News items are copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)
- thanks to Joseph4GI
November 28, 2013
Circumcision without consent - two heartfelt complaints
"I'm a very irritated man today."I've been away from home for some time now.I went home today,and was shocked to find that my 10-year old nephew was circumcised last Friday. I was infuriated, boarded a vehicle to the clinic to seek clarification from the doctor who took him from school together with other young boys for the cut. My mother did not sign the consent form, his mother did not sign the consent,and I was away. The child is now in pain, and could not even answer the questions I asked him today when I went home. I'm really saddened by this,because my conversation with the mutilator did not yield any fruitful outcome.My mother says there's nothing we can do about it!...
While in the clinic yard, I saw them ferry boys into the compound using their pickup trucks. Some had just undergone the operation. I couldn't help being their. I had my camera, but couldn't take any picture. The clinic is Ober Health Centre. Really, I'm lost for words to describe my anger. I talked to two of the doctors, one could not stay longer during the conversation because I could see my facts were a bu[r]den to him so he walked away into one of the pickups and drove away. The one who carried on the conversation, later offered to give me a job with the Nyanza Reproductive Society saying that I should report to their offices tomorrow. He gave me his phone number!... "
- from a Kenyan Intactivist on Facebook.
The Secretary of the Board of the "Nyanza Reproductive Health Society" is Dr Robert Bailey, who led one of the three trials claiming to show circumcision protects against HIV. Also connected is Prof Kawango Agot, whose name appears on several papers promoting circumcision. It's basically a front for circumcisionism, and a job with it would not be at all secure.
Elinor Daniel, the mother of a boy ordered to be circumcised by a rabbinic court, writes:
"Help!!! I'm asking for the help of the public!!! I am a mother to a baby. The Rabbinical Court is forcing me to cut my year old son against my will (circumcise him) while subjecting me to heavy financial sanctions daily!!!
After my exposure to the information regarding circumcision, I refuse to mutilate my baby. I don't have the right and I do not agree! He was born whole and he will stay whole! His integrity is his full right! The Religious Court has no right to do that! No one in the whole world is authorized to force me to mutilate my son, to cut his penis!
What kind of a state is this?!!! What is this??? Where do we live??? Could the Religious Court force upon me anything during the divorce? In particular, religious oppression, unnecessary cutting of the penis of an helpless baby??? A non-reversible surgical operation!!! A foreskin does not renew itself! The baby can not express his own will. The right to decide is his alone. It is his body!! The right, is not mine, nor anyone else's in the entire world, but his own only!!!
I am pleading for help!!! I love my son very much!!! I do not want to hurt him!!! Please pass this message on to anyone possible so it won't be a precedent for future divorce cases in the Rabbinical Court which authorizes itself to force religious oppression upon a nonreligious divorcing person! Why does the religious court take advantage of its monopoly on marriage???!! It's a degrading abuse of power, used for religious oppression!!! Religion has to be voluntary from the heart, not by force and financial penalties!
Where do we live??? Where is the supervision??? Where is the government???!!! I am crying for help!!! Unfortunately, here, in the state of Israel!!! Mother"
- Elinor Daniel
Israeli women demonstrate in support of Elinor:
Haaretz: No to forced circumcision: Civil courts need to send an important message that individual rights take precedence over religious customs, however widespread they are....
Gynecologists May Treat Men, Board Says in Switch
by Denise Grady
A professional group that certifies obstetrician-gynecologists reversed an earlier directive and said on Tuesday that its members were permitted to treat male patients for sexually transmitted infections and to screen men for anal cancer.
The statement from the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology eased restrictions announced in September, which said that gynecologists could lose their board certification if they treated men. Exceptions were made to allow certain procedures, ...
... but screening men who were at high risk for anal cancer was not permitted, so the September decision left some gynecologists struggling to find colleagues in other specialties to treat their male patients and to track those who were enrolled in studies.
Like cervical cancer, anal cancer is usually caused by the human papillomavirus, or HPV, which is sexually transmitted. This type of cancer is rare, but its incidence is increasing, especially among men and women infected with H.I.V.
Experts in anal cancer asked the board to reconsider its position, and some started letter-writing campaigns. Patient advocacy groups expressed worry that the prohibition would interfere with research and make it harder for male patients to find screening and treatment.
The board had said it wanted to protect the profession as a female specialty and limit the nongynecological work performed by its members. But Dr. Kenneth L. Noller, the board’s director of evaluation, said board members had reconsidered and realized that gynecologists had a long tradition of treating sexually transmitted infections in both men and women, and that HPV and problems related to the virus fell into that category.
Babies Seem To Know Themselves Soon After Birth
by Thomas Andrew Gustafson
Understanding you exist as a person happens a lot sooner than you might think.
A study involving 40 cute, pudgy babies found that they were aware of their bodies — and even displayed a sense of ownership of them — less than two days after being born.
Both of those qualities are key ingredients in realizing your own existence, says the study's lead author, Maria Laura Filippetti, a doctoral candidate specializing in cognitive development at Birkbeck College, University of London.
"Body awareness refers to the feeling of being alive," she told Shots. "Body ownership refers to the feeling of having a body, the sense that this body belongs to me."
Past studies reveled how important these two aspects of human life were for infants, but this study was the first to discover it in newborns at birth.
How did the researchers figure it out? Filippetti and her colleagues tested the infants' ability to recognize themselves using a test similar to the old rubber hand illusion.
That test tricks the mind into thinking a fake rubber hand actually belongs to a person's body. Researchers lightly stroke a person's real hand with a paintbrush while it's hidden from his or her view. Simultaneously, the researchers stroke a rubber hand that's in plain sight. Stroking the two at the same time and in the same places means the person feels the paintbrush while seeing the action elsewhere.
Normally, a person's brain associates the feeling of one's hand with the sight of the hand. But the brain can be confused by a trick like this and start to think the rubber hand is the one it should pay attention to.
For the infants, the test was very similar. Again, a paintbrush was used, but this time the researchers stroked the babies' cheeks as they watched a video of the same thing happening to another baby.
The researchers tested how the babies behaved when the paintbrush was touched at different times and at the same time on their faces. Since babies can't talk, their researchers gauged the babies' reactions by measuring how long they looked at the baby in the video, Filippetti says.
"A longer looking time for a stimulus compared to another one is a measure of discrimination and preference for that stimulus," she tells Shots.
The newborns did watch the other baby in the video longer when the paintbrush strokes on both happened simultaneously, rather than at different times, or not at all. That response to simultaneous stimulation shows a sense of body awareness and ownership, the researchers say. Here's a of how the test went.
