To more recent news
News items are now being copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)
- thanks to Joseph4GI
Parents may face piercing probe
Berlin - A German couple who filed for damages from a piercing studio where they had the ears of their 3-year-old daughter pierced could face charges of harming her after a court said it might ask police to investigate whether their actions were legal.
The case at a Berlin court could further heat up a debate in Germany about parental consent after a court in the western city of Cologne ruled in June that a doctor had inflicted bodily harm by circumcising a 4-year-old Muslim boy at his parents' request.
A Berlin court approved the parents' demand for 70 euros (88 dollars) in damages for excessive pain inflicted on their daughter during the piercing. But noting the Cologne case, judge Uwe Kett raised the possibility of referring the parents and the piercing artist to the police.
[Maybe Romani will claim their culture makes piercing little girls' ears mandatory...]
Yes, it could look like that....
Israel National News
Knesset Delegation to Germany Cancelled
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin has cancelled a planned delegation to Germany to discuss the issue of a recent court ban on circumcision. The decision to cancel the trip was made unanimously along with trip leaders MK Yaakov Edri (Kadima) and MK Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism).
The MKs were concerned that the trip could make Israel look over-involved in internal German affairs. Rivlin noted that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has already committed to ensure [adult] Jews’ religious freedom despite the ruling, and said Israel should wait to see what happens before commenting further on the issue.
the Times of Israel
Charges filed against prominent Berlin rabbi for vowing to continue circumcisions
By Raphael Ahren
One of Germany’s most prominent rabbis has been charged after publicly vowing to continue to perform circumcisions, The Times of Israel has learned.
The office of Rabbi Yitshak Ehrenberg, who has been serving the Berlin Jewish community since 1997, on Wednesday confirmed in an email that criminal charges had been filed against him. Ehrenberg has received a letter from the prosecutor’s office because of comments he made on a nationwide broadcast television show, an aide confirmed. At this point it is not known who filed the complaint and what exactly the letter states.
Ehrenberg could not immediately be reached for comment.
On July 11, Ehrenberg ... participated in a debate on “Anne Will,” a popular talk show dedicated to the Cologne ruling and its implications [link in German].
“I don’t even want to go into this discussion,” Ehrenberg said after a proponent of a ban said that the act was tantamount to causing the child bodily injury without his or her consent. “We’re talking about religion,” said Ehrenberg. “This ruling will kill Judaism in Germany.”
After more than an hour of lively discussion, host Anne Will allowed Ehrenberg the last word. The rabbi first appealed to his congregants not to have their children circumcised in a hospital but in a synagogue or at home. Then he concluded: “Circumcision is a basic law for us Jews. There is no Judaism without circumcision, and therefore — we will continue.”
Haaretz (Subscription required)
The national consensus on the mutilation of every newborn male
By Eyal Meged
It's an irony of fate that the Germans, of all people, are calling us to order in Jewish matters. It's an irony of fate that they are the ones telling us the religious precept, which even complete heretics among us keep without blinking an eye, is a barbaric, primitive act, not to say a violation of the law.
What disaster would have befallen had the president turned to us, his flock, and asked us to reconsider the automatic sacrifice of every Jewish male on the circumcisers' altar? I too had to go through most of my life and two male sons before I acknowledged the sin of circumcision, which I committed light-headedly.
If we think rationally for one moment, why should the Germans - and the Swiss who followed their lead, or any other Western state - allow a Jewish rabbi to perform a surgical act forbidden to anyone else who isn't a doctor? What chutzpah on our part to ask for ourselves a privilege that is a blatant infraction of the law, which is intended to protect people from various charlatans.
They're not quite buying it....
New York Times
Benefits of Circumcision Are Said to Outweigh Risks
By Roni Caryn Rabin
The American Academy of Pediatrics has shifted its stance on infant male circumcision, announcing on Monday that new research, including studies in Africa suggesting that the procedure may protect heterosexual men against H.I.V., indicated that the health benefits outweighed the risks.
But the academy stopped short of recommending routine circumcision for all baby boys, saying the decision remains a family matter. The academy had previously taken a neutral position on circumcision.
The new policy statement, the first update of the academy’s circumcision policy in over a decade, appears in the Aug. 27 issue of the journal Pediatrics. The group’s guidelines greatly influence pediatric care and decisions about coverage by insurers; in the new statement, the academy also said that circumcision should be covered by insurance.
The long-delayed policy update comes as sentiment against circumcision is gaining strength in the United States and parts of Europe. Circumcision rates in the United States declined to 54.5 percent in 2009 from 62.7 percent in 1999, ...
Officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, which for several years have been pondering circumcision recommendations of their own, have yet to weigh in and declined to comment on the academy’s new stance. Medicaid programs in several states have stopped paying for the routine circumcision of infants.
“We’re not pushing everybody to circumcise their babies,” Dr. Douglas S. Diekema, a member of the academy’s task force on circumcision and an author of the new policy, said in an interview. “This is not really pro-circumcision. It falls in the middle. It’s pro-choice, for lack of a better word. Really, what we’re saying is, ‘This ought to be a choice that’s available to parents.’ ”
But opponents of circumcision say no one — not even a well-meaning parent — has the right to make the decision to remove a healthy body part from another person.
“The bottom line is it’s unethical,” said Georganne Chapin, founding director of Intact America, a national group that advocates against circumcision. “A normal foreskin on a normal baby boy is no more threatening than the hymen or labia on your daughter.”
In updating its 1999 policy, the academy’s task force reviewed the medical literature on benefits and harms of the surgery. It was a protracted analysis that began in 2007, and the result is a 30-page report, which includes seven pages of references, including 248 citations.Among those are 14 studies that provide what the experts characterize as “fair” evidence that circumcision in adulthood protects men from H.I.V. transmission from a female partner, cutting infection rates by 40 to 60 percent. Three of the studies were large randomized controlled trials of the kind considered the gold standard in medicine, but they were carried out in Africa, where H.I.V. — the virus the causes AIDS — is spread primarily among heterosexuals.
Circumcision does not appear to reduce H.I.V. transmission among men who have sex with men, Dr. Diekema said. “The degree of benefit, or degree of impact, in a place like the U.S. will clearly be smaller than in a place like Africa,” he said.
Two studies have found that circumcision actually increases the risk of H.I.V. infection among sexually active men and women, the academy noted.
Other studies have linked male circumcision to lower rates of infection with human papillomavirus and herpes simplex Type 2. But male circumcision is not associated with lower rates of gonorrhea or chlamydia, and evidence for protection against syphilis is weak, the review said.
The procedure has long been recognized to lower urinary tract infections early in life and reduce the incidence of penile cancer.Although newborn male circumcision is generally believed to be relatively safe, deaths are not unheard of, and the review noted that “the true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown.”
Significant complications are believed to occur in approximately one in 500 procedures. Botched operations can result in damage or even amputation of parts of the penis, and by one estimate about 117 boys die each year.
Anesthesia is often not used, and the task force recommended that pain relief, including penile nerve blocks, be used regularly, a change that may raise the rate of complications.
The Intactivism Pages [edited October 7, 2012] say:
Denmark to probe whether circumcision violates health code
(JTA) -- Denmark has commissioned an investigation into whether non-medical circumcision procedures violate its health code.
“We will examine the public health recommendations followed in this area,” Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told the Copenhagen-based Politiken daily on Saturday.
Politiken reported that the Danish government has commissioned a study on this question. Last month the paper published an expose that said the National Board of Health did not monitor the conditions under which circumcision takes place.
Non-medical circumcision of minors has been the subject of a heated debate in Denmark over the past few months. Several politicians reportedly have called for a ban on the practice, prompting angry reactions from Jews and Muslims.
Venstre, Denmark’s largest party, will decide whether to seek a ban on such circumcisions based on the results of the study, a party spokesperson told JTA.
The chief rabbi of Denmark, Bent Lexner, told Politiken that he did not think the launching of the investigation reflected distrust on the government’s part. He said the government was welcome to carry out its investigation.
August 26, 2012
Leaks distort AAP's already-biased policy
By Hugh Young
Websites supporting circumcision have leaked the American Academy of Pediatrics' policy on circumcision, adding further spin to an already biased policy.
The Tablet trumpets "Leading Pediatric Group Endorses Circumcision" and this has been echoed on other conservative sites.
They do NOT "endorse" it. They say "health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns" but the benefits outweigh the risks and then, as they always have, leave it up to parents.
Yet their own ethicist, Dr Douglas Diekema has said on oath that, "the request of a parent or surrogate decision-maker is never sufficient to justify a particular clinical intervention." (The same Dr Diekema has never recanted his support of a token ritual nick to girls' genitals "much less extensive than neonatal male genital cutting" that was the AAP's policy on FGC for a month in 2010 until a storm of public outrage forced it to backtrack).
Their policy exaggerates the benefits and minimizes the risks. For example, there are no good statistical studies of major complications or deaths, so it simply ignores them. It cherry-picks data and misrepresents it. For example it cites a study that found "circumcision [removes] the most senstive part of the penis" but ignores that finding - in fact it ignores the foreskin as much as it can, neither defining it nor considering its unique structure and many functions.
It discusses one circumcision clamp's action without mentioning that its maker has gone out of business after losing lawsuits worth millions to the families of boys who lost too much in the clamps.
Its pro-circumcision bias is manifest - as is its financial interest in getting your taxes and health insurance premiums into their pockets through public funding of circumcision.
Bottom line: the AAP does not recommend circumcision. It is still true that no national medical association in the world does.
Fashion show for expectant moms at SITF
By Phumla Dlamini
PSI Swaziland invites all expectant mums and dads to a Baby Fair on September 3 at the Mavuso Trade Centre. The event will coincide with the ongoing Swaziland International Trade Fair (SITF).
The Baby Fair is part of the ‘Lugotjwa Lusemanti’ campaign that seeks to encourage early circumcision of the boy child.
[...so they can browbeat those expecting boys before they are born]
Mothers willing to have their babies circumcised must come through because it will be done for free.[Hurry! This price won't last!]
