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News items are copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)

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IsraelandStuff.com
June 30, 2014

High Court relieved rabbinical courts of it's authority over circumcision decisions

Israel’s High Court decided that family courts will decide whether a baby gets a circumcision when divorcing parents disagree on the issue, and not the rabbinical court that’s dealing with the divorce.

by Yonah Jeremy Bob

In a dramatic decision on religion and democracy, the High Court of Justice on Sunday took away authority from the rabbinical court system over whether a divorcing couple had to circumcise their son.

The vote to move the issue into the family court system was 6-1 with Deputy Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, Justices Salim Jabraun, Esther Hayot, Hanan Meltzer, Yoram Danziger and Neal Hendel voting in the majority against Justice Elyakim Rubsinstein voting in the minority.

In March, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein told the High Court of Justice that the family courts, not the rabbinical courts, should decide whether a baby gets a circumcision when divorcing parents disagree on the issue.

He explained that the issue of circumcision did not fall under the heading of “divorce issues” in the rabbinical courts’ jurisdiction, since it was not directly related to severing relations between a couple – the legal test for that jurisdiction. Weinstein added that the family court certainly could, and in some cases likely would, order a circumcision if it found it to be in the best interests of the child.

The court’s majority ultimately accepted those arguments.

Rubinstein agreed that the rabbinical courts had mishandled the issue and disregarded a full analysis of what was in the child’s best interests, but preferred to send the case back to the rabbinical courts for a second evaluation.

On February 26, a seven-justice panel of the High Court heard the dispute in which the Rabbinical High Court had ordered the mother of a one-year-old boy to circumcise her son in keeping with the wishes of the boy’s father. At the end of the hearing, the High Court requested Weinstein’s opinion on the broader issue of whether family courts or rabbinical courts should rule on this issue.

Weinstein had already written the High Court on February 11, saying the rabbinical courts had exceeded their authority by intervening on the circumcision issue, noting that anesthesia and a special surgical procedure would be required, removing the issue from the rabbinical courts’ authority.

Weinstein reiterated this position in his response to the High Court’s question about what the general rule should be if no special medical issues were involved.

The mother and father are in divorce proceedings before the Netanya Rabbinical Court, which intervened in the parents’ dispute over whether to circumcise their son, ruling that it was in the boy’s best interests to be circumcised. That court even fined the mother NIS 500 per day until she had her son circumcised.

The Rabbinical High Court confirmed the Netanya Rabbinical Court’s order.

The identity of all the family members is under a court-ordered gag order.

Following the initial court order, the mother petitioned through the Justice Ministry’s Legal Assistance Division to the High Court of Justice on December 18, 2013, to intervene on the grounds that the Netanya Rabbinical Court did not have authority over whether parents circumcise their children.

Justice Yoram Danziger froze the rabbinical court’s ruling the same day the petition was filed.

In its February 26 order The High Court said it was focusing on three questions: does any judicial body have authority to intervene on the issue, do the rabbinical courts specifically have authority and if the rabbinical courts have some degree of authority, is there a basis for the High Court to give the rabbinical courts directives in using that authority?

The mother’s lawyer, Avigdor Feldman, told the High Court she opposed the practice of circumcision and rejected the rabbinical courts’ claim of authority based on the best interests of the boy. Feldman said the rabbinical courts’ claim was based on an incorrect interpretation that circumcision was in the boy’s best interests. Rather, he said, there was no medical necessity, and the issue was merely an ideological dispute between the parents. Feldman added that the question of circumcision was between an individual and God, and beyond any human court’s right to interfere.

The justices’ questions varied widely during the hearing, with some appearing to agree that stepping into this issue could lead to family courts ruling whether children must eat matza on Passover. Others implied that failing to intervene and order the child’s circumcision now could hurt him socially later in life.

Lawyer Shimon Yakobi, representing the rabbinical courts, said it was crucial to uphold their authority in recognizing them as equal and valid courts within the judicial system.

Following the hearing, the mother said, “Social pressure is no reason to force cutting my son’s body as nature, the universe naturally created him.”

All of the parties involved now have seven days to respond to Weinstein’s position before the court reconvenes on the issue.

Earlier story

 

The Obsever (Uganda)
June 27, 2014

Gulu wives reject circumcised men

by Zurah Nakabugo

Vincent Okello, 27, was one of the many men who turned up for circumcision in northern Uganda in recent months.