The researcher also performed a second experiment with a twist: They showed the babies the same video turned upside down. The babies tested didn't respond to the simultaneous paintbrush strokes.
'Intactivists' take to the streets in Providence
by Steve Ahlquist
“The destruction to the male genitals is absolute,” says Brother K. “Total. You’re left with a fraction of what God and nature intended. It’s appalling.”
It’s Sunday morning on Hope Street in Providence and cars are whizzing by. Some honk their horns in solidarity; others carry passengers clearly confused as to the necessity of a demonstration against circumcision featuring men in white jumpsuits with large red bloodstains on their crotches
Circumcision doctor in GMC investigation to quit NHS
by Nicola Dowling
A doctor under investigation by the General Medical Council after circumcising a child says he is resigning from the NHS.
Dr Muhamad Siddiqui, a hospital surgeon, had conditions imposed on his GMC registration after a complaint by the parents of the toddler.
The doctor, who carried out the procedure at the child's home, denies all the allegations.
Dr Siddiqui operated his own mobile circumcision service outside the NHS.
The GMC investigation was launched after a complaint by Kelly Braiha and her husband Ghali, from Littlehampton in West Sussex.
They claim their 23-month-old son Najem was left traumatised and suffered an infection because Dr Siddiqui, who works at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, did not take hygienic precautions.
Mrs Braiha says she believes home circumcisions should now be banned.
Dr Siddiqui is also accused of failing to obtain indemnity insurance for his private work and of carrying out regulated procedures without the necessary Care Quality Commission registration.
He denies all the allegations against him.
After an initial investigation by the GMC, the case has been referred to a fitness-to-practise hearing.
In the meantime, the GMC issued an interim order banning Dr Siddiqui from carrying out circumcisions anywhere other than in a hospital or clinical setting.
After the arrangements for the procedure were agreed, the programme contacted Dr Siddiqui again and told him the call had been made by a researcher posing as the father of a boy he wanted circumcised.
Dr Siddiqui said he wanted to continue performing home circumcisions but he was in the process of resigning from his NHS job and surrendering his GMC registration.
This would mean he would not be able to practise as a doctor but because of regulatory loopholes he would be able to carry on performing circumcisions privately.
[In fact anyone at all, with no qualificaitons whatsoever, may genitally cut a boy.]
Asked why he had agreed to carry out a home circumcision when there was a GMC order preventing him from doing so, he said he would not have carried out the procedure until his resignation had been formalised.
Dr Siddiqui said: 'I don't agree with the limitations the GMC has imposed on me. I don't want to be at odds with the GMC."
Healthcare workers have to be registered with the CQC if they want to perform home circumcisions but Dr Siddiqui felt he did not have to be.
Those who have no formal medical training, however, are not required to be registered with any of the regulators.
5live Investigates has also spoken to consultants who have told the programme they are concerned about the number of children they are seeing with medical complications after some home circumcisions.
They are now calling for tighter controls.
'Children have died'
He said this could include bleeding, which is particularly dangerous for babies, pain, damage to the penis and loss of the top of the penis.
[Circumcision always causes damage to the penis....]
He added: "Unfortunately children have died in the last number of years in Britain and Ireland from circumcision-related complications.
"It does make sense that everybody should register, that everybody should be on the same playing field.
"It makes sense for the child it makes sense for the family it makes sense for everyone."
[What would make sense for the child is not being genitally cut before they could give informed consent.]
Ky. high court turns away penis amputation lawsuit
FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) -- A Kentucky man who sought damages from a doctor who removed a cancer-riddled section of his penis during what was scheduled to be a simple circumcision has lost his final appeal.
The Kentucky Supreme Court opted not to take up the case of Phillip Seaton of Waddy. The court did not comment on its reasons for turning down the case.
Seaton sued Dr. John Patterson over the amputation.
A jury in Shelby County ruled in favor of Patterson at trial. The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld that decision, finding that the jury correctly concluded that Seaton consented to allow Patterson to perform any procedure deemed necessary during the Oct. 19, 2007, surgery.
The Seatons also sued Jewish Hospital, where the surgery took place. The hospital settled with the couple for an undisclosed amount.
18-day-old baby's organ partially cut off during circumcision
An Arab doctor accidentally cut off the top of the genital organ of an 18-day-old Saudi boy during circumcision, prompting the hospital to call a well known pediatric surgeon for an urgent operation, a newspaper in the Gulf Kingdom reported on Thursday.
The doctor tried to correct his mistake by stitching the severed part but the bleeding did not stop and the boy could not stop screaming of pain, Sabq said.
“The hospital then called a pediatric surgeon from King Abdul Aziz Hospital for an urgent surgery…the doctor managed to stop the bleeding and restore the severed part,” the paper said in a report from the western Saudi town of Taif.
There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.
Health News Digest
Circumcisions in Older Boys and Related Costs Skyrocket in Florida
(HealthNewsDigest.com) - GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Circumcisions in Florida boys over the age of 1 have increased dramatically in recent years, doubling costs to the state, a study by University of Florida Health surgical researchers shows.
Saleem Islam, M.D., an associate professor in the College of Medicine department of surgery's division of pediatric surgery, said he and his study collaborators believe the state's decision to terminate Medicaid funding for routine circumcisions in babies under 1 month old has led to the increase in circumcisions for older boys. The study was published in the September issue of the journal The American Surgeon.
[Is anyone surprised? More intact babies means more boys available to be circumcised later. It would be surprising if a fall in newborn circumcisions did NOT lead to a rise in later circumcisions.]
Islam said families should decide for themselves whether to have their sons circumcised, but emphasized that circumcision in the newborn period is preferable for several important reasons.[NOT circumcising at all is preferable to either early or late - especially to the penis's owner - for several important reasons.]
"The benefits are that the child does not have to undergo general anesthesia, there is much less cost to public monies, it's safer for the kids to get it done [Ther is no evidence for this] and that's the right age, as well," he said.[Not circumcising has all those benefits and more. And what does "the right age" mean?]
Because newborns require only local anesthesia for a circumcision, newborn circumcisions are safer and much less expensive. They also have a lower risk of complications. Circumcising older boys requires general anesthesia to ensure the patient remains still during the procedure. [Yes, a baby can simply be strapped down.]
Florida was one of numerous states to stop Medicaid coverage for routine newborn circumcisions after a 1999 report from the American Academy of Pediatrics said the procedure may not be medically necessary.