Denmark to review male circumcision practices
COPENHAGEN (AFP) - Denmark has commissioned a report into whether male circumcision is always carried out in line with national health guidelines, the prime minister said on Thursday.
Controversy surrounding the non-medical circumcision of young boys arose earlier this summer when Danish media revealed that the National Board of Health did not monitor the conditions under which circumcision takes place.
"We must make sure that things take place in a proper way. And the government is taking the initiative to do so. We will investigate whether the National Board of Health recommendations are being met," Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt told a national daily.
Under the health board rules, a doctor must be present during male circumcision...
Peres to German president: End circumcision row
By Benjamin Weithal
German Ethics Council conditionally supports the ritual, following an anti-circumcision ruling in Cologne.
President Shimon Peres called on German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday to resolve the German legal issues around circumcision, Army Radio reported.
The controversy follows a criminal complaint filed this week by a physician in Germany against Rabbi David Goldberg, a mohel based in Hof Saale, Bavaria, for performing brit mila.
Germany's Ethics Council came out in conditional support of circumcision, its chairwoman Christiane Woopen said Thursday following a council meeting.
[So how did it address the statement in the Grundgesetz (Basic Law) that
According to German media, Woopen said that the agreement of both parents should be necessary, the possibility of anesthesia should be introduced to alleviate pain and there should be comprehensive education about the risks associated with circumcision.
Additionally, the procedure should be carried out by medical professional. [...like the one who botched the Muslim boy in Cologne....]
The members of the ethics council recommended a committee consisting of Jews, Muslims, parent groups and doctors from various disciplines to participate in clarifying Germany's position on the issue. According to reports, members of the Ethics council had differing views on the ritual's place in Germany.
Hamburg-based legal expert Reinhard Merkel stressed at the meeting that he considers circumcision without anesthesia to be" legally and ethically not acceptable." He added this should not be allowed to take place.
The deputy representative of the ethics council, the evangelical theologian, Peter Dabrock, advocated for "proven effective pain therapy measures" for the procedure.
However, the Cologne legal expert, Wolfram Höfling, said it is necessary to have a "recognition of circumcision as a parental right." He conditioned his advocacy of circumcision on the avoidance of pain during the process.
Leo Latasch, a Jewish physician on the council, suggested he was amenable to a local anesthesia. He said anesthesia is already a customary method in Germany. Latasch flatly rejected that circumcision of young boys is comparable with genital mutilation of young girls.According to Latasch, medical complications take place in less than 0.2 percent of the cases by circumcision and there is no proof that the procedure results in traumatic after effects.
The Muslim medical ethicist Ilhan Ilkiliç called for a "factual" debate. He warned of operations in back rooms without supervision and a "circumcision tourism" if lawmakers do not react to the Cologne decision criminalizing circumcision.
[The fear of backroom cutting has never deterred bans on FGC - except briefly, in AAP policy.]
According to the DPA news service, the authorities in Bavaria are examining the complaint for "criminal relevancy."
However, following the Cologne ruling Bavarian authorities said that they would not enforce the decision in their state.
Germany's national Ethics Council (Ethikrat) has recommended authorising circumcision if safeguards are in place. ...
But the recommendation was made after a robust debate. A legal scholar, Reinhard Merkel, said that it was "bizarre" that religious communities could be allowed to define when and how a human body could be injured. If a child's right to bodily integrity had to be weighed against religious requirements, this was a "legal policy crisis". However, he squared the circle by invoking an "indebtedness" to Jews which called for a "special law". [Would this "indebtedness" apply outside Germany? And would the special law include Muslims?] Constitutional law expert Wolfram Höfling, on the other hand, argued that parental rights were paramount. If they believed that the ritual was in the best interests of the child then this should be respected, especially since millions of circumcisions have occurred without complications. [Complications are not the only issue.]
Call for circumcision device probe
By Nosihle Shelembe
Durban - The Treatment Action Campaign has asked the Public Protector to investigate the procurement and ongoing use of a device used to perform medical male circumcisions in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The TK [Tara KLamp] is a dangerous device. It has specifically not been approved by the World Health Organisation because it failed in the only clinical trial conducted to test its safety,” [TAC provincial chairman Patrick] Mdletshe said.
The TK is a plastic device which is clamped over the foreskin of a man’s penis for seven to 10 days until the foreskin falls off. Sometimes, the device has to be surgically removed.
The TAC said the TK was used only in KwaZulu-Natal, as all the other provinces had rejected it.
Using TK cost R120 more per circumcision than the standard surgical method, Mdletshe said.
A man who did not want to be named, and who was circumcised using the TK, said that before the procedure, his penis had not been measured when it was in an erect state.
“At about 3am in the morning, when I get my erection, it becomes very painful as my penis size increases,” he said.
“In January 2012, we received a draft document outlining the research carried out. However the methodology of this research was so poor it provided no evidential value regarding the safety of the TK,” Mdletshe said.
Trials of the TK on adults in Orange Farm showed that it was unsafe.
The trials revealed that there was a 32 percent infection rate using the TK compared to the zero percent when using the forceps guided method (FGM), which was the standard surgical method.
The complication rate when using the TK was 37 percent compared to three percent using the FGM.
According to the TAC, no tender had been published for the procurement of the TK.
“The TK was purchased from a supplier with links to government, rather than a competitor offering a low price,” Mdletshe said.
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child Condemns American Academy of Pediatrics for Hiding the Truth, Putting Doctors Ahead of Patients in its Circumcision Statement
Berkeley, CA – The human rights group Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC) has condemned the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for its upcoming “Circumcision Policy Statement,” due out on August 27, 2012, which ignores and minimizes the truth about male circumcision and places doctors’ interests ahead of patients’ needs. J. Steven Svoboda, ARC’s Executive Director, commented today, “Based on comments that have appeared in the media attributed to members of the task force preparing the statement, the AAP appears to endorse a disproven procedure that violates the infant patient’s rights and removes functional tissue without providing any proven benefit.”
The AAP position statement ignores the wealth of medical evidence that painfully amputating functional tissue from newborns is a dangerous and outmoded practice.”
Not a single study has ever proven that circumcision has actually decreased any disease in the United States. Svoboda observed, “Rather than objectively evaluating all available evidence, the AAP selectively quotes and references highly contested and controversial studies to attempt to justify an entrenched yet outmoded cultural—not medical—practice. Over a hundred boys die each year from this needless procedure, yet the AAP quotes an absurdly low overall complication rate overall and fails to mention the deaths stemming from the practice.”
The AAP released a policy statement in 2010 in Pediatrics defending certain forms of female circumcision if performed for “cultural” reasons. Physicians who had followed the AAP’s suggestion at that time would have thereby violated federal law protecting females from such procedures. After ARC and other organizations opposing genital cutting pointed out the errors, the AAP quickly retracted its statement and replaced it with a new statement calling for the elimination of all forms of female genital cutting. Svoboda commented, “Boys deserve no less protection from the AAP than girls received. If circumcision is so great, why have no European countries adopted it, and why do their males enjoy better average health than Americans?”
The AAP statement demonstrates its ignorance of the fact that European men don’t circumcise and yet enjoy better health outcomes including the areas the statement cites as improved after circumcision. Moreover, medical organizations and politicians in Finland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and other countries are calling for the practice to stop. Even in the US, the American Medical Association (AMA) agrees that there is insufficient justification for performing the procedure on newborns absent specific medical indications.
Svoboda noted that studies of adult males in Africa have numerous methodological flaws and that even if valid, given vast differences in health conditions and modes of transmission between the US and Africa, the results can hardly be applied to justify infant male circumcision in the United States. “Babies don’t get HIV and AIDS from sexual contact,” Svoboda added.
“Male circumcision,” Svoboda said, “is a disfigurement that carries risks without providing benefits. It violates a child’s right to bodily integrity, not to mention numerous civil and criminal laws.” Malpractice awards are mounting up including a recent $700,000 settlement reported in the Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. Svoboda noted, “Although the AAP’s statement regarding male circumcision is presumably influenced by its desire to protect its members who perform the outmoded procedure, the AAP has no business promoting a harmful and discredited cultural relic masquerading as a medical procedure. In these days of rising medical costs and scarce resources, we simply cannot afford to continue to carry out such a harmful and outmoded practice.”
Americans are getting the message, as according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), rates have dropped substantially in recent years.
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child is a non-profit organization founded in 1997 to protect children from unnecessary medical procedures to which they do not consent.
INTACT AMERICA CONDEMNS ANTICIPATED CIRCUMCISION STATEMENT FROM AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS
Group Opposed to the Non-Therapeutic Genital Cutting of All Children Calls AAP “Shockingly Biased and Out of Touch with Medical Ethics and Children’s Rights”
TARRYTOWN, NY—Intact America, an organization founded in 2008 to ensure that all children are protected from permanent bodily alteration inflicted on them without their consent, is criticizing the anticipated August 27 release by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) of its new “Circumcision Policy Statement.” Based on comments to the press made by members of the AAP’s Task Force on Circumcision, which authored the document, Intact America deplores the Statement’s focus on selective evidence supporting medical benefits of removing normal foreskins from baby boys.
Georganne Chapin, Executive Director of Intact America, stated today, “From the AAP Circumcision Task Force’s pre-publication comments, it is clear that the group has chosen to feature only literature (almost exclusively focused on adult men in Africa) that supports its predisposition toward circumcising boys; the Task Force has failed to consider the large body of evidence from the developed world that shows no medical benefits for the practice, and has given short shrift, if not dismissed out of hand, the serious ethical problems inherent in doctors removing healthy body parts from children who cannot consent.”