Yet despite his interest in the exercise, Okello is concerned about the reaction of his wife once he returns home.

This is because of reports that some women in the north have rejected their circumcised men, accusing them of having become sexually weaker after undergoing the operation that experts say helps reduce the chances of contracting the deadly HIV/Aids virus.

“I came here for circumcision after hearing messages from the media about the benefits of circumcision; that it protects us from acquiring HIV/Aids and other infections like Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs,” Okello said. “However, my concern is about my wife who is likely to abandon me after circumcision following misconceptions from the public that I will become sexually less powerful.”

Okello told The Observer at Gulu hospital, that some of his colleagues who were circumcised before had already been abandoned by their wives. However, according to Roselyn Oyella, the safe male circumcision counsellor at Gulu hospital, such perceptions are false.

“If you have been impotent you remain impotent. If you have been sexually active, there won’t be any change after circumcision,” Oyella said.

Virility is not the only reason why circumcision is causing conflict in families, according to Stuart Ochora, 25, a resident of Layibi village in Gulu Municipality. It is said that the practice contradicts local cultural norms and many locals think it is meant to convert people to Islam.

Medical personnel such as Dr Leonard Were, the voluntarily medical male circumcision (VMMC) officer, attribute the lopsided perceptions to lack of or limited sensitisation of people, especially women, about the importance of circumcision in the fight against HIV/Aids.

“Because of removing the foreskin of the penis, the virus has lesser area [through which] to enter the man during sexual intercourse,” Dr Were said. [If that's the reason, cutting the whole thing off will be 100% effective.]

Dr Were, who is also the programme officer of the Northern Uganda Health Integration to Enhance Services (NU-HITES) project, says for the last one-and-a-half years, 74,000 men have been circumcised in northern Uganda by NU-HITES project alone. However, he fears that due to cultural beliefs and lack of sensitisation about its importance, they might fail to meet their target of circumcising 100,000 males every year.

The RDC of Gulu, Catherine Lamwaka, said the low number of males circumcised would eventually become a social and economic burden to government.

“We are fighting hard to sensitise people in the region about the importance of circumcision,” Lamwaka said.

At 8.3 per cent, northern Uganda has the second highest HIV/Aids prevalence rate, after the central region.

 

Harare24 (Zimbabwe)
June 26, 2014

Men shun circumcision as foreskins are 'used for ritual purposes'

Hwange men are reportedly shunning going for voluntary male circumcision amongst wide spread rumours in the District that the foreskins are being used for ritual purposes.

Rumours are spreading like a bush fire in the Matabeleland North District that some unscrupulous elements within the Ministry of Health centres doing the circumcision are selling the foreskins to nyangas for use in varied sex related traditional medicines and rituals.

According to sources within the health centres the nursing staff performing the medical procedure are not disposing off the fore skins as stipulated but collecting them and selling them to traditional healers from as far afield as Binga and across the Zambezi in Zambia. The foreskins are reportedly selling for as much as $50 per "piece". The nursing personnel are reported to be making a killing as more men are hidding to the calls by the Ministry for men to come forward for free circumcision.

Recent medical tests have revealed that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission considerably resulting in a lot of men responding resoundingly to the call for circumcision. [Not so.] The Ministry of Health has unveiled a programme in all the districts of the country where men have free circumscision.

Speaking to Bulawayo 24, several men from Hwange confirmed that they are no longer eager to do the operation as the rumours of the ritual use of their foreskins spread. Some men claim that what even makes them sceptical of the whole exercise is that the medical personnel at the health centre refuse to give the men their foreskins for personal disposal.

"Am not going to donate my flesh for ritual purposes and not get anything for it am sorry," said one Clifford Kumwenda.

In a separate interview a herbalist from Nguminja Township of Hwange town confirmed that the men's foreskins are used for ulunyoka an African herb used against a promiscuous partner.

"The foreskin is used for lunyoka on a married woman who sleeps with another man," she said.

"The herbal mix works in various ways the worst being sticking the two immoral partners together until the husband of the wife is compensated heavily."

Another Sangoma claimed that the foreskin is used to make a concoction which is consumed by men to enhance their performance in bed. She also claimed that "women of the night" use a dried and treated foreskin to rub on their private parts to attract customers.

"The male foreskin is in huge demand for sexual enhancement for both men and women and traditional healers are prepared to pay any amount for them as they also fetch handsomely on muti prepared using it," claimed the Sangoma.