[May not be? 2,000,000,000 happily intact males in the world prove it IS not medically necessary.]
Islam explained that circumcisions can increase hygiene in the penis, and some uncircumcised males suffer from recurrent urinary tract or penile infections. Some parents will choose circumcision because of these potential problems or for religious or cultural reasons. Islam said he does not take a firm stance either for or against circumcision, but prefers for parents to decide.
The state cut off Medicaid coverage for the procedure in 2001. Many insurance companies also stopped paying for newborn circumcisions after the report. Funding remains available for circumcisions in older males when the procedure is deemed medically necessary, such as when repeated infections occur.
In 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics reversed its stance on routine newborn circumcisions, citing research indicating they may help protect against HIV and provide other benefits. [They did not reverse their stance, nor recommend it, they just shifted their collective bottom on the fence.]
UF Health researchers' study of data from 2003 to 2008 shows publicly funded circumcisions increased at a rate more than six times greater than the increase in privately funded circumcisions. They also cost approximately $111.8 million over the five-year time period, an amount estimated by medical facility charges during the study period. Fees for health care providers were excluded from the study, meaning the actual amount paid for the procedures was probably greater. The study results also showed that circumcisions in boys over age 1 were more common each year than those performed on newborns.
[What's missing here is, what proportions of babies and older boys were circumcised before and after funding was ended? When funding is ended and fewer boys are circumcised, the vast majority never need to be circumcised, saving public funding. (Even fewer are ever circumcised where circumcision has not been customary for more than a generation, doctors or their partners have foreskin asn the know its value, they are taught more about the foreskin than how to cut it off, and their anatomy texts actually show the foreskin.)]
By 2008, yearly Medicaid costs for circumcision in boys through age 17 reached $33.6 million, compared with $14.9 million in 2003. Meanwhile, private charges for circumcisions in Florida rose from $9.3 million to $14.1 million. Circumcisions in 2008 accounted for 30 percent of the estimated total costs for the procedure during the five-year window.
Islam said the increase in circumcisions among older boys likely stemmed from parents, supported by referring physicians, who had hygiene or medical concerns, but were unable or unwilling to pay for the procedure during the newborn period. UF Health pediatric surgeons noted they had talked with some of their own patients' parents about the decision to have an older boy circumcised and found that many parents would have opted for newborn circumcision if public funding were available.
[So what? Doubtless many parents whose son's DIDN'T have issues would have opted to cut them if the taxpayer paid for it.]
The American Academy of Pediatrics' new stance on the issue may lead states and insurance companies to restore funding for the procedure in newborns, a change Islam would welcome.
"It would make a lot of sense to offer it (newborn circumcision) to families who otherwise perhaps may not be able to afford it," he said, "and then say, ‘Here, we are offering it to you when your child is a newborn. You have a choice to make here. If you choose to get it done now, there are a lot of benefits over having it done later.'"
[And he says he's not pro-circumcision....]
Knights' former sacristan charged
A former sacristan for the Knights of Malta [and prominent advocate of infant circumcision] has been charged with a dozen counts of sexual offences against children dating from 1966 to 2011.
Vernon Quaintance, of Upper Norwood, south-east London, has been charged with one count of indecent assault against a 10-year-old boy in 1966, the same offence against an 11-year-old in 1976, and a single count of sexual assault against a boy aged 11.
He is further accused of three counts of inciting a boy aged under 16 to commit an act of gross indecency. Charges against him also include the possession of 1,285 indecent images of children.
A police spokesman said Mr Quaintance appeared at West London Magistrates Court in August and a case management hearing was due at the end of this month.
Mr Quaintance, who was made a companion of the Order of Malta, had been serving at the order's weekly Mass at the Church of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth in north London. He was first introduced to the church in 2007 and stopped serving in 2011.
An inquiry this year found that three senior members of the Order of Malta were found to have failed to report alleged concerns about Mr Quaintance. ...
Emeritus Professor Brian Morris recently removed the "circumcision humor" page from his personal website, circinfo.net, including a verse by "Vernon Quantance". He has also removed the links to circumcision fetish sites. A list of "possible circumcisers in Australia and New Zealand" is still prefaced by Vernon Quaintance's Gilgal Society logo. A nearly identical list is published by Professor Morris's "Circumcision Foundation of Australia".
The Gilgal Society has published a sheaf of leaflets by Morris and a fetishistic video of an adult circumcision. Its website continues to advertise his leaflets, though "major computer failure" prevents it from selling them. Soon after Quaintance's conviction, Professor Morris removed the Gilgal logo from his leaflets in English, and later from the French and German versions.
Norway to introduce new regulations on circumcision
(JTA) — Norway will promote new legislation to “regulate ritual circumcision,” the country’s health minister said.
Bent Hoie said the new legislation on non-medical circumcision of boys under 18 will be introduced before April 20, according to a report by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten.
“We will review submissions on the matter before we can decide what should be the government’s position. We aim to present a bill before Easter,” Hoie told Aftenposten last week. He did not say whether the regulations would introduce new restrictions.
His announcement follows renewed calls by Norway Children’s Ombudswoman Anne Lindboe to ban non-medical circumcision of minors without their consent, which she says violates their rights.
“This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky,” Lindboe told Aftenposten.
The Center Party, which won 5.5 percent of the vote in Norway general elections earlier this year, is in favor of banning non-medical circumcision of underage boys. The country’s largest party, Labor, has not yet formulated an official stance but several of its lawmakers support a ban.
Ervin Kohn, president of the Jewish community in Oslo, told JTA that he considers the issue “an existential matter” for the Jewish community of about 700 members.
Each year, approximately 2,000 Muslims and seven Jewish newborns undergo non-medical circumcision in Norway, according to Aftenposten.
In France, meanwhile, President Francois Hollande strongly affirmed his support for the protection of Jewish rights to circumcision in an Oct. 30 letter to the Consistoire, which oversees religious services for the Jewish community.
“There is no question whether this practice in Judaism, and other religions, is performed in accordance with existing laws in France,” he wrote. [... but he is happy to regulate what Muslim women may wear...]
The Jewish Week
On Circumcision, Scalia Surprises
by Gabe Kahn
Longest-serving justice and interlocutors agree on most issues at YU conversation between former classmates.
A hero to many in the Orthodox community on matters relating to the separation of church and state, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments on circumcision at a Yeshiva University forum last Wednesday night may have come as an unpleasant surprise to those who think the justice’s opinions flow from his own religious beliefs.