In 2010, Intact America responded similarly when the AAP issued a new Policy Statement on Ritual Genital Cutting of Female Minors; this statement called for doctors to be allowed to inflict a “ritual nick” on infant girls’ genitalia for “cultural” reasons, in contravention of Federal law prohibiting any such cutting. The AAP’s policy statement also acknowledged that, “Some forms of FGC [performed in African cultures] are less extensive than the newborn male circumcision commonly performed in the West.” Pressure from Intact America and other groups opposing Female Genital Mutilation resulted in the quick retraction of the AAP’s call for tolerance of and doctors’ participation in the ritual cutting of baby girls, and in the issuance of a revised policy condemning “all types of female genital cutting
“It is clear,” said Ms. Chapin, “that the AAP is blind to the mounting worldwide movement against the genital cutting of boys. This American physician organization is disregarding the risks and harms of the procedure. It also is ignoring the fact that circumcision is rare in Europe, with no negative health consequences, and that European politicians and physician groups—in increasing numbers—are calling for doctors to refuse to perform the procedure, on the basis that it is harmful and violates children’s rights and bodies. In its selective blindness, the AAP has failed to put the wellbeing of the infants and children it is supposed to protect ahead of that organization’s cultural bias and interest in perpetrating a medically unnecessary, harmful, and unethical practice.”
About Intact America
Doctors Opposing Circumcision
AAP Announces Intent to Release its Sixth Major Circumcision Policy
Never mind protecting babies....
L A Times
German lawmakers work on legislation to protect circumcision
By Renuka Rayasam
BERLIN - Israel’s top rabbi is in Berlin to rally support among German political leaders regarding legislation to protect the practice of ritual circumcision in Germany, which was called into question earlier this year by a controversial court ruling that Jewish and Muslim leaders said threatened their religious freedom.
In June, after a Muslim boy suffered health complications from the practice, a court in the western German city of Cologne declared nonmedical circumcision to be criminal because it causes children bodily harm. Amid outrage from some religious groups, lawmakers quickly passed a resolution promising legislation guaranteeing legal protection for circumcision.
This week, officials have been meeting with Yona Metzger, chief rabbi of Israel's Ashkenazi Jews, to craft legislation on the issue. But the stakes were raised further Tuesday after a doctor in the southern German city of Hof, in Bavaria, reportedly filed charges with local prosecutors against a rabbi there to stop the practice. Prosecutors must still decide whether to act on the charges, which the Council of European Rabbis described as a “grave affront to religious freedom.”
“This latest development … underlines the urgent need for the German government to expedite the process of ensuring that the fundamental rights of minority communities are protected,” the council said in a statement on its website. [Never mind the fundamental rights of children.]
... But finding a compromise hasn’t been so simple, with opponents of the practice saying that what they see as protecting the rights of children should come above religious freedom. [Note the loaded language, and the assumption that freedom of religion entails the freedom to cut parts off non-consenting people's genitals - not just what some other people "see it as".]
The European rabbis’ council says that using anesthesia or having a doctor perform circumcision instead of a mohel would not be in accordance with Judaism. Metzger told reporters Tuesday that he suggested establishing a school for mohels in Germany with both religious training from rabbis and medical training from doctors in case of complications from circumcision.
The Times of Israel
Criminal charges filed against German rabbi for performing circumcisions
By Raphael Ahren
David Goldberg, who oversees a 400-member strong community in northern Bavaria, is the first mohel to be charged since Cologne court banned the ritual
For the first time, criminal charges have been pressed against a German rabbi for performing circumcisions, a Jewish weekly reported on Tuesday.
A doctor from Hesse filed a criminal complaint against Rabbi David Goldberg, who serves in the community of Hof, in Upper Franconia (northern Bavaria), according to the Juedische Allgemeine weekly newspaper. The chief prosecutor of Hof confirmed that charges had been filed against the rabbi. The charges are based on the controversial decision of a Cologne district court, which ruled in June that circumcisions for religious reasons constitute illegal bodily harm to newborn babies.
“I am shocked,” said Cologne Rabbi Yaron Engelmayer, co-chairman of the national umbrella group of Orthodox rabbis in Germany, in a first reaction to the report. This marks the first time that a court in the Federal Republic of Germany is investigating a rabbi for performing a religious ritual, Engelmayer told the paper.
Goldberg, a qualified mohel (ritual circumciser) who says he has performed more than 3,000 circumcisions, was informed about the criminal charges against him by journalists, the paper said.
Born in Jerusalem, the 64-year-old has been the rabbi of Hof since 1997. Before World War II, about 3,000 Jews lived in Hof. Today, the community counts about 400 members.
“This latest development in Hof is yet another grave affront to religious freedom and underlines the urgent need for the German government to expedite the process of ensuring that the fundamental rights of minority communities are protected. We call upon the Minister of the Interior to take immediate action to secure those rights in the short term,” Conference of European Rabbis, Chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt said.
The Cologne court decision caused a major uproar in Germany’s Jewish and Muslim communities, leading the Bundestag to pass a joint resolution calling on the government to ensure legal certainty for ritual circumcisers. “A medically professional circumcision of boys, which does not cause unnecessary pain” should be “generally permissible,” the resolution read.
While the Jews in Germany feared the implications of the Cologne ruling, they expressed confidence last month that they would be able to continue performing the rite.
“At the moment — in our view — the verdict formally does not severely affect the ability to perform circumcision since the decision of the court is formally not binding for other cases,” the secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, said.
Rabbi Engelmayer, from Cologne, told The Times of Israel in July that the court decision had “enormously” impacted Jewish life in his community. “De facto it looks as if doctors across the country are afraid [to perform circumcisions],” he said.
“The mohels are inquiring, and we tell them: without circumcision, there is no Judaism,” he said at the time. “Therefore it is hard to imagine how the courts could criminalize a correctly performed Jewish circumcision ceremony. It would be too harsh a sign, especially from Germany.”
Engelmayer added: “I think that Germany will refrain [from permanently outlawing circumcisions], also in light of the chorus of outrage, the criticism and the damage it could do to Germany’s image in the world.”
New York Times
Accord Sought in Germany Over Circumcision Issue
BERLIN — German officials have been meeting here with Israel’s chief Ashkenazi rabbi over the past two days as they seek a way to enshrine some sort of legal protection for Jews and Muslims who circumcise infant boys as a religious rite, officials said Tuesday.
... Hof prosecutors could not be reached for comment, and it was unclear whether any decision had been made to open an investigation and press charges.
David Goldberg, the rabbi reported to have been named in the file, said in a telephone interview that the prosecutor’s office had not yet contacted him and that he had learned of the petition against him only from local news media. Rabbi Goldberg said he had not carried out any circumcisions in Germany since June 26, but had been called abroad several times to perform the rite. “There is not so much demand in Germany,” he said.
On Thursday, Germany’s Ethics Council, an independent body made up of 26 members who specialize in various scientific, ethical, social and legal concerns, is to hold a public discussion on the circumcision debate.
Los Angeles Times
As circumcision declines, health costs will go up, study projects
By Eryn Brown
A team of researchers estimates that every procedure not performed could lead to significant increases in lifetime medical expenses because of STDs.
Declining rates of circumcision among infants will translate into billions of dollars of unnecessary medical costs in the U.S. as these boys grow up and become sexually active men, researchers at Johns Hopkins University warned.
In a study published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, a team of economists and epidemiologists estimated that every circumcision not performed would lead to significant increases in lifetime medical expenses to treat sexually transmitted diseases and related cancers — increases that far surpass the costs associated with the procedure.
Circumcision is a hotly debated and emotional issue in the U.S., where rates have been falling for decades. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 80% of baby boys were routinely circumcised in hospitals or during religious ceremonies; by 2010, that figure had dropped below 55%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Some of that decline is due to shifting attitudes among parents, but at least part of it can be traced to the decision by many states to eliminate Medicaid coverage for the procedure in order to save costs. Today 18 states, including California, do not provide Medicaid coverage for the procedure, which is considered cosmetic by many physicians.
But in the last decade, studies have increasingly shown that removing the foreskin of the penis has significant health benefits, said Dr. Aaron Tobian, senior author of the new study.
Three randomized trials in Africa have demonstrated that circumcision was associated with a reduced risk of contracting HIV, human papillomavirus and herpes simplex in men. One of those studies documented a reduced risk of HPV, bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis in the female partners of men who were circumcised.
Circumcision is believed to prevent STDs by depriving pathogens of a moist environment where they can thrive. The inner foreskin has been shown to be highly susceptible to HIV in particular because it contains large numbers of Langerhans cells, a target for the virus.
Tobian and his colleagues developed a computer-based simulation to estimate whether declining circumcision rates would lead to more STDs and thus higher medical costs.
If circumcision rates remained about 50% instead of the higher rates of years past, the lifetime healthcare costs for all of the babies born in a single year would probably rise by $211 million, the team calculated.
[This has not been the experience of the rest of the developed world, such as the English-speaking world, where the experiment of mass circumcision was tried and abandoned.]
If circumcision rates were to fall to 10% — which is typical in countries where insurance does not cover the procedure — lifetime health costs for all the babies born in a year would go up by $505 million. That works out to $313 in added costs for every circumcision that doesn't happen, the report said.
In this scenario, nearly 80% of the additional projected costs were because of medical care associated with HIV infection in men, the team wrote.
The model includes only direct medical costs such as treatment for penile and cervical cancer, which are associated with HPV infection. It doesn't consider nonmedical or indirect costs, such as transportation to doctors' appointments or lost income.
[Nor does it include costs for revision surgery or other sequelae of botched circumcisions. Unsurprisingly, it assigns no value to the possession of an intact foreskin.]
To Tobian, the message is clear: Government efforts to save money by denying coverage for circumcision are penny-wise but pound-foolish.
"The federal Medicaid program should reclassify circumcision from an optional service to one all states should cover," he said.
[So much for states' rights.]
That sentiment was echoed in an editorial accompanying the study. UCLA health economist Arleen Leibowitz wrote that by failing to require states to cover circumcision in Medicaid plans, the U.S. reinforces healthcare disparities.
"If we don't give poor parents the opportunity to make this choice, we're discriminating against their health in the future," she said in an interview. "If something is better for health and saves money, why shouldn't we do it? Or at least, why shouldn't we allow parents the option to choose it?"
Ellen Meara, a researcher at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice who was not involved with the study, praised the researchers for conducting a careful analysis. But she questioned whether data from HIV studies in Africa were generalizable to the U.S. Medicaid population.
Still, it's "the best information we have," she said. "There's nothing better to plug in."
[It's rigged, but it's the only game in town. No US study has found sufficient evidence of a connection between circumcision and HIV to justify doing it to babies.]