In another revelation, the Sangoma claimed that the foreskin is also used to make muti for livestock to reproduce more. According to the sangoma the muti is administered on both the male and the female animal to enhance their sexual cycle.

"If administered on animals the muti increases the animals' sex drive to that of human beings and so get involved continuously there by giving them more reproduction."

A ministry of health official at Lukosi Hospital dismissed claims that health officers at the centre were selling the foreskins to traditional healers referring reporters to the Ministry of Health Officials at the District Medical Officer's Office for an official statement.

 

AP via CTV News (Canada)
June 26, 2014

Botched circumcision rituals in South Africa kill 11 young men

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The South African government says 11 young men have died so far this year in botched circumcision rituals that have killed hundreds in past years.

The government said in a statement Thursday that seven of the deaths in the current initiation season happened in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

The ministry is urging traditional leaders to work with state medical experts to prevent deaths, some of which are due to dehydration and septic shock. It also says owners of illegal initiation schools should be arrested and prosecuted.

The circumcision ceremonies are meant to usher youths into manhood. Initiations are mostly practiced by the Xhosa tribe in eastern South Africa.

 

City Press (South Africa)
June 24, 2014

486 die as greedy traditional surgeons run initiate schools 'like spaza shops'

[A spaza shop is an informal convenience shop business in South Africa, usually run from home. They also serve the purpose of supplementing household incomes of the owners, selling everyday small household items.]

by Zinhle Mapumulo

Close to 490 boys have died in initiation schools in three provinces in the past six years and a further 455 628 were hospitalised because of circumcision-related complications, an investigation has revealed.

These findings are contained in a report, released by the Commission for the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities in Joburg today.

The report, titled Public Hearings on Initiation Schools in SA shows that boys as young as 12 died of dehydration, septicaemia, gangrene, kidney failure and assault during initiation.

The investigation focused on three provinces – the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga and Limpopo – where traditional circumcision is an important cultural practice.

The Eastern Cape had the highest number of deaths between 2008 and 2013 – at 401. Mpumalanga followed, with 67 deaths and Limpopo recorded 18 deaths.

Many of the deaths recorded in the Eastern Cape happened in 2009 (91) and last year, when 83 boys died. Mpumalanga also saw a spike during the same years. In 2009, the province recorded 15 deaths and last year the figure shot up to 42.

Commission chairperson Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said the probe revealed a number of factors that led to the increase in the number of initiate deaths, but the biggest was the commercialisation of the practice by bogus surgeons.

“Many of the illegal [traditional] surgeons are not trained and have no idea what they are doing,” she said.

“All they care about is money. To them, the practice is like running a spaza shop. They mushroom during the circumcision seasons, make money and go underground after that.”

...

 

One more small step for males....

Foreningen af Danske Lægestuderende
24. Juni 2014

Udmelding om rituel omskæring af drengebørn

Ved rituel drengeomskæring fjernes sundt og funktionelt væv fra et umyndigt, raskt barn, og spørgsmålet om rituel drengeomskæring er derfor i sit udgangspunkt ikke et sundhedsspørgsmål. Spørgsmålet om, hvorvidt rituel drengeomskæring skal være lovligt eller ej, bliver i stedet et etisk spørgsmål og et spørgsmål om rettigheder. Derfor må læger og lægestuderende på lige fod med alle andre mennesker i samfundet tage stilling til, om det enkelte menneskes frihed til at være herre over egen krop skal vægtes højere end religiøse og kulturelle traditioner eller ej.

FADL mener, at det enkelte individ har ret til selv at tage beslutning om rituel omskæring, og at retten til en intakt krop bør være uafhængig af individets køn. Da piger allerede er sikret lovmæssig beskyttelse mod rituel omskæring i Danmark, bør drenge også sikres samme rettigheder.

FADL ønsker med denne resolution at udtrykke respekt for børns - både pigers og drenges - konventionssikrede ret til beskyttelse af deres kropslige integritet. Og vil appellere til, at læger og andre sundhedsprofessionelle tager aktivt stilling til, om man vil respektere børns og dermed også drenges konventionssikrede ret til en intakt krop ved at benytte sig af deres ret til at sige nej til at udføre rituel omskæring af drengebørn.