How would he have ruled, he was asked by attorney Nathan Lewin, had a 2011 attempt to criminalize circumcision in San Francisco succeeded and eventually made its way to the high court?
“If the practice is something that society does not want, and it’s not intended to discriminate against Jews in particular, I think the law is perfectly valid,” he said to a crowd somewhat mystified by how incongruous the remark seemed in the context of Scalia’s other church-state comments.[Not just a practice "that society does not want", infant circumcision flies in the face of international conventions on human and children's rights, and international and national law.]
Scalia and Lewin did not agree on the legality of a ban on circumcision, however. ...
Shuli Karkowski, a graduate of Harvard Law in attendance, said she was impressed by Scalia’s honesty, especially considering that not all of his opinions were popular with the audience.
“Even when I don’t agree with Justice Scalia, I think he takes both a consistent and principled approach,” she said. “I’m surprised that he said how he would rule in the bris case. Most justices are disinclined to speak on any matter that could possibly come before the court.”...
Zimbabwe Buys Into Controversial Israeli Style Circumcision
At at time when government is struggling to provide bath and drink water for women in maternity wards across the country, the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) has embarked on an expensive and controversial Israeli style pilot programme to circumcise young boys a few days after being born under the hope of stopping the spread of HIV AIDS.
This comes as women were being told to bring their own water to bath soon after giving birth as they were informed the hospitals have no money to drill boreholes; a time when the latest statistics reveal that at least 1000 pregnant women die in every 100 000 pregnant women in Zim hospitals because of inadequate money.
The ministry’s program will see over 500 babies between the ages of 10 and 60 days in Harare being circumcised voluntarily at the government’s own expense.[There is no evidence that infant circumcision has any effect on HIV. And of course, no baby ever volunteers for anything.]
The state media reports that the programme is meant to assist Government in determining the best age at which to start conducting male circumcision, which is said to reduce the likelihood of contracting HIV by approximately 60percent albeit amid protest from other independent practitioners that this is untrue.
MoHCC male circumcision co-ordinator Dr Sinokuthemba Xaba said ... “Parents are the ones who are giving us the consent to circumcise their boys using the accucirc method,” he said.
“When phase one of the pilot program was initiated last year in December we set a target of circumcising 150 babies using two methods which were the accucirc and morgan clap [Mogen clamp] methods. [Never mind that the Mogen clamp is no longer made in the USA after the Mogen Company went bankrupt, having lost millions in lawsuits to the families of boys who lost parts of the heads of their penises in Mogen clamps.]
“After reaching the target in May this year, the assessment clearly showed that most parents preferred the accucirc method which is why we have embarked on the second phase of our pilot programme.
“We now want to see the strength and weakness of the most preferred method, parents’ responses to the method, their suggestions and also how nurses can handle the procedure.”
Dr Xaba noted that the results of the programme will determine whether the ministry will continue circumcising newborn babies.
“A complete waste of money”
The move by the ministry comes amid criticism from senior practitioners such as Dr Timothy Stamps who says that the very same studies undertaken on circumcision on which the United Nations body relies upon had on the contrary proven that countries such as the US with a higher number of circumcised men had a high HIV prevalence rate.
“Instead of channelling funds towards circumcision, the money must be used to save pregnant mothers who die in huge numbers in this country,” he said.
“When we are losing 960 mothers for every 100 000 pregnancies, should circumcision be a priority?” Stamps added.
Other investigations have have found that circumcised men actually contracted HIV after going through the surgical procedure.
Is anyone surprised?
The Standard (Zimbabwe)
Circumcised men indulge in risky sexual behaviour
SOME circumcised men are contracting HIV and Aids after ditching the use of condoms, under a misguided belief that male circumcision (MC) would prevent them from getting infected, The Standard has heard.
This revelation comes at a time when the national programme is battling for recognition and relevance as an effective preventive tool for HIV and Aids in the country.
Sex workers who spoke to The Standard last week said some circumcised men were no longer using preventive methods, including condoms, because they believed that their chances of getting infected were limited after getting circumcised.
One of the sex workers, who only identified herself as Memory told a United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) media training workshop in Bulawayo last week, that most of her circumcised clients were not willing to use condoms.
“I have problems with circumcised men because they do not want to use condoms. They always argue that because they have been circumcised they did not need to use condoms,” said the heavily pregnant Memory, who is also HIV-positive.
Memory said even after disclosing her HIV status, they still insisted on sleeping with her without any form of protection.
“I even take my antiretroviral drugs in their presence but they do not care and because I have a family to feed, I give in to their demands,” said Memory.
But Ministry of Health and Child Care national male circumcision coordinator, Sinokuthemba Xaba maintained that the procedure reduced chances of getting infected by at least 60%, but urged men not to stop using condoms.
He defended the programme saying it was a pity that some people were under the misguided opinion that by being circumcised they would not be infected.
[More than a "pity" - it's a total disaster.]
“MC is still an effective tool and circumcisions avert HIV-infection but circumcised men can still get HIV,” Xaba said.
According to the 2010/2011 Zimbabwe Health Demographic Survey (ZDHS), 14% of circumcised men in the country between the ages of 15 and 49 years contracted HIV as compared to those uncircumcised.
[Was this deliberately garbled? What is missing is “..as compared to 12% of those uncircumcised.” A 2005 survey found 16.6% and 14.2%.. In other words, circumcision has conferred no protection whatsoever on the men surveyed.]
Critics have dismissed claims that MC prevents contraction of HIV by at least 60% saying it was “exaggerated”.
Meanwhile, the uptake of the MC remains low with most provinces recording less than 10% uptake.
Mother claims doctor disfigured son after 'botched' circumcision
by Janice Broach
(WMC-TV) - Circumcision for newborn boys is considered one of the most common medical procedures in the world. [No, it is rare except in the USA and Israel. Most circumcision is done later, and most of the world does not circumcise.] But one Memphis mother says her son was mutilated during the common surgery.
Maggie Rhodes' son Ashton was three months old when she had him circumcised at a local low-cost clinic.
"When he was in the room, he was screaming like life and death like, like there wasn't no tomorrow," she said. "When she pulled back the cloth, like the thing was like gone. She cut up instead of down, instead of cutting around the top of the penis."
Rhodes says her son now screams when he urinates. He will need reconstruction work to correct what she considers a botched procedure.
Ob/Gyn Doctor Kent Lee did not perform Ashton's circumcision nor has he ever met Ashton or his mom. Lee says most circumcisions are safe, but he says mistakes do happen.