The analysis comes a week before the American Academy of Pediatrics is scheduled to release a new policy on circumcision. Since 1999, the doctors group has taken a neutral stance on the procedure, saying that "the scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits" but that it's not strong enough to say that circumcision should be routine.
Some reports have indicated that the new policy will state that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the procedure's risks, but will stop short of recommending it for all baby boys. A spokeswoman for the academy declined to comment before the policy is formally released Monday.
A shift in position could boost support for circumcision, since both pediatricians and parents look to the academy for guidance, Leibowitz said.
USC health economist Joel Hay said the new study was inherently flawed because ethical concerns about the procedure trumped any economic analysis of its potential benefits.
"You're taking an asymptomatic individual and forcing a procedure on him," he said.
Hay also argued that Americans didn't need circumcision to prevent HIV infection because they had other options, such as using condoms. He said that just last month the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationapproved the use of a once-a-day pill called Truvada to reduce the risk of HIV transmission in high-risk groups.
"There's no reason why people have to engage in this irreversible procedure," he said.
Tasmania Law Reform Institute
Tasmania: Non-religious infant circumcision should be illegal
The Tasmania Law Reform Institute today released Final Report No 17 on the legal framework in Tasmania which governs the practice of non-therapeutic male circumcision. The report, Non-Therapeutic Male Circumcision, provides background on the divisive issue of male circumcision, examines the current law in Tasmania and other international jurisdictions and offers recommendations for reform of the law.
The TLRI produced an issues paper entitled Non-Therapeutic Male Circumcision in 2009 seeking public views on the merits of the current legal framework. The paper generated much interest, and submissions were received not only from Tasmania and other Australian states but from international respondents as well.
Analysis of the legal position reveals that the law is uncertain as to whether non-therapeutic infant male circumcision is lawful. In the interests of certainty the Institute recommends that the law be clarified. The report makes a series of recommendations. These include:
The report is available on the Institute’s webpage: www.law.utas.edu.au/reform
Circumcision ban closer in Tasmania
By David Beniuk
THE circumcision of boys could be banned in Tasmania following a report on the legality of the controversial procedure.
The Tasmanian Law Reform Institute has recommended the practice be deemed an offence unless it is performed for "well-established" religious or cultural reasons.
The institute says law reform is needed to clarify its legality and make unscrupulous practitioners face criminal sanctions.
"Analysis of the legal position reveals that the law is uncertain as to whether non-therapeutic infant male circumcision is lawful," the institute's director Professor Kate Warner said.
"In the interests of certainty the institute recommends that the law be clarified."
The 101-page report, titled Non-Therapeutic Male Circumcision, recommends a new offence: "generally prohibiting the circumcision of incapable minors".
An exception should be granted for traditions such as the Jewish and Muslim faiths, it says.
"The law ought to accommodate established religious and ethnic circumcising traditions," the report says.
[But who is to decide which traditions are established. Is Scientology established? The Unification Church (Moonies)? The Mormons? Pastafarians? Jedi?]
"It should also support measures to encourage individuals associated with these traditions to move away from loosely entrenched and particularly contentious practices."
Among the other recommendations is the need for a court order for a circumcision to take place if a child's parents disagree on it.
Pain and trauma affecting mental health can be associated with the practice, while the benefit of fighting some infections is not significant in developed countries, the report says.
Australia already has laws outlawing female genital mutilation but the circumcision of boys has largely been considered a decision for parents.
The report says more than 19,000 Medicare claims were lodged in 2010 for circumcisions performed on boys aged under six months throughout Australia.
The rate has dropped from around 90 per cent in the 1950s to around 12 per cent in recent years, and is only around 1.5 per cent in Tasmania.
Only Queensland public hospitals still perform the procedure, the report said.
International debate over the practice flared in June when a German court ruled that it represented the illegal harming of a child.
The Royal Australian College of Physicians said at the time the practice was medically unnecessary and a choice for parents.
The state government will consider its response to the report, a spokesman said.
The Local (Sweden)
Parents held over genital mutilation
A man and a woman have been remanded into custody by Attunda district court in Sollentuna on suspicion of having subjected their daughter to female genital mutilation (FGM).
The couple who are both in their 30s are suspected of having allowed the procedure to be carried out on their 3-year-old sometime between January and April 2012 in either Sweden or Gambia.
Female genital mutilation has been illegal in Sweden since 1982. Since 1999 it is an offence even if the procedure is performed in a different country and carries a penalty of up to four years imprisonment.
During the almost 30 years that FGM has been banned in Sweden, only 46 suspected cases have been reported, according to a report from Uppsala University published last year.
Only two people have been convicted for female genital mutilation, and in both cases it was the afflicted girls themselves who raised the alarm.
Voices of Africa
KENYA PRISONERS BENEFITS FROM MALE CIRCUMCISION
By Maurice Alal
Prisoners in Nyanza Province of Kenya are currently benefiting from Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) as one of the educational programmes aimed at reducing HIV/AIDS prevalence rate in the area.
The programme, which is an initiative of the government with various health partners in the world, targets the prisoners, fishermen among others who have not gone for the cut.
The demand for male circumcision in prisons is overwhelming because the prisoners are the most neglected and at risk of HIV infections. This is because of various behaviors in these institutions. [Yes, behaviours over which circumcision can have NO EFFECT.]
"There are a lot of sexual activities such as homosexuals that exposes prisoners to high rate of infections. [... and probably IV drug use] The prisoners come from different areas with unknown backgrounds," said the Social Mobilizer, Dan Aketch of Impact Research Development Organization.
But Aketch noted with regret that the traditional practices by Luo community have been a stumbling block towards ensuring that the spread of the disease is reduced.
Some of the stumbling block included wife inheritance which the community continue to adore and should be abolished immediately especially at the beaches where the practice is rampant.
However, Nyanza Province Aids Prevention and STIs Coordinator Dr. Charles Okal asked the prisoners to embrace circumcision and behaviourial change to make sure they stick to one partner as a measure of bringing down the high rate of the scourge at the beaches and prisons.
"Male circumcision in prisons is on the right track and over 3000 prisoners have been cut so far," Dr. Okal disclosed, expressing hope that 90% target will be achieved the end of 2013.
He however warned the prisoners who have undergone the cut to guard against the unprotected sex especially those who have served their jail term pointing out that male circumcision does not prevent one from the scourge infections but only reduces it by 60%.
The medic urged the prisons management to carry out voluntary counseling and testing and distribute condoms to prisoners especially those that have serve the jail term when leaving for home.
"It is encouraging that circumcision has been impressed by prisoners making turnout very high. If this continues the government will be able to breathe a sigh of relief," Dr. Okal stated.
This has prompted the government in collaboration with other organization such as Impact Research, Centre of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Nyarami to expand on VMMC alongside counseling and testing.
According to HIV Counseling and testing officer of Nyarami in Migori district, Mr. Dennis Owuor most prisoners are very happy of the voluntary counseling and testing that is carried out in the prisons department.
"Most of the prisoners after serving their jail term come to the facility to take condoms for protection. This is because when in prisons they do not know their partners HIV status," Owuor said.
However, a quarter of over 260, 000 men who have been circumcised in Nyanza since 2008 through Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision reducing chances of HIV infection by 60% are prisoners, Dr. Okal revealed.
[It seems clear that Dr. Okal has no idea how circumcision is supposed to prevent HIV, and is a victim of magical thinking.]
Journal of Sexual Medicine
Puero Rico: Circumcision not protective
Circumcision does not protect men against HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases, according to a study conducted in Puerto Rico.
The 660 men were randomly sampled from an STD clinic waiting room. Almost a third of them were circumcised.
The circumcised men reported significantly (but not greatly) more STDs in their lifetimes, were more likely to have been diagnosed with warts, and were more likely to have HIV.
Two young lives ruined to no purpose
Twin Boys' Genitals Amputated After Circumcision Op Goes Wrong
By Bryar Mohammed
Erbil - Two three-year-old twin brothers have had their genitals amputated after a circumcision operation went horribly wrong in Khanaqin.
Khanaqin hospital media official Arian Qader said: "Unfortunately an unwanted incident occurred while circumcising the two boys. After the operation went wrong, their penises were amputated. Now they urinate using plastic tubes."
Qader said the doctor and assistant amputated the kids' genitals by mistake.
The official added: "When you circumcise a boy, there is a small tool in our hospital that looks like an iron for amputating a small part of the skin on the top of the penis."
"After the incident, both kids got gangrene, the disease of infection of the wound."
The genitals were ironed more than the normal procedure requires and this led to infection. The boys' penises were later amputated.
The kids are Arab from Baladruz. Their father has registered a lawsuit against the doctor (I.A) and assistant.
Gangrene is a serious and life-threatening condition that arises when a considerable mass of body tissue dies after an injury or infection.
This is as bad as rape.
The Weekend Times (Malawi)
Man's foreskin goes missing
[A belittling headline]
By Howard Mlozi
A man in Mangochi, on the southern tip of Lake Malawi, Stanley Kalonga woke up to a shocking sight of a missing foreskin from his member after two men forcefully circumcised him.
Police in Mangochi are keeping in custody the two men, 52-year-old Lanjesi Adam and Ali Suwedi, 43, who allegedly wounded the 29-year-old man amid speculation that the foreskin would be used for rituals.
Police spokesperson for Eastern Region Thomeck Nyaude said the incident happened on August 8 near Ntagaluka Mosque in Mangochi.
“Adam and Suwedi are currently in custody waiting for a court trial in which they will answer charges of unlawful wounding of Kalonga during a forced circumcision. The victim reported his ordeal to police before being referred to Mangochi District Hospital where he was treated as an outpatient,” said Nyaude.
He said that Kalonga plies [his trade as a] cyclist transporter at Mangochi town and on August 8, 2012 he was hired by Suwedi to take him to Ntagaluka Mosque where he ended up being forcefully circumcised.
“Kalonga explained that they stopped at Ntagaluka Mosque upon being advised by Suwedi that he wanted to collect some items in a nearby grass-thatched hut. Suwedi is said to have come out of the hut few minutes later and advised him to enter as well for some discussions.