FADL vil gerne understrege, at vores holdning til rituel drengeomskæring hverken bunder i antisemitisme eller islamofobi. Mænd, der har nået myndighedsalderen, kan selv vælge at blive omskåret af religiøse eller kulturelle grunde, såfremt de måtte ønske dette.

FADLs holdning handler ikke om omskæring eller ej. Vores holdning er, at hvert enkelt individ selv skal have valget.

- Kasper Gasbjerg, Formand for Foreningen af Danske Lægestuderende

Association of Danish Medical Students
(Bing translation, edited) June 24, 2014

Announcement about the ritual circumcision of baby boys

Ritual boys' circumcision removes healthy and functional tissue from a umyndigt, healthy child, and the question of ritual boys circumcision is therefore in its starting point not a health issue. The question of whether ritual boys circumcision should be legal or not, will be instead an ethical issue and a question of rights. Therefore, doctors and medical students on an equal footing with all other people in the community take a stand on whether the individual freedom to be master of own body are weighted higher than religious and cultural traditions or not.

FADL believes that individuals have the right to take the decision about the ritual circumcision, and that the right to an intact body should be independent of the individual's gender. As girls already are guaranteed legal protection against ritual circumcision in Denmark, boys should be ensured the same rights.

FADL would with this resolution to express respect for children 's - both girls and boys - Convention secured the right to the protection of their physical integrity. And will appeal to physicians and other healthcare professionals actively take a stand on whether we wish to respect children's and thus also secured the right to an intact boys Convention body by taking advantage of their right to say ' no ' to perform the ritual circumcision of baby boys.

FADL would like to stress that our approach to ritual boys circumcision is rooted in neither anti-Semitism nor Islamophobia. Men who have reached the age of majority, may even choose to be circumcised for religious or cultural reasons, if they wish to do this.

FADL's position is not about circumcision or not. Our position is that each individual should have the choice.

- Kasper Gasbjerg, President of the Danish Association of medical students

 

Ceylon Today (Sri Lanka)
June 22, 2014

Abductors forcibly circumcise Vijitha Thera

by Menaka Indrakumar

The abductors had circumcised Venerable Watareka Vijitha Thera, who is presently undergoing treatment at the Colombo National Hospital.

[Venerable Watareka Vijitha Thera, chief prelate of the Mahiyangana Mahaweli Aramya, is a moderate Buddhist who has spoken out against the extreme Buddhist group, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). He has previously complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) of death threats from the BBS after he spoke of Muslims as being a part and parcel of Sri Lanka. The HRCSL rejected his complaint.]

The lawyer of the Ven. VijithaThera confirmed to Ceylon Today, the Thera was forcibly circumcised on Thursday (19) by an unidentified group who kidnapped and assaulted him at Bandaragama, on Thursday morning. Attorney-at-Law Senaka Perera said, "Vijitha Thera was assaulted on Thursday.

He sustained severe injuries and had been forcibly circumcised. Vijitha Thera is still receiving treatment at the National Hospital and was transferred to a new ward, under security.

The Venerable Watareka VijithaThera was abducted on Thursday and was found by a passerby unconscious, tied, undressed and dumped under a bridge. Bandaragama Police had rushed him to the Panadura Hospital and he was later transferred to the National Hospital.


Times Online (Sri Lanka)
June 23, 2014

Ven. Watareka Vijitha Thera abduction claim false: Police

The complaint lodged by Venerable Watareka Vijitha Thero in which he claimed that he had been abducted and assaulted, according to the Police are false.

Police Media Spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana speaking at a media briefing yesterday said ... that the injuries sustained by the monk on examinstion by the Chief Judicial Medical Officer of Colombo and two Assistant Judicial Medical Officers had revealed self inflicted injuries.

“They say that the injuries were caused using a keychain that the monk had with him. ... ” the police media spokesperson was quoted as saying.

[So he circumcised himself with a keychain?]

 


June 21, 2014

Foreskin pride comes to Saskatoon Pride Parade

by Lasia Kretzel

Glen Callender walked in the Saskatoon Pride Parade to raise awareness for [non-]circumcision rights.

As hundreds of people marched through downtown in the pouring rain for the pride parade on Saturday, one man was on a mission to bring attention to a very sensitive issue.

Among all the glitter and rainbows, Glenn Callender was out to show his foreskin pride in the hopes of bringing awareness to the damage caused by circumcision and the skewed right to genital integrity.