"I've been doing this for 20 years, and I have never ever seen anybody with everything completely cut off," said Ob/Gyn Dr. Kent Lee. "Actual penectomy is extraordinarily rare." [Unfortunate choice of words.]
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics 1 in 500 newborn boys experience significant acute complications as a result of circumcision. [Even that figure - wherever they got it - means one significant acute complication of circumcision every 3 hours and 40 minutes in the USA.] The procedure typically takes five to 30 minutes.
Rhodes says her son was in surgery for nearly three hours.
"While he was screaming, I asked her, I kept asking was everything OK?" said Rhodes. "She was like uhh, 'I don't know if he's too large to get did inside the clinic, but I am going to do it anyway.' "
Another Ob/Gyn says some people have their child go through the procedure in the hospital.
"Some people do it within the first week or two," said Dr. Charles Ryan.
Ryan says the sooner a newborn receives the procedure the better, but circumcisions can still be done up to three months after birth with no problems.
Rhodes did not have her son circumcised in the hospital because she was unable to be present for the procedure. Also, her son had a cold during his six-week-checkup. The doctor said wait.
"You try to be the best mom you can be, but it's like the attack of the enemies is always there," said Rhodes. "I feel like I failed my son."
Studies suggest circumcision decreases the likelihood of certain diseases and infant urinary tract infections. but medical opinions vary.
The percentage of newborn boys circumcised in the U.S. dropped to 54 percent last year. Rhodes wishes she had not had her son circumcised and wonders what she will tell him when he gets older.
She is devastated. Rhodes' story is far from over as she is currently talking to a lawyer.
"I feel in my heart, I felt like I couldn't do nothing but cry," she said.
Court Forcing Divorcée to Circumcise Son
by Yori Yanover
A rabbinical court in Netanya this week forced a divorced woman to facilitate the performance of a Jewish circumcision for her son, Behadrei Haredim reported.
During the divorce process, which Israeli Jews contest in rabbinical court, the husband requested that the regional rabbinical court in Netanya, about 20 miles north of Tel Aviv, to compel his wife to give their son a legal circumcision. The court accepted his request.
The woman argued that the rabbinical court does not have jurisdiction over her son, and may not decide on what constitutes a dangerous medical procedure for him, especially since the boy is not a party to the divorce procedure. She argued that the authority to decide on this matter belongs exclusively in family court.
But the rabbinical judges, Rabbis Michael Amos, Sheur Pardes and Ariel Yanai, rejected the woman’s argument and determined that when a couple is in a dispute over the treatment of their son, the dispute may be resolve either in family or in rabbinical court. “The circumcision,” wrote the judges, “is a simple surgery which is conducted on every Jewish baby eight days or older, around the world, for thousands of years. Therefore, when one of the parents demands it, the other party may not prevent it unless a medical danger can be proven.”
The judges added: “The minor’s entire educational construct depends on the performance of the Brit Milah-circumcision; therefore the mother’s claim that the circumcision is unrelated the child’s guardianship and education is refuted and rejected. “The circumcision is the sign, the mark, the distinguishing detail of the Jewish identity of every Jew wherever he may be, and whatever his spiritual state. An uncircumcised Jew’s Jewish identity is incomplete and defective.”
Therefore, the mother’s request was rejected and the court ordered her to have the circumcision be performed within seven days, or suffer a financial penalty.
Another study finds no link
Brown Daily Herald
Link between HIV and HPV risk confirmed in men
by Phoebe Draper
While the link between human papillomavirus infection and human immunodeficiency virus has been studied in females in the past, a new study by University researchers in the Department of Epidemiology has found this link in males as well.
Examining data on 2,519 circumcised and uncircumcised men, researchers found HPV infection was associated with increased risk of HIV infection in males. Men who had recently had an HPV infection, or had persistent HPV infection, were at higher risk of HIV. Circumcision status was not found to have an effect.
The findings suggest that HPV should be an integral component of future HIV prevention measures, highlighting the need for future research into the specific mechanism by which HPV augments HIV risk, according to the study’s abstract.
Early pain changes the brain
A new study has found that rats subjected to pain soon after birth undergo changes in their brains.
This may permanently alter their reaction to stress and pain in adulthood, Dr Anne Murphy of Georgia State University has found
Senate Committe: "Avoid unnecessary surgery on children"
An Australian Senate Committee has recommended that medical interventions on intersexed children should wherever possible wait until the person themself can give their informed consent.
The Community Affairs References Committee report on "Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of intersex people in Australia" has accepted many of the submissions of Organisation Intersex International (OII) Australia.
It recommends the terms "intersex" or "differences of sexual development" rather than "disorders of sexual development".
The committee recommends that all medical treatment of intersex people take place under guidelines that ensure treatment is managed by multidisciplinary teams within a human rights framework. The guidelines should favour deferral of normalising treatment until the person can give fully informed consent, and seek to minimise surgical intervention on infants undertaken for primarily psychosocial reasons.
Medical intervention should be deferred wherever possible until the patient is able to freely give full and informed consent; this is known as “Gillick competence”.
OII says the report raises major concerns about medical ethics and the human rights of intersex people in Australia.
"The committee acknowledges that surgeries intend to erase intersex traits from individuals and society, yet the underlying preconceptions are disturbing, and no research has been done to evaluate the benefits of alternatives," OII Australia president Morgan Carpenter said.
MKs [Members of the Knesset] to traverse Europe to combat anti-circumcision proposals
by Lahav Harkov
MKs plan to travel through Europe in the coming weeks to battle anti-circumcision legislation.
On Wednesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein called in 15 MKs who head caucuses for relations with different European countries to discuss how to fight a resolution that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed earlier this month.
The resolution called male ritual circumcision “a violation of the physical integrity of children,” and said states should protect children “against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards.”[And their rebuttal of these almost self-evident facts is...?]
At the meeting, Knesset diplomatic adviser Oded Ben-Hur recommended that the MKs visit European countries and ask their counterparts to sign a new draft resolution written by Israel that would reverse the PACE decision.
In addition, the MKs will check whether there are bills on the dockets of parliaments in Europe that are meant to outlaw circumcision, and work to block them by explaining the importance the ritual has for Jews and Muslims.
“This is a battle that unites religions. [Only religions that want to cut children's genitals...] The PACE decision is scandalous and can set Europe on fire,” Edelstein warned.
The Knesset speaker said that at that moment a European MP could be trying to pass the resolution as law in his or her country, and the MKs must do all they can to stop it.
MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said that although he did not usually travel with Knesset delegations, he would join this battle.
“I can’t imagine that circumcision will become illegal,” Tibi stated. “We [Jews and Muslims] have a joint interest of the first order, an interest that is supreme and moral. [!] We must fight together.”
R3m claim for six 'botched' circumcisions
by Amanda Khoza
Durban - The parents of six boys from Dassenhoek who were allegedly circumcised without consent are suing New Start clinic for R3 million [$US 305,000] in damages.
The clinic, which is managed by Society for Family Health and Thatenda Health Care, is a partnership with the Department of Health. It runs six male circumcision centres in KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
In May, the Sunday Tribune reported that parents of 19 boys, aged 11 to 19, from Dassenhoek, near Mariannhill, laid charges against New Start over circumcisions.
Some of the boys experienced post-operative complications, swelling or bleeding of the penis or infected wounds. A case of assault with grievous bodily harm was opened....
The boys were picked up in groups by a man in a vehicle bearing the New Start logo from April to May.
Busisiwe Ntiga, 29, was at work when her 11-year-son was circumcised. She alleges the KZN Department of Health offered them money for their silence.
“One official told us we can be paid before the matter goes any further. They tried to silence us with money but we refused,” said Ntiga.
The KZN Department of Health has failed to respond.
Attorney Naheem Rehman, for the parents, said: “In terms of the Children’s Act, consent is required by a health practitioner before undertaking any procedure. Circumcision of children under the age of 16 is strictly prohibited unless it is done for medical or religious purposes. Any one who contravenes this law faces a 10-year jail sentence or will be fined.”
He said the Society for Family Health had until this week to respond to the letter of demand or summons would be issued.
Director of the society’s South African branch, Scott Billy, said the organisation had not received the letter and they were not aware of the claim.
However, the Sunday Tribune has seen a copy of a registered letter signed on behalf of New Start clinic acknowledging the letter of demand...
The July edition of the KZN Health Bulletin boasted more than 239 000 KZN men had been successfully circumcised since 2010, with not a single death or botched procedure – even though the Sunday Tribune highlighted the case of the Dassenhoek boys....
Meanwhile, Wentzell Ngidi, 26, the fast food employee from Umlazi whose entire skin was removed from his penis during a botched circumcision on September 21, is recovering at St Aidan’s Hospital and awaiting plastic surgery.
“I am still in a lot of pain,” said Ngidi this week....
Important intactivist news during September
September 10 - October 16 2013
Circumstitions news was suspended. Several important events took place during that time:
Japan withdraw circumcision funds
by Onalenna Kelebeile
SELEBI-PHIKWE: A Japanese company JHPEGO, has withdrawn funding for Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) because the country failed to meet the target of 40 males per day. The programme known as SMC/MOVE was a national strategy that started in October 2012 and was supposed to go on for five years. The withdrawal of funding means that the programme stops less than a year after it started. Delivering the Urban Development Committee report recently Selebi-Phikwe District Officer Orishiwa Sitekia said the SMC/MOVE programme stopped due to lack of funds and the team halted work on August 15.
"Funds for this national strategy were withdrawn due to the programme failing to meet the set target of circumcising 40 males a day. "Only 10 males on average were circumcised in a day," she said.
Sitekia said SMC would continue to be done in local health facilities by the district health management teams.She said the SMC/MOVE under the Japanese company had a higher rollout than in the local health facilities Meanwhile, the urban development report shows that there was an insufficient supply of food in the local primary schools during the first quarter of 2013/14 financial year.
US STOPS FUNDING CIRCUMCISION PROGRAMME.
The United States government through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) has stopped funding Botswana’s Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) programme. Addressing residents of Khuduyamajako in Letlhakeng East recently, the Assistant Minister of Health, the Honourable Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri, said this was due to the unwillingness of men to be circumcised. He pointed out that government planned to have circumcised thousands of men by the end of this year and was concerned about the low turnout they had experienced since the inception of the programme.
“At least during the school vacation, almost 4 000 school going boys were circumcised,” he noted. On other issues, the honourable Matlhabaphiri expressed concern about the growing number of defaulters enrolled on the ARV programme. He was also worried that such patients did not follow doctor’s instructions on how to take their medication....
The Jewish Press
Concern: Some Iranian Jews Improperly Circumcised
by Yori Yanover
According to the website Ladaat, there is a concern that Iranian Jews who were circumcised in the city of Shiraz may not be properly circumcised according to Halacha, and may need to undergo a corrective procedure.
This alarming revelation is based on testimony by one Shiraz-born Jewish man, who is 56 today and goes by the name of Motti. In a get-together marking the month of Elul—a time of contemplation and repentance—which included Rabbi Yaron Amit of the Brit Yosef Yitzchak organization, the rabbi shared that there is a growing phenomenon of adult, observant Jews whose circumcision was not done in keeping with Jewish Law.
It turns out that there exists a less invasive method of circumcision, which does not fully remove the foreskin, and so, according to the law, despite the pain the subject of circumcision endures in the process, in the end he is not considered to be circumcised.
Motti, for reasons he does not share in the video, decided to go and be checked by Brit Yosef Yitzchak, and, just as he had suspected, his brit milah required some corrective surgery, which was performed on the spot.
Motti was circumcised at the age of 8 days, like every newborn Jewish baby, but the mohel-ritual circumciser did not finish the job.
According to the website, there has been a similar phenomenon in northern Israel a while back, and some children also required corrective surgery to complete their circumcision.
In Motti’s case the suspects are a father and son team of mohels who worked for years in Shiraz. If this is true, and Motti’s botched circumcision was not the exception, but merely one sample of the Shiraz “style” of circumcision, it could mean that a large number of men in their fifties and sixties from that city may require an examination.["botched"? On the contrary.]
This is why Motti has gone to the trouble of shooting a video—in Hebrew—to alert his former neighbors to the possibility of the need for a recall.
This reporter inquired with immigrants from Iran, and it appears that the general impression of the Shiraz community is that it is more machmir-stringentin than many in their religious practice, and so the problem with the brit could not have stemmed from rejection of the custom.
How to make a disesease - and a "cure"
by Hugh Young
A forthcoming diagnostic code proposes to make a normal baby's foreskin a "disorder" and its treatment - circumcision - billable.
When a boy is born, his foreskin has usually not separated from his glans (head), and it commonly takes several years to separate, sometimes not until puberty.
This seems to be an attempt to implement (by stealth?) the AAP Task Force on Circumcision's recommendation that non-therapeutic infant circumcision should regain Medicaid coverage, to stem the decline in unnecessary circumcisions.