“But when Kalonga entered, he found Suwedi’s accomplice Adam inside who smiled at him, saying he was welcomed. This shocked Kalonga who tried to escape but he was grabbed,” said Nyaude.
Then Suwedi undressed Kalonga as his counterpart Adam was preparing a razorblade which was used to circumcise him.
Within minutes, the compulsory mission was accomplished cutting off Kalonga’s foreskin. He spent a night there and he was released on August 9, 2012, the day he decided to report the matter to the police.
He said the police were still cross-examining the two suspects to establish their intention behind the forced circumcision on Kalonga.
So now, bribery.
Making HIV male circumcision programmes more sustainable
By Bedah Mengo
In some areas in the East African nation, the government partners are giving a token to those who come to be circumcised
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has stepped up efforts to increase access to Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) services in bid to make the programme sustainable.
Dr Athanasius Ochieng, VMMC Manager at National AIDS/STD Control Programme (Nascop) said ... The more people we circumcise, the more the costs go down because of economies of scale,” ...
The VMMC expert noted that currently, the government and its partners are using about 40 U.S dollars to circumcise every man in the programme that has received praise across the world.
“This is too expensive for the government and donor partners. It is unsustainable. The costs can come down only if the number of people who are circumcised increases,” he said.
Ochieng explained that Kenya is seeking to bring down the cost to 27 dollars per individual.
“This can come down further if the number of people increases. A huge number in every centre will ensure that the surgeons and other staff are effectively utilised,” he said. Currently, he noted that some centres do not achieve their targets, which makes costs go up because the surgeons, who are on salary, are paid yet they are not efficiently utilised.
To increase the number of people accessing the services, Ochieng said the government is targeting older men above 55 years and women. [???]
“Most of those people who have gone through VMMC are younger men below 25 years. This shows that there is a gap in the other age groups. We have initiated campaigns to reach out to the older men, who statistics indicate are exposed to HIV virus due to cultural practices, among other things,” he said. [So wouldn't it make more sense to address the cultural practices?]
Ochieng said they are holding more sensitisation [!] forums in the region and in the capital, where more people have also undergone the cut to create demand.
“Among old men, we found out that stigma and age is a great concern. Many old people believe that due to their advancing age, they do not need to undergo the cut since they may not be predisposed to HIV but this is not the case,” he said.
Fear of stigma is another concern for old men because many note they should not get circumcised at the same time with men young enough to be their children.
For women, Onchiri said that they are using them to reach out to men and their sons.
“Experience has shown that women are good agents, who can convince their men and sons to get circumcised,” he said.Research indicates that male circumcision is beneficial to both men and women.
“VMMC reduces the risk of HIV infection among men and limits women’s exposure to the virus. This makes the procedure the best method in fighting HIV,” said Onchiri. [But condoms provide strong, direct protection to both partners.]
In some areas in the East African nation, Ochieng explained that government partners are giving a token to those who come to be circumcised.
“Those who come to VMMC centres are given some small amount of money, about 2 dollars so that this can encourage their colleagues to visit the centre for the minor surgery,” said Ochieng, who noted that the method is being used in Turkana.
Kenya, according to Nascop, is also considering introducing infant and early childhood VMMC to boost male cut for health reasons. [No infant has ever volunteered for circumcision. No study has ever shown any effect of infant circumcision on HIV transmission.]
According to Nascop, Kenya intends to circumcise 860,000 men by 2014. “If we achieve our target by that year, we would have averted about 2 million HIV infections by the year 2025,” he said. [That figure is Just Made Up.]
Ontmoedig besnijden van jongens
Gert van Dijk
Onlangs verscheen in KN een artikel van rabbijn Lody van de Kamp, waarin deze de staf breekt over het feit dat artsenfederatie KNMG een ontmoedigingsbeleid voor jongensbesnijdenis bepleit. Toch zijn de redenen voor zo'n ontmoedigingsbeleid duidelijk.
Jongensbesnijdenis mag alleen uitgevoerd worden door artsen, er worden medische voordelen aan toegeschreven, en artsen worden regelmatig geconfronteerd met complicaties van besnijdenis. Besnijdenis is in strijd met de belangrijkste regel voor artsen 'in de eerste plaats niet schaden' en de regel dat kinderen, die niet zelf kunnen beslissen, alleen behandeld mogen worden wanneer dat in hun medische belang is. Dat is het uitgangspunt van de KNMG, de organisatie van en voor artsen.
Schadelijkheid Het Internationaal Verdrag voor de Rechten van het Kind (IVRK) zegt dat de overheid er zorg voor moet dragen dat schadelijke traditionele gewoontes worden afgeschaft. Wetenschappelijk staat onomstotelijk vast dat besnijdenis schadelijk is. Bij een besnijdenis wordt 25 tot 50 procent van het gezonde huidweefsel van de penis verwijderd. Bij een volwassen man heeft de voorhuid ongeveer de oppervlakte van een ansichtkaart. Direct na de operatie ontstaat bij twee tot vijf procent van de jongens een infectie of bloeding, waarvoor soms ziekenhuisopname nodig is.
Veel jongens (tot twintig procent) krijgen later een plasbuisvernauwing, wat tot problemen met plassen en de blaas kan leiden. Nog later krijgen besneden mannen en hun partners veel vaker seksuele problemen dan niet-besneden mannen, omdat een besneden penis minder gevoelig is. Ook beklagen veel mannen zich over het feit dat zij zonder hun toestemming zijn besneden. Eventuele medische voordelen – zoals een mogelijk verkleinde kans op HIV-overdracht – zijn pas op latere leeftijd relevant en vormen geen rechtvaardiging voor besnijdenis in de kindertijd.
Religieuze vrijheid of lichamelijke integriteit?
Een Duitse rechter oordeelde onlangs dat het recht op religieuze vrijheid van de ouders begrensd wordt door het recht op lichamelijke integriteit van het kind. Die juridische uitspraak past in een debat over jongensbesnijdenis dat in vrijwel de hele westerse wereld wordt gevoerd, ook binnen religieuze groeperingen. In Israël is een groeiende groep ouders die afziet van de besnijdenis.
Gert van Dijk is ethicus bij de KNMG.
Lees hier het artikel van Lody van de Kamp.
Catholic News (Amsterdam)
Against circumcision of boys
By Gert van Dijk
Recently an article appeared in KN by Rabbi Lody van de Kamp, who hauls me over the coals [literally "breaks the staff"] about the fact that the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) advocates to discourage circumcision of boys. Yet the reasons for such discouragement are clear.
Circumcision of boys may be performed only by physicians, when there are medical benefits attributed, and doctors are often confronted with complications of circumcision. Circumcision is contrary to the cardinal rule for doctors 'in the first place, do no harm' and to the rule that children who are not able to decide should only be treated when it is necessary for them medically. That is the premise of the KNMG, the organization of and for physicians.
Many boys (up to twenty percent) later get a stricture of the urethra, causing problems with urination and possibly bladder problems. Still later circumcised men and their partners get sexual problems more often than non-circumcised men, because a circumcised penis is less sensitive. Also, many men complain about the fact that they were circumcised without their consent. Any medical benefits - such as a possible reduced risk of HIV transmission - are relevant at a later age and are no justification for circumcision in childhood.
Religious freedom or physical integrity?
A German court recently ruled that the right to religious freedom of parents is limited by the right to physical integrity of the child. This legal ruling fits into a debate about circumcision of boys being conducted in almost the entire Western world, even within religious groups. In Israel, a growing group of parents refrain from circumcising.
Gert van Dijk is ethicist at the KNMG.Read here the article by Lody van de Kamp.
[The rabbi took van Dijk to task for saying the Cologne decision was "historical" i.e. epoch-making, with snide references to Nazi history - against which the German Basic Law was a reaction! - and to some case in which a woman died. Basically, anything but discuss the ethics of cutting babies' genitals.]
Circumcision, long in decline in the U.S., may get a boost from a doctors’ group
and Bangor Daily News
Circumcision waning in popularity as ‘intactivists’ denounce practice
By Michael Alison Chandler
When Tamar Jacobs became pregnant, she found herself hoping for a girl, mainly because she was dreading a difficult rite of passage that often comes with the birth of a boy — circumcision.
Growing up Jewish in Baltimore, “I never really questioned it,” she said, but the more she read and thought about it, the more “unnecessary and even cruel” circumcision seemed. By the time the grainy 20-week sonogram showed the outward sign of an XY chromosome, she knew she could not go through with it.
“It seemed like such a severe, out-of-this-time thing to do,” she said.
The 32-year-old fiction writer and community college professor is part of a new wave of parents who are questioning not just an ancient Jewish tradition but a long-entrenched American one.
More than 1.2 million infant boys undergo the surgery each year, making the United States one of the industrialized world’s leading producers of circumcised men. But the once ubiquitous practice, in which the foreskin is removed from the penis, is waning.
From a high of about 80 percent in the 1960s, the portion of baby boys leaving hospitals with petroleum-jelly-covered wounds in their diapers dropped to 56 percent in 2008, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (The figures do not include those circumcised in outside clinics or by religious providers.)
The downward trend is probably fueled by Medicaid laws in many states that have stopped paying for the surgery, increased immigration from Latin America and other areas were circumcision is less common, and a growingly vocal cadre of so-called “intactivists” who argue that the practice is a human rights violation.
It also reflects a generation that’s more likely to trust nature and second-guess their medical treatment. For these parents, circumcision has become less of an assumption and more of a choice, and not always an easy one.
An expectant parent wading into the debate around circumcision is likely to discover a maze of medical research, white-hot rhetoric pitting children’s rights against religious freedom, and a choir of bathroom humor.
In interviews for this article, the untrimmed foreskin was alternately derided as an HIV-spreading “wrinkled elephant trunk” or heralded for its “elegant function” and thousands of pleasure-inducing nerve endings.
An uncircumcised California native described the embarrassed feeling of being the kid who looked different in the locker room, and an anti-circumcision activist explained how he spent the past decade trying to re-stretch his shorn foreskin and increase sensitivity in his penis by using a commercially available plastic cone that applies tension to the remaining skin.