As the founder of the Canadian Foreskin awareness project, Callender said their main goal is to ban circumcision in children until they're 18 years old.

"If you're an adult, you have a right to modify your body as you see fit but nobody has the right to deprive you the right of your own body parts based on their beliefs, aesthetic preferences or any reason," Callender said.

Callender said there's an unequal application of a person's right to their own body because people view male circumcision differently than female circumcision.

Under Canadian law, girls under 18 cannot have their genitals tampered with, even for religious reasons.

"We are not accustomed to female circumcision because it's not in the bible. It's easy for us to look at that and say that's wrong but 'oh taking a knife to a boy's penis? That's just good parenting,'" Callender said. "If a girl has that right then so do boys and intersex children."

In South Africa it is illegal to circumcise a boy under the age of 16 without religious or medical reasons.

Though considered normal procedure in most of North America, circumcision has become a hot button issue in Europe with states such as Finland and Denmark considering legislation to limit or ban circumcision of minors.

Callender predicts the world will see the first state to ban circumcision in minors within a year or two.

Though his group’s message mirrors pride week's of sexual freedom, self-determination and human rights, Callender said his group receives mixed reactions at pride events.

"Most of the time when you see a pride parade you'll agree with most of the messages because the homophobes don't come. So foreskin pride is in the unusual position of actually confronting the sexual prejudice of queer people," he said, adding he's received everything from thankful handshakes to booing. "It's very difficult for a man to admit that there's any short coming in his penis."

For now, Callender is working to generate awareness by attending as many pride events as he can. He'll be in Toronto next week for World Pride, then to pride weeks in Victoria B.C., Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary and Atlanta.

 

Bhaskar News
June 21, 2014

SHOCKING: Every girl of same class reported to have undergone genital mutilation in Sweden

Stockholm: A shocking case of female genital mutilation has come to light in a school of Sweden.

At least 28 girls of the same class have reportedly gone through the extreme form of circumcision. The incident came to light after an investigation.

According to the health officials of Norrkoping, every girl of the single class was subjected to the procedure of female genital mutilation.

At least 60 such cases have been reported since March in Norrkoping. Out of 60, at least 28 girls have gone through the torture of extreme circumcision in which clitoris and labia are cut off while the vagina is sewn up leaving a small opening.

The practice of female genitals mutilation is common in 27 countries mostly African and with large Muslim population.

However, Sweden was one of the countries which prohibited the practice of genital mutilation. The country had banned forced circumcision by parents on the child in the year 1999.

The student health coordinator of Norrkoping, Petra Blom Andersson told a newspaper "We're working to inform parents that they could face prison if they come back and their children have undergone female genital mutilation."

The female genital mutilation is a punishable act in Sweden. Since 1982, the punishment was restricted to imprisonment but in 1999, the law was changed.

 

Failed Messiah
June 20, 2014

Female Circumcision Likely Began As A Means To Ward Off Vaginal Infections And Diseases Where Water Was Scarce, New Research Seems To Show

by Shmarya Rosenberg

New research conducted for the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) has reportedly found that female circumcision, known more commonly in the West as female genital mutilation (FGM), is prevalent in areas of the country where water resources are lacking. The research, which has not yet been publicly released, also shows that in areas where water resources are good, like in the Rift Valley, FGM is rare.

There is reportedly a common belief among a Kenyan tribe that a woman can get vaginal yeast infections and other diseases if they are not circumcised. This appears to support the new research findings that indicate FGM likely began as a reaction to the lack of clean water necessary to properly bathe.

Male circumcision, however, likely began in ancient Egypt as a fertility rite and was later adopted by by other peoples in the region – including the ancient Hebrews, who appear to never have practiced FGM.

The Land of Israel was a less arid when ancient Hebrew civilization began there about 3,000 years ago than it is today.

[As with male genital cutting, under the conditions it began, female genital cutting would have killed far more children than it ever protected from anything. As with male cutting, the health reasons came later. This is just another similarity between the two kinds of genital cutting. The real question is not, why do we compare them, but why do we distinguish them?]

 

The New Age Online (South Africa)
June 19, 2014

Contralesa to monitor initiation schools

by Sithandiwe Velaphi

Traditional leaders and health officials in the Eastern Cape will monitor initiation schools daily in an effort to stop the deaths of initiates.

The decision, announced yesterday, followed the death of an initiate in Mqanduli a week ago.