Southern Poverty Law Center
Federal court says sex-assignment surgery on child could violate U.S. Constitution, refuses to dismiss case
For the first time, a federal court has concluded that a medically unnecessary sex-assignment surgery on a child with an intersex condition could be a violation of the Constitution. This marks an important step forward in seeking justice for “M.C.,” a young man who was needlessly subjected to the procedure as an infant in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services.
U.S. District Judge David C. Norton of the South Carolina Charleston Division denied a motion by the defendants to dismiss the case, ruling from the bench following oral arguments late yesterday.
"We applaud the court's decision and we are pleased that the court will have the opportunity to consider the deeply important constitutional issues at stake,” said Alesdair Ittelson, staff attorney for the SPLC. “By removing M.C.'s healthy body parts and trying to make him a girl absent any pressing reason, defendants violated M.C.'s constitutional rights. We look forward to the chance to make our case at trial and bring justice to M.C. and children like him."
M.C. was born with an intersex condition – a difference in reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female. When he was just 16 months old and in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, doctors and department officials decided the child should undergo sex assignment surgery to make M.C. a girl.
The defendants made this decision even though there was no way of knowing, at such an early age, whether M.C. would grow up to be a male or female. Defendants did not even provide a hearing to determine whether the procedure was in M.C.'s best interests. M.C. has since grown into a healthy 8-year-old boy, although he will never get back the phallus and testicle that were removed.
The SPLC and co-counsel, Advocates for Informed Choice and the private firms Janet, Jenner & Suggs LLC and Steptoe & Johnson LLP, filed lawsuits in both state and federal courts in May.
Babies' herpes linked to circumcision practice
Two more infants have contracted the herpes virus after undergoing an ultra-Orthodoz Jewish type of circumcision, which has been linked to the spread of the potentially deadly virus to newborn boys, according to CNN.
The site reports the health department says the procedure is dangerous because the contact with the mouth could transmit diseases such as herpes.
“While HSV-1 in adults can cause the common cold sore, HSV-1 infection in newborns is very serious,” a department statement says.
New York Times
Circumcision Rates in U.S. Drop Drastically in Western States
by Hope Reeves
¶ The percentage of male newborns who are circumcised in United States hospitals has dropped drastically. Over a 32-year period, the number of male newborns circumcised in the hospital decreased nationally to 58.3 percent in 2010 from 64.5 percent in 1979, according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
¶ But while that 10 percent decrease over all is statistically significant, the authors of the report say, what leaps out of the data is a 37 percent drop in the West. In that 13-state part of the country, the rate of newborns receiving routine circumcisions at birth fell to 40.2 percent in 2010, by far the lowest rate in the country, from 63.9 percent in 1979. That decline accounts for virtually all of the shift nationwide.
¶ In the Northeast the overall trend was flat across the 32 years, with a high of 69.6 percent in 1994 and a low of 60.7 percent in 2007. Rates in the Midwest had dropped 3.3 percentage points over the period studied, with a high of 82.9 percent in 1998 and a low of 68.8 percent in 2009. The South’s rate increased 2.6 percentage points and ranged between 66.1 percent in 1995 and 53.8 percent in 1988.
¶ The authors cannot explain why the numbers dropped so precipitously in the West, which comprises Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, because the analysis did not factor in contextual data. (These figures do not represent circumcisions performed outside of the hospital setting — e.g., ritual circumcisions — or any following discharge from the birth hospitalization.)
¶ “That question is beyond the scope of this report,” Maria Owings, the lead author, said.
¶ But it remains an intriguing question. Why would that part of the country differ so much from the rest? Have parents there developed a new attitude toward circumcision and, if so, why?
[What needs to be explained is not why the rate has fallen in the West, but why it has failed to fall in the rest of the country.]
¶ The high-profile 2010-11 attempt to get a bill criminalizing the procedure on a San Francisco ballot might have provided an opportunity for opponents of the procedure to reach parents. The initiative — called the Prohibition of Genital Cutting of Male Minors — was ultimately quashed, but it did get 12,000 supporting signatures.
¶ “San Francisco is a bastion for new thinking and individual rights, which draws many people to the region; however, the entire West Coast — Washington, Oregon — also have very low infant circumcision rates,” said Lloyd Schofield, the leader of the San Francisco movement. “Certainly much of this comes from basic awareness and less insistence on the procedure from the medical industry.”
¶ Mr. Schofield said that “a huge driver of the decline” was the nonpayment for the procedure by private insurers, “but in particular coverage was removed from Medicaid here decades ago.”
¶ “When the money is gone,” he said, “it no longer serves a purpose … funny thing about that!”
¶ Marc Stern, a lawyer for the American Jewish Committee who worked against the initiative, suggested that, among other things, the larger population of immigrants from countries that do not routinely circumcise could account for the low rates in the West. “Different cultures in Asia and the Americas and different attitudes towards circumcision may help explain the West’s differential,” he said.
¶ Douglas Diekema, a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ task force on circumcision and a professor of pediatrics at Seattle Children’s Hospital, echoed Mr. Stern’s theory that the difference in circumcision rates could be a result of demographics, but he had another theory, too.
¶ “The West Coast has more immigrants from populations that don’t circumcise as commonly as we do in the U.S.,” he said. “The Hispanic culture is one of those, and since the West and Southwest are taking on” more Hispanics, one could assume there would be a drop.
¶ At the same time, Dr. Diekema said, West Coast residents tend to be more progressive.
¶“Ever since the founding of this country, the West Coast has attracted people who walk to the beat of their own drummer,” he said. “People here are more likely to question the standard and go a different way.”
New York Times
U.S. Circumcision Rates Are Declining
by Nicholas Bakalar
The percentage of newborns who are circumcised in the United States declined to 58.3 percent in 2010 from 64.5 percent in 1979, according to a new analysis from the National Center for Health Statistics. The report is based on annual surveys of about 450 hospitals nationwide.
But rates varied over the period. They went down during the 1980s after a task force of the American Academy of Pediatrics found that there were no medical benefits to the procedure, then rose during the ’90s after the medical group revised its position, claiming there were potential benefits. In 1999, the A.A.P. changed its view again, stating that despite potential benefits, there was insufficient evidence to recommend routine circumcision. That announcement was followed by another slight decrease.
There are regional variations as well. In 2010, about 71 percent of babies in the Midwest were circumcised, 66.3 percent in the Northeast, 58.4 percent in the South, and 40.2 percent in the West.