Given the prevalence of circumcision, perhaps the most surprising perspective is one offered by American doctors, many of whom summarize the procedure as a “cosmetic” or “aesthetic” choice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, which advises children’s doctors on research-based practices, has been officially neutral on the issue for more than a decade.
According to its 2005 position statement, which reaffirmed its 1999 stance, “existing scientific evidence demonstrates potential medical benefits” of newborn circumcision but not enough to “recommend routine neonatal circumcision.”
That position is poised to change, though, as the AAP is expected to release an updated statement and report reflecting recent research later this month.
While details are not yet available, the new position concludes that the health benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks, said Michael Brady, a pediatric expert at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and a member of the AAP’s task force on circumcision.
The AAP’s new position falls short of a routine recommendation, Brady said, adding that parents should continue to take into account their own cultural, religious or social views. [Trading of the ambiguity of "routine". It would be mad to do it so routinely that parents weren't consulted - Brady's meaning.] “But from a public health perspective, I think it’s a good decision and a lot of children will benefit.” [Since circumcision isn't claimed to prevent any contagious diseases of childhood, how is it a public health issue?]
‘A human right’
At last month’s AIDS conference in Washington, protesters displayed signs outside the Walter E. Washington Convention Center that read “Circumcision is torture” and “Intact genitals are a human right.”
Activists traveled from Norfolk, Boston and New York to hand out condoms as a safer way to contain the virus. They challenge the relevance of the African studies in the United States. And they argue that men, not their parents, should be able to choose what to do with their genitals.
“Things are starting to happen,” said Matthew Hess, president of San Diego-based MGMbill.org, ...
Hess and other activists say a key challenge in their fight is countering denial among circumcised men who don’t want to acknowledge they have been victimized and among the parents and medical practitioners who have gone along with the status quo.
“To cut a body part off a little tiny baby in cold blood, you have to [suppress] a lot of your natural instincts,” said Georganne Chapin, executive director of Intact America, a four-year-old organization opposing infant circumcision.
An estimated 30 percent of men are circumcised around the globe today,... That includes North Sudanese boys circumcised at age 8 (using a cord and a knife) before they can enter school as well as 2-day-old American-born boys clipped [sliced, actually] at the hospital using a clamp — sometimes compared to a “cigar cutter” — and some local anesthetic. [The cigar-cutter-like Mogen clamp is no longer manufatured in the US.]...
Starting in 1971, the American Academy of Pediatrics ruled and then periodically reaffirmed that there was no medical imperative for routine circumcision for babies.
Medical ambivalence [distaste, actually] curbed the practice of nonreligious circumcision in some Western countries, including Canada, New Zealand and Australia, over the past half-century. In Britain, national health insurance after World War II opted not to cover it, and the circumcision rate plummeted.
A cultural alternative
They planned what they called an “alterna-bris,” or what some call a bris shalom (covenant of peace), with a secular rabbi. There was a traditional ha-motzi (blessing for the bread) and a kiddush (blessing of the wine) and a naming ceremony, where their new son, Ray, was given a Jewish name, Reuven, but there was no traditional cutting.
The hardest part was telling her parents. They were at first “a little taken aback,” she said, “worried that somehow that would mean Ray would not be Jewish.’’
But they soon embraced the idea. They hosted the ceremony in their living room and baked challah and hundreds of cookies with their grandson’s name written on them.
“It was really cathartic to talk about some of these things. I think it got all of us thinking in a bigger way,” Jacobs said. “I feel like we are at the beginning of something exciting.”
New personal care product for circumcised men
Centric Research Institute today launched CIRCUMserum™, the first personal care product formulated specifically for use by circumcised men. CIRCUMserum is a daily moisturizing cream made from a patent-pending blend of essential botanical oils designed to condition areas of the penis dulled by the constant exposure resulting from circumcision.
Over 79 percent of American men aged 18 - 80 are circumcised, representing a group of approximately 90 million individuals. Recent medical studies identify a correlation between circumcision and reduced sensation. The International Journal of Men's Health published results of a study that showed circumcised men are 4.5 times more likely to experience erectile dysfunction due to loss of sensitivity. In a further study, The British Journal of Urology International reports that circumcised men can experience up to a 75 percent reduction in sensitivity compared to men who are not circumcised.
Softer Skin Promotes Feelings of Sensation and Sexual Performance
"We're addressing an important but not frequently discussed aspect of the sexual satisfaction of American men," said Dr. James L. Yeager, Chief Technical Officer of Centric Research Institute. "Most of us are circumcised. A decline in sensitivity can impact sexual satisfaction. CIRCUMserum provides a natural, easy to use option and course of action for men to bring back some of the intensity they may have lost in their sex lives."
In a user survey conducted by Centric Research Institute, 75 percent of circumcised participants reported an increase in sensation and greater sexual satisfaction after regular use of the product. Eighty percent (80%) reported feeling results after just 14 days using CIRCUMserum in its recommended daily dose.
[This product gives the lie to the claim that "circumcising does not affect sexual function" but Centric Research Institute may also be compared to Dr Seuss's McMonkey McBean who made money from Sneeches by fitting them with, or removing, their belly-stars.]
The Intactivism Pages
AAP male circumcision policy due in September
By Hugh Young
The American Academy of Pediatrics plans to issue a new policy on male circumcision at the end of the month. The policy is forshadowed in the Contents of the September issue of Pediatrics.
The new policy has been delayed several times since it was announced that a task force had been convened to examine the issue. The previous AAP male circumcision policy was issued in 1999. [This site rebuts it here.]
The AAP has never recommended male circumcision, but since the 1970s it has issued policies that leave the decision up to parents. The policies have always closely reflected US - but not world - cultural biases toward circumcision, omitting the structure and functions of the foreskin, passing over the lack of ethics in practising unnecessary reductive surgery on healthy newborns, and emphasising minor benefits while minimizing its risks and inevitable harms.
The AAP's treatment of the issue is in sharp contrast to that of other countries, such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG), which roundly condems the practice. In May, a court in Cologne, Germany, ruled that circumcision of a healthy boy was bodily harm under the Basic Law.
One member of the task force on male circumcision, Dr Douglas Diekema, has hinted that the policy would lean further towards recommending genital cutting of healthy babies in the USA, in the light of studies of male volunteers for the adult operation in high-HIV-prevalance areas of Africa that seemed to show a reduction in their - but not women's - acquistion of HIV by heterosexual intercourse. (To the contrary, one study suggested male circumcision might increase the risk to women. USAID surveys of HIV rates show higher rates among circumcised than non-circumcised men, in a majority of the countries for which it has figures.)
Dr Diekema was the chair of the AAP's Bioethics Committee in 2010 when it issued a policy that would allow a token, ritual nick to girls' genitals "much less extensive than neonatal male genital cutting". An outcry by anti-FGC organisations, led by Intact America, caused the policy to be "retired" within a month.
Speaking in more general terms, Dr Diekema has said under oath "I fully agree with the Bioethics Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics when they state:
Israel National News
Swiss Hospital Lifts Ban on Circumcision
By Rachel Hirshfeld
A Swiss hospital on Friday said it is lifting the ban on circumcision that had been imposed at the beginning of July following a controversial ruling by a German court, which found that the practice for religious purposes amounted to willful bodily harm.
Officials at the Zurich University Children’s Hospital announced that in the future every male circumcision for religious purposes will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking health factors into account, a Swiss news agency reported.
“The Zurich Children’s Hospital is aware that the circumcision of boys is part of an old and widely spread tradition, be it for religious or social reasons,” a statement said.
It is up to parliament to decide whether the removal of the male foreskin should be a punishable offence, in line with a ban of female circumcision, officials said, according to the news agency.
The hospital management said the decision to resume the practice was taken following consultations with internal and external ethics experts.
Mohels protest restriction on 'suction' during circumcision
By Moshe Heller
Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association calls to stop 'oral suction' technique used by cirmcisers during circumcision rite. Mohels: They're not after child's best interest; they're against circumcision'
The Israel Ambulatory Pediatric Association (IAPA) urged the Health Ministry to put a stop to the ritual of "oral suction" (metzitzah b'peh) which accompanies the Jewish rite of circumcision.
The suction technique was originally practiced as a way to prevent infection, and is perceived by Mohels who practice it as Halachic obligation.
Rabbi Chaim Moshe Weisberg, an esteemed mohel, told Ynet that haredim will continue to uphold the tradition without any change.
According to Weisberg, the recent controversy surrounding the custom is just an attempt to stop the ritual of circumcision altogether. "They're not after the child's best interest; they're against circumcision," Weisberg said adding that "They want all parents to stop circumcising their sons, as they did in Germany."
Weisberg, descendant of a family of mohels, is certain that the IAPA's battle against the "oral suction" technique will not prevail. "The cases of reported diseases, allegedly originating from the custom are very few – and even then they can't prove it was actually transferred from the mohel."
According to Rabbi Moshe Morciano, head of the Circumcision Division of the Chief Rabbinate, "the Rabbinate instructs mohels to consult the parents; those who are interested in the metzitzah b'peh should have it, and those who aren't – won't."
In 2006, the New York State Health Department suggested that parents sign a waiver if they want their newborn to undergo metzitzah b'peh after circumcision. Said suggestion, published in the New York Times, followed cases of neonatal herpes that were allegedly caused by oral suction.
Fearing the transfer of diseases, the IAPA proposes to replace the traditional practice of metzitzah b'peh, which calls for direct contact between the mohel's mouth and the circumcision wound, by using a tube or pipette to avoid direct contact.
Strong opposition to newborn circumcision
By Jo Hartley
Half of the Australian Doctor community believe that the circumcision of newborns is tantamount to child abuse and should never be performed, a survey reveals. [Or rather, half of those who chose to take part in an online survey agree with a statement that ...]
Findings from an online poll show that 74% of those responding to the question ‘should parents be routinely offered circumcision for their newborns in the public system’ said no.