The death has left Eastern Cape traditional leaders worried following their immense campaigns with which they pledged for zero deaths of initiates this winter.

A 16-year-old initiate died at Upper Ngqwarha village in Mqanduli.

It is not yet clear how the initiate died but a botched circumcision has not been ruled out.

In the past four days, hundreds of boys in the Eastern Cape have gone to circumcision schools in line with their culture.

Traditional leaders will launch the start of the initiation season in Mthatha on Friday.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa), which vowed for zero deaths, said the death of the Mqanduli initiate was cause for concern.

“This means our aim has been dashed already. This is worrying us,” Contralesa general secretary chief Xolile Ndevu said.

“But we are not going to fold our arms. “We will play our part in making sure that lives of our boys are saved.”

...

A total of 82 boys form the Eastern Cape died between June and December last year.

A former Eastern Cape doctor, Dingeman Rijken, who worked at Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff, said only the centralisation of the ritual could save lives. [...or leaving out the genital cutting...]

“The rest of their (traditional leaders’) plan is similar to those of previous years.

It is therefore highly unlikely that this season will be death-free,” Rijken said.

 

The New Age Online
June 17, 2014

Two initiates lose lives

by France Nyaka

Two dockets of murder will be sent to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) by police authorities following the deaths of initiates in the province.

Police said two boys, whose names have not been released, lost their lives a few days ago due to circumcision complications at an initiation school in Verena outside Kwaggafotein.

The school is allegedly headed by a female principal “surgeon” (known as ingcibi in the Nguni languages), even though women are traditionally barred from involvement in initiation schools.

The Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa (Contralesa) in the province has called for urgent police investigation because “not a single woman has the authority to run an initiation school for men in the province”.

And while some sources have claimed that there have in fact been three initiation-related deaths in the province, police have denied this and said that only two boys lost their lives.

...

But sources told The New Age that the female school owner was granted authority to conduct circumcisions by the Mgibe-Mabena Traditional Authority, which is under the principal command of Ndebele monarch Makhosonke II.

The king’s spokesperson, prince Jimmy Mabena, referred all enquiries to the traditional authority’s chairperson, prince Daniel Mabena, who could not be reached for comment.

Last year, almost 30 Ndebele initiates died as a result of dehydration, excessive bleeding and botched circumcisions.

A few days ago, the NPA returned the dockets to the police and recommended that those involved be charged in the courts of their respective areas, such as KwaMhlanga, Middelburg, Verena and Belfast.

 

Newsday (Zimbabwe)
June 17, 2014

Lack of funding stalls circumcision programme

by Veneranda Langa

THE United Nations Programme on HIV and Aids (UNAids) says lack of funding and medical personnel has stalled expansion of the Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) programme to rural areas.

This was disclosed in a 2013 UNAids report titled Matching Supply with Demand: Scaling Up Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision in Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

The report said the shortage of doctors had caused the programme to miss its targets to circumcise some 1,3 million males aged between 13-29 years by 2015.

... The UN body also recommended intensive awareness campaigns to dispel existing misconceptions about the benefits of circumcision. [...such as the myth that there is any benefit...]

Zimbabwe is a non-circumcising country and local norms around VMMC, such as a strong preference for VMMC during pre-adolescence, are not a hindrance to reaching the target population. Over 76% of the VMMCs in Zimbabwe are performed on males aged 15 to 49 years.

“Zimbabwe plans to dispel myths about circumcision through scaling up demand creation activities, particularly best practices such as partnerships with public figures and community organisations and leaders and through engaging women as both partners and mothers.” ["Demand creation" = propaganda, brainwashing]

 

Vårt land (Denmark)
14 June, 2014

Samlet ja til omskjæringslov

Hele Stortinget ønsker lov om rituell omskjæring av gutter.

Ingjerd Våge

Etter flere år på høring og dragkamper i flere partier, får Norge nå en lov om rituell omskjæring av gutter.

I går ble det kjent at hele helsekomiteen på Stortinget støtter regjeringens forslag til ny lov.

– Gledelig. Årlig omskjæres omlag 2.000 guttebarn i Norge – de aller fleste av disse er muslimer. Inngrepene har i stor grad vært utført privat, men nå sikrer Storting at omskjæring blir en del av spesialisthelsetjenesten. Inngrepet kan dermed utføres på offentlig sykehus eller på private klinikker etter avtale med det offentlig.