The lead author of the report, Maria Owings, a health statistician with the center, emphasized that the report includes no explanation for the numbers. “We didn’t factor in any other contextual information that would shed light on the reasons for the regional variations or the variations over time,” she said. And, she added, “The N.C.H.S. doesn’t take an advocacy position.”
Perth Now (Australia)
Botched circumcisions on the rise
by Kaitlyn Offer
MORE Perth men are seeking legal advice for botched cosmetic circumcisions, according to one Perth law firm.
Medical law specialist Karina Hafford from Slater and Gordon said so far this year about six men, almost one a month, had come to her for legal advice over male circumcisions gone wrong.
The lawyer of 15 years said it was worrying to see the men looking for help as she had never had an inquiry over male circumcision before. [Perhaps men are becoming more critical as the issue is raised on the Internet.]
“I had never seen these types of issues until this year when I've had a handful of inquiries in as many months,” Ms Hafford said.
She said the jump in inquiries was particularly related to overseas, cosmetic procedures, done in Europe and Asia.
“My advice would be to avoid overseas surgeries – many country’s health industries are not regulated as carefully as Australia,” Ms Hafford said.
“We’ve all seen horror stories in the media about ‘cosmetic tourism’ gone wrong.”
Ms Hafford said there were several reasons why a man might opt for a cosmetic circumcision.
“Men may choose this surgery for health reasons, such as infected piercings, bladder problems, cosmetic appearance, religious reasons, or to fix their original procedure as a child,” Ms Hafford said.
“No matter what the reason, it can be a very complex and emotive health issue for men and they need to be careful when they choose their surgeon.”
WA Department of Health chief medical officer Gary Geelhoed said he was not aware of a rise in the number of cosmetic circumcision procedures being done and it was not performed in the WA public health system except for medical reasons.
“Male circumcision is not generally recommended,” he said.
“Although it is a minor operation, like any surgery it has risks including infection.”
Ms Hafford said men should carefully check their surgeon's credentials and history of investigations or complaints before going ahead with a circumcision.
IoL News (Soth Africa)
Child dies after circumcision at hospital
by Vuyo Mkize
Johannesburg - “They killed my child.” These were the pained words of a Germiston father whose son had to be taken off life support on Wednesday evening after he was declared brain dead by two surgeons following a medical circumcision operation a week ago.
Reggie Mokalapa, 39, took his four-year-old son, Gugulethu, to Medicross Germiston for what doctors had assured him would be a “less than two-hour” procedure last Tuesday.
... Mokalapa went to wait outside in their car and, minutes later, his wife Wilhemina joined him.
... An hour later, Wilhemina asked the sister on duty to wake their son as Mokalapa needed to get to work.
“It was at that point they realised he wasn’t breathing,” Mokalapa said.
“His heart had stopped.
“It took them a while to resuscitate him, around 10 to 15 minutes, but eventually his heart started beating again.”
Gugulethu was then transferred to Netcare Sunward Park Hospital, where the attending doctor expressed extreme concern over his condition.
... doctors needed to cool Gugulethu’s body so that if there was any injury to the brain, it did not spread further.
“They did that over four days, and on the fourth day, they started warming him up.... On Sunday, monitors showed that Gugulethu’s brain was not responding, and on Monday he was declared brain dead.
On Wednesday, a second doctor confirmed that Gugulethu was brain dead and the family elected for doctors to take him off life support.
“We are always advised to circumcise our children young, and we did this so that he’d be okay in future. Unfortunately, we took him to a slaughterhouse,” said Mokalapa.
He added that all he wanted from Medicross was acknowledgement of what they did wrong.... Medicross director Dr Oelie van Schalkwyk on Thursday said the doctors and staff at the Germiston centre were “devastated” by what happened to Gugulethu.
“Gugulethu was admitted to Netcare Garden City Hospital after complications following his procedure, and everything humanly possible had been done by the doctors and nurses at Germiston medical centre to assist him.
“We are unable to speculate on the possible factors which may have contributed until it has been fully investigated and conclusively established precisely what transpired.
When just getting circumcised isn't enough....
Standard Digital News
Why Turkana residents cross fingers when August sets in
by Lucas Ng'asike
Turkana, Kenya: August is a dreaded month among many fishermen in Turkana. They fear venturing into Lake Turkana, which is one of the world’s rarest desert lake, and is home to nutritious and abundant fish stocks.
But inside the lake, especially in August, death lurks, thanks to foreign militia from neighbouring Ethiopia.
The militia group from Merille community in Ethiopia raids fishermen mostly in August.
During the month, newly circumcised Merille youth are required to kill people from an ‘enemy community’ and bring back their private parts as a sign of heroism.
Both Merille and Turkana live on the border of their two countries. They have staged attacks against each other for years with the worst one being in 2011, which left over 60 Turkana men, women and children dead.
Turkana North OCPD Bernard Nyakwaka said during the 2011 massacre, they recovered bodies that had missing private parts.
“Men are targeted most for mutilation of their private parts and this happens in attacks in August,” he told The Standard.
During the attacks, many locals have been abducted and killed and their bodies are hardly recovered.
Old way of life
“They congregate around River Omo (in Ethiopia) where they are circumcised and conditions set before they graduate to become men,” he said.
Yarakal, who refused to be photographed for this story, said the Merille are still steeped in tradition and old way of life.
“One of the mandatory requirement is that they go out and kill their ‘enemies’ and bring back their private parts,” he said. Yarakal also said the new initiates are required to steal from their victims by raiding villages for livestock.
“They arm themselves to the teeth and plan before staging a surprise attack on land or in the lake,” he revealed.
Yarakal said abducting the ‘enemy’ is a plus for the youth but when time does not allow, they kill and leave the bodies but chop off private parts and disappear with them.
On August 1, the Merille militia struck, abducting four Turkana fishermen, who are now feared dead. ...
The over 60 Turkana locals were killed after they were tricked into crossing to Ethiopia to get food following drought on the Kenyan side. ...
An Ethiopian source said militiamen who kill are asked to choose beautiful girls to marry.
They get the girls after showing private parts of those they killed. Turkana leaders have condemned the long-standing assault by the militia and are now calling on the international community to intervene.
The leaders, among them Turkana Senator John Munyes and Turkana North MP Christopher Nakuleu described the killings as illegal human sacrifices.
“They are not only barbaric acts but are gross human rights violations by the militia group, which must be held accountable,” said Munyes.
To earlier news (headlines)
Back to the Intactivism index page.