Of these 51% likened the procedure to child abuse, while a further 23% said circumcision was a personal or religious choice and should only be available to parents of newborns in the private sector. [Or rather, they ticked one of those two optional ways of saying "No"]
One doctor wrote: “Circumcision is a personal or religious choice. However, it is a choice that is not made by the person that it is being done to. At the age of majority, the decision... [registration required]
The Local (Switzerland)
Ban religious circumcision: Swiss
By Lyssandra Sears (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A new survey has shown that some 64 percent of Swiss think that religious circumcision should be banned.
Of the 8,000 participants who took part in the survey, conducted by news site 20 Minuten Online, over 67 percent of men and 56 percent of women thought that the practice should be banned.
Interestingly, almost a third of circumcised men also spoke in favour of a ban, with 12 percent wishing in hindsight that they had not been circumcised.
Jewish and Muslim respondents, for whom the practice has religious significance, were against a ban. Some 93 percent of Muslim respondents and 75 percent of Jewish respondents said they would not want a ban. [Implying 7% of Muslims and 25% of Jews would not object to one.]
Over one quarter of the male respondents who took part in the survey were circumcised, with 96 percent of Muslims and 89 percent of Jews having received the intervention. Twenty percent of those who had been circumcised did not belong to either faith. [Suggesting a non-religious circumcision rate of 5%]
Approximately 60 percent of those who voted no to the ban said that they believed such a ban would be an infringement on religious freedom.
Almost a third of the women questioned said they saw no benefit in having a penis circumcised. Nevertheless, half said it was a good thing from a hygiene point of view. The remainder admitted to not knowing whether there were advantages to circumcision or not.
Norway recommends 'symbolic' circumcision
THE HAGUE - Norway’s ombudsman for children's rights has proposed that Jews and Muslim replace male circumcision with a symbolic, nonsurgical ritual.
Dr. Anne Lindboe told the newspaper Vart Land last month that circumcision in boys was a violation of a person’s right to decide over his own body. “Muslim and Jewish children are entitled to the same protection as all other children,“ she said. She added that the practice caused unnecessary pain and was medically unbeneficial.
Lindboe, a pediatrician, was appointed ombudsman in June. Her predecessor, Reidar Hjermann, proposed setting 15 as the minimum age for circumcision. According to Jewish religious law, Jewish babies must be circumcised when they are eight days old.
The children’s ombudsman is an independent governmental institution entrusted with safeguarding the rights of minors.
Ervin Kohn, president of The Jewish Community of Oslo, said that Norwegian Jews “will not be able to live in a society where circumcision is forbidden.” He noted that the mandate of Norway’s children’s ombudsman did not extend to devising Jewish rituals. [No need, Jews have already devised them.] Norway has a Jewish community of about 700.
In June, a spokesperson for Norway’s Center Party, which has 11 out of 169 seats in parliament, proposed a ban on circumcision in babies.
The Star (Vancouver)
Friends of the foreskin march against circumcision
By Petti Fong
VANCOUVER—A savvy street performer knows when another act is about to overshadow his own, so when placards proclaiming Foreskin is Fabulous began appearing across the street, Morgan “Wizardhawk” paid attention.
Morgan’s 7-year-old son Thomas has a stick-juggling act he performs in public, and on Saturday the two of them found themselves competing for attention with a dozen or so anti-circumcision protesters outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Robson St.
It was another event in what organizers with the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project called the first annual Foreskin Pride March. Earlier, the protesters, holding signs proclaiming Circumcision is Mutilation, demonstrated outside a circumcision clinic and at the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons. Later, on Saturday night, there was an educational seminar extolling the virtues of foreskin.
Morgan and Thomas were unknowingly the circumcised and uncircumcised versions of what the group was demonstrating about.
“My sons aren’t circumcised and I was. So I had no control over what happened (to me), but I could control it with my boys and didn’t think circumcision was right any more,” said Morgan.
“It was interesting to hear these guys talk about foreskin and circumcision and stuff. That’s something you don’t hear every day on the streets of Vancouver.”
The protests coincided with Vancouver’s Pride parade, and on Sunday a pants-optional Foreskin Pride contingent marched in the main parade. The events were capped with a demonstration at Sunset Beach of which kind of fruit can be picked up with an uncircumcised penis (grapes).
Circumcision does have its defenders. Some religions dictate male infants should be circumcised, and Dr. Neil Pollock, a Vancouver surgeon specializing in circumcision, advocates the surgery on medical grounds. (It was his clinic that was the object of Saturday’s demonstration.)
This issue grabbed headlines earlier this summer when a court in Cologne, Germany banned medically unnecessary circumcision of minors, ruling it is a criminal act.
Glen Callendar, founder of the Foreskin Awareness Project, and his supporters hope to eventually bring a similar case before Canada’s courts.
“For years, there was this idea that babies had to be circumcised because the thought was that boys couldn’t keep their penises clean,” Callendar said. “These are boys that will grow up to be doctors, lawyers, and the notion they can’t keep their penises clean on their own is just ridiculous.”
Canada has banned female genital mutilation, and he thinks it’s time to do the same for circumcision, a procedure he considers invasive.
Callendar, a comedian, said he’s not concerned about the scant turnout for Saturday’s protests.
“Every serious social movement starts with a lot of people making fun at you. They are threatened by what you’re doing,” he said. “Every group that has asked for equality has faced ridicule.”
Uganda's president dismisses circumcision, HIV research
By Tidi Kwidini
Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, has taken a swipe at the current UN backed male circumcision for HIV prevention program massively promoted across Africa, and has cautioned people against considering male circumcision as the remedy and automatic control of HIV/AIDS infection.
President Museveni said that the messages promoting the practice were misguiding and may put the lives of many people in danger since it had not been proven to be scientifically true.
“I have witnessed Muslims and other people from tribes that cherish circumcision like the Bagisu, die of Aids. Therefore, who told [health workers and leaders] that circumcision [prevents] HIV [infection]? ” he said.
Museveni advised leaders and health workers to sensitize the youth about the dangers of peer pressure, saying many young people have been influenced by their friends into engaging in early sex and pre-marital sex and early marriages, not in getting circumcised to avoid being infected with HIV.
“[Leaders and health workers] are busy spreading confusion of circumcision, instead of concentrating on behaviour change,” he said.
His comments come as Zimbabwe’s government health advisor to the president Timothy Stamps also rubbished the method hinting that there was no comparative scientific basis for it.
To a greater extent many would have to agree with Stamps, that rather than channelling money into a project that does not have any guarantees or that would only promote reckless sexual behaviour, the money to jump start this program could be best used in many other areas-one of them being the promotion of sexual awareness and sexual health programs that are much needed, especially in countries where there are high percentages of people contracting HIV/Aids. Male circumcision, the oldest surgical invention that is being pushed as the ‘intervention bullet’ for HIV is not the answer to the ever growing problem of HIV/Aids.
Although there are studies that have suggested that circumcised men are half as likely to contract the virus from unprotected sex as their uncircumcised counterparts, the reality is that circumcision only offers partial protection and there is still a significant risk of contracting HIV and other STI’s if men engage in unprotected sex with an infected partner(s). Further circumcision does not offer the man’s partner any protection from contracting HIV whether he is or is not circumcised.
In addition, this UN backed program will only promote reckless sexual behaviour by irresponsible people who think that circumcision is the new form of protection. However, the actual reality is that condoms are about the most effective way of ensuring that both sexually active males and females are less likely to contract the virus.
Past and present surveys as suggested by (Bourne 2008) have revealed that most men would be willing to undergo the knife. However, the argument is that it would be fairly short-sighted not to consider that while circumcision may offer a 60% chance of not contracting HIV that not coupling circumcision services with education on HIV prevention and safe-sex-provider initiated counselling and testing, as well as referrals would be unwise.
The effect of circumcision on male-to-female HIV transmission has not been extensively researched. Boyle and Hill (2011) highlighted some concerns about the methodology of the three randomised controlled trials (RCT) carried out in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. They stressed issues to do with researcher expectation bias, participant bias, inadequate double blinding, selection and sampling bias. Wawer et al(2009) in their study on the trials argued that male circumcision was a possible cause of HIV transmission as it was associated with over 60% increased transmission of HIV to female sex partners of circumcised HIV-infected men (Wawer et al., 2009).
The trial involving 922 HIV infected men in Uganda found circumcision did not reduce HIV transmission to uninfected female partners. The findings suggested that the risk of HIV transmission could even have been increased in the six weeks after circumcision due to unhealed wounds from the procedure. However, another study found that male circumcision was not significantly associated with women’s HIV risk.
[The proposition that circumcision itself increases the risk to women has been insufficiently considered.]
Furthermore, HIV and the epidemic reality is that women account for the majority of people who live with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa. Bourne (2008) suggests that a woman is 8 times more likely than a man to contract HIV during intercourse with an HIV positive partner regardless of circumcision.Therefore it is clear that circumcision is an imperfect way to HIV prevention.
[Therefore the much-touted "60% reduction" amounts to less than 7% reduction in the bigger picture - if it amounts to anything.]
Although the main beneficiaries of male circumcision are men let those who are pro-circumcision not lose sight of the fact that women are stakeholders in these programs. Before such a program can be even considered the main focus should be on areas where funding is really necessary, specifically equipping men and women with sexual advice, including men and women’s health groups and those living with HIV, should be involved in the analysis of how circumcision will affect them.
If there is a possible future for this program, it should be closely monitored and evaluated in collaboration with these health groups. Funding should especially be allocated as well to initiating new research into what biomedical, structural, and behavioural interventions can best help women protect themselves from HIV infection such as microbicides (Bourne, 2008).
Perhaps the most important thing that also needs to be done before this program is considered is to communicate clearly about what male circumcision will, and won’t, do for a man and his female partner(s). Furthermore undertake education campaigns to ensure that women and men have a clear understanding that this program is not an excuse to promote promiscuity.
Circumcision does not completely protect men from HIV and circumcised men should continue using condoms to protect themselves and their partner(s) from infection. It should also be made clear that it is no excuse for females to have unprotected sex with circumcised men as there are no guarantees. Male circumcision is not a vaccine, and it is not a cure-all. It is simply one of the best ways to prevent HIV infections in men. [Simply?]
Charity organization HIV/AIDS Zimbabwe (HAZ) have argued in their review that there are multiple factors that need to be examined when evaluating between male circumcision and HIV prevalence especially in relation to risky sexual behavior, time of male circumcision, education, among other factors. HAZ in their counter argument in relation to Stamps, suggest that policy makers need to implement male circumcision as a public health measure to stop growing heterosexual transmission of HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa and globally, as various findings have otherwise suggested that it is in fact effective in conjunction with contraceptive methods (hivaidszimbabwe.org, 2012). However, the question still remains, is this program crucial enough to divert funds from the real pertinent issues in order to test a theory that might not really be effective?
Metro News (Vancouver)
Foreskin Pride March rallies for ban on child circumcisions
By Kate Webb
A group of foreskin-loving activists plans to rally outside the downtown offices of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C. Saturday calling on the federal government to ban circumcisions on minors.
Glen Callender, founder of the first ever Foreskin Pride March, wants to see the Criminal Code amended to include foreskins in the list of specified sexual organs that can not be mutilated or removed before the age of 18.
The College’s official stance is that routine infant circumcision is a cosmetic, medically unnecessary procedure, with risks that outweigh the benefits.
“The bottom line here is that here in Canada we protect the genitalia of girls from any kind of unnecessary surgery until they’re 18 years old, and then they have the right to modify their vulva as they see fit,” he told Metro.
“If girls have that right, then boys and intersex kids should have the same right. The Charter guarantees equal protection under the law.”
Circumcision rates have been falling in Western countries for decades, according to the Royal Dutch Medical Association, which condemns the practice.
In the U.K., the number of circumcisions on newborns fell from 35 per cent in the 1930s to 3.8 per cent by 2000. In the U.S. the incidence fell from 85 per cent in 1965 to 56 per cent in 2006.
In Canada, the prevalence fell from 47 per cent in 1973 to 32 per cent in 2007.
Dr. Neil Pollock, one of Vancouver’s most prominent circumcision surgeons who has performed the procedure more than 30,000 times, did not return Metro’s call requesting comment Thursday, and when reached Friday said he was too busy to do a phone interview on such short notice.
The Foreskin Pride marchers will rally at 3 p.m. at the Vancouver Art Gallery after protesting at noon on Saturday at the College. An adults-only education session on foreskin at the Qmunity queer resource centre at Bute and Davie Streets starts at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, for the third year, Callender will host adults-only demonstrations at his “foreskin awareness booth” from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Sunset Beach Pride Festival.
Father of child who lapsed into coma after circumcision procedure demands probe
AL-BAHA – The father of a child who slipped into coma following a circumcision procedure during which he was administered general anesthesia, has demanded that those responsible for his son’s condition be punished.
The child’s father, Ali Al-Zahrani, lodged a complaint against Al-Mandaq General Hospital in Al-Baha with Prince Mishari Bin Saud, Emir of Al-Baha Region, who ordered that investigation be initiated into the case.
“I have twins, Muhammad and Mazin, and both had an appointment on the 6th day of Ramadan to have a circumcision operation at the hospital. Nothing was supposed to go wrong. It was a simple operation which millions of Muslim babies undergo,” the father told Al-Madinah newspaper.
Both children were admitted to the hospital and medical tests were done in preparation of the circumcision procedure. Muhammad was admitted to the operation room for the procedure which took an hour and a half. When he got out, Al-Zahrani said Muhammad had blood stains on his face and chest and his respiratory rate was low. Muhammad’s twin brother, Mazin, was also given a local anesthesia during the circumcision operation which was successful. When Muhammad’s condition deteriorated, he was referred to King Fahd Hospital in Al-Baha where he was admitted to the ICU.
After investigations, doctors found that the child had a severe lung infection caused by the anesthesia. He was hooked to a mechanical ventilator and given antibiotics. The next day, the ICU doctor called the father and told him that Muhammad’s condition had deteriorated further and he suffered from a collapsed lung. Doctors operated on the child to stabilize his condition.
Al-Zahrani pleaded for help and asked those in charge to start an investigation into the case and hold doctors who committed the horrible medical error responsible.
Balder Blog (full transcript)
Denmark: Paediatrician accuses Chief Rabbi of lying about circumcision complications
... transscript of a TV Programme aired by the main Danish public service channel Danmark's Radio on Wednesday July 18 at 18:30 hours.
Studio host Steffen Kretz: One of Denmark's leading pediatricians, has accused the leader of the Danish 'Mosaic Faith Society' [Mosaisk Trossamfund], the largest religious organization among Denmark's estimated 7000 Jews, of having mutilated young male infants when they were circumcised.
Dr. Preben Kirkegaard: 'We have seen examples of all the skin of the penis having been taken off, also when performed by Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner.
Steffen Kretz: The accusation is categorically denied by Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner who has circumcised more than a thousand newly born infant boys.
Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner: It was me who took care of the Jewish circumcisions over forty years, and there were done about a thousand, and there has not been one complication...
Dr. Preben Kirkegaard: There we can see; all the skin has been removed of the whole penis...
... During my time at Rigshospitalet, there were brought in several boys each year, who were circumcised 'down town', as it is called,
Speaker: In many cases far too much of the skin had been cut off.
Dr. Preben Kirkegaard: ... and some of them were about to bleed out completely, I must say, their lives were actually endangered.
Speaker: But the recent days discussion of circumcision of primarily Jewish and Muslim boys, earlier today caused the head of the Jews in Denmark to stress, that a ban of the ritual practice would chase the Jews out of Denmark.
Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner: We would pack our suitcases as soon as possible, and end 400 years of Jewish life in Denmark.
Speaker: One of those Jews who were circumcised at an early age however, does not agree.
Keld Koplev: It is torture and mutilation of male infants. Why should a rabbi, who doesn't have a medical education, be able to do that? Cutting into other people, cutting into children, I don't understand.
Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner: Because it is me who has taken care of the Jewish circumcisions, through 40 years, and there were about a thousand, and there never has been one complication.
Dr. Preben Kirkegaard: He is lying if he says that it never happened.
Speaker: Preben Kirkegaard continues to work as a doctor, and with the cases he has seen in mind, his verdict about circumcision is clear:
Dr. Preben Kirkegaard: It is child abuse
Steffen Kretz: Good evening Bent Lexner, these are tough accusations against you. It is child abuse, we hear the Doctor say.
And he says, that he has had boys who were circumcised by you in his care, who were mutilated because there were complications, what do you have to say to this criticism?
Rabbi Bent Lexner: First I would like to say that it actually is true, that there has been a situation that I know about where parents that I knew, went to the hospital, where Preben Kirkegaard apparently was on duty at the time being, and what I mostly remember from that case, is that the parents were completely shocked about the treatment they had got.
That this doctor, who now has some opinions about the case, they were shocked by his attitude. He ripped off the bandage, and I have seen the pictures some years ago, I can understand they can perhaps appear dramatic, but I just want to put it to the Doctors attention, that that is the way a circumcision looks, completely natural without problems. [The picture clearly shows a degloved penis.]
Steffen Kretz: But the Doctor directly says, that, sorry to interrupt, he says directly that you are lying when you say that there have been no complications with the many circumcisions you have performed through the years. What do you say to that accusation?
Rabbi Bent Lexner: I would like to say that it is true; I am sorry that I did not point that out at a that time, when I was interviewed in a car, That I should have said that there had been an example that I knew about at the Rigshospitalet [hospital]
But I'd like to say, that it ended with, that the reason was that there were problems with a virus in the child [blaming the victim] , and there is nobody who is informed about circumcisions, who will allege that I have destroyed anything at all, that is an unreasonable accusation, which only has something to do with attitudes. [ad hominem]
And around we go again...
3,000 Malawian men cut off their foreskins: Less cervical cancer, reduces Aids risks
By Malawi News Agency
Malawian cancer expert at the country’s sole certified oncology unit at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QUECH) has asked authorities to consider exploring possibilities of using medical male circumcision as a measure of reducing cases of cervical cancer in women.
The country’s lone oncologist, Dr Leo Masamba told the Malawi News Agency (Mana) that though no research has been conducted locally, there are theoretical linkages between the HIV virus and the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) which is one of the major causes of cervical cancer in women.
Dr Masamba’s sentiments come at a time when more men are willingly to go for certified medial male circumcision since its endorsement by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a means of reducing HIV infection in 2007.
“WHO proved out that male circumcision is one of the effective ways of preventing HIV transmission with the foreskin of a manhood being the agent and HPV is also transmitted in the same way. [Not so.]
“Since cervical cancer is largely associated with HIV as sexually active women and men can take the HPV if they have sex with someone else who has this cancer, there is a high probability that if HIV can be reduced by male circumcision then the same applies to cervical cancer,” said Dr Masamba. [Total confusion.]
He said HIV and cervical cancer are similar in that they are sexually transmitted infections.[That is a gross oversimplification]
the Swazi Observer (has a form for conmments, but has never printed any)
Uncircumcised men at high risks
By Winile Mavuso
An uncircumcised man carries more germs than a circumcised one, Swaziland National Editor’s Forum Chairperson Jabu Matsebula revealed.
Uncircumcised men have a high risk of getting, prostate cancer (50–100% higher in uncircumcised men). [The numbers are pure fiction.] Uncircumcised penis increases the risk of thrush and sexually transmitted infections such as human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, genital herpes and syphilis. [HPV causes syphilis? Nonsense!] Matsebula challenged the media during a workshop hosted by PSI on Male Circumcision at Tums Water World last weekend, to disseminate more information on the advantages of circumcision, especially in the fight against HIV.
He said HIV became a cause for concern after seeing that a lot of his colleagues were dying in the newsroom.
He said editors resolved to join in the fight against its spread by disseminating information to equip people in order to prevent themselves from acquiring the virus.
Other speakers during the workshop included Mr. Swaziland Linda Dlamini who got circumcised two years ago.
Dlamini explained that he was reluctant at first to do the procedure because of fear, but was happy that he eventually did it as he would be able to protect his family from sexually transmitted infections when he gets married. [When he gets married and continues to have unprotected sex with other women, that is? Dangerously wrong.]
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