– Dette er meget gledelig, sier forstander i Det Mosaiske Trossamfund, Ervin Kohn og legger til:

– Denne loven vil gjøre at Norge står frem som et lys blant nasjonene. Det har nærmest vært en kampanje mot omskjæring i Skandinavia, ledet an av Norge. Men det som nå skjer er at omskjæring blir regulert på en god måte.

Negativ høring. Da saken var oppe til høring i stortingskomiteen var det kun organisasjoner som er negative til omskjæring som møtte. En av dem var Barneombudet.

– Dersom vi hadde begynt med denne praksisen i dag, hadde vi da ment det var akseptabelt å skjære i friske guttebarns kjønnsorganer på et offentlig sykehus, spurte fagsjef hos Barneombudet, Camilla Kayed, den gang.

Religiøs identitet. Stortinget har også vurdert på de etiske aspektene ved ritualet, men konkluderer med at omskjæring av guttebarn er «tett sammenvevd med majoriteten av jøders og muslimers religiøse identitet».

De påpeker at rituell omskjæring er et vanlig inngrep i store deler av verden. Verdens helseorganisasjon anslår at rundt 30 prosent av alle menn på verdensbasis, i alderen 15 år og eldre, er omskåret.

Egenbetaling. Helsekomiteen understreker at rituell omskjæring ikke kan defineres som nødvendig helsehjelp. Det skal derfor ikke fortrenge annen behandling i spesialisthelsetjenesten. I innstillingen er komiteen delt når det kommer til egenbetaling.

...

Bing translation
June 13, 2014

Unanimous "Yes" to circumcision law

The entire Parliament would like the law on ritual circumcision of boys.

by Ingjerd Våge

After several years at the hearing and tensions in several parties, Norway is now to get a law on the ritual circumcision of boys.

Yesterday, it was announced that the entire Health Committee to the Norwegian Parliament supports the Government's proposal for a new law.

"Gratifying" - About 2,000 male children are circumcised every year in Norway - the vast majority of these are Muslims. The intervention has largely been carried out in private, but nowthe Storting (Parliament) ensures that circumcision is a part of the specialist health service. The procedure can thus be carried out in public hospitals or in private clinics by appointment with the public.

"This is very gratifying," said the head of the Jewish Religious Community, Ervin Kohn, and added:

-This law will make Norway stand out as a light among the Nations. It has almost been a campaign against circumcision in Scandinavia, led by Norway. But what is now happening is that circumcision is regulated in a good way.

Negative hearing. When the case was being heard in the Parliamentary Committee, only organizations that are negative to the circumcision came to the meeting. One of them was the Children's Ombudsman.

-If we had started with this practice today, we had back then meant it was acceptable to cut into healthy boys' children's genitals in a public hospital, asked ... the Ombudsman, Camilla Kayed, at that time.

Religious identity. The Parliament also considered on the ethical aspects of the ritual, but concludes that the circumcision of male children is "tightly interwoven with the majority of the turn and the Muslims ' religious identity."

They point out that ritual circumcision is a common intervention in large parts of the world. The World Health Organization estimates that about 30 percent of all men on a worldwide basis, aged 15 years and older, are circumcised.

Copayment. The Health Committee stressed that ritual circumcision cannot be defined as necessary health care. It should, therefore, not displace any other treatment by the specialist health service. In the setting is the Committee divided when it comes to the copayment.

...


VG
16.06.2014

Flertall i Stortinget for rituell omskjæring

Stortinget sier mandag ja til rituell omskjæring av guttebarn. Men inngrepet skal kun utføres av offentlig helsepersonell.

...

Også Senterpartiet, som tidligere har markert motstand mot omskjæring, har stilt seg bak vedtaket for å sørge for at inngrepet skjer i trygge former.

Men partiet har samtidig fristilt sine medlemmer i saken, og tre av Sps stortingsrepresentanter, anført av Jenny Klinge, har kommet med et tilleggsforslag om at det fastsettes en nedre aldersgrense på 18 år.

- Det som plager meg, er uviljen hos mange mot å diskutere om det er prinsipielt riktig skjære vekk friske kroppsdeler på småbarn, når ungen verken har mulighet til å samtykke eller nekte, sa Klinge da saken var til debatt i Stortinget mandag.


Bing translation
June 16, 2014

Majority in the Storting for the ritual circumcision

The Parliament says Yes to the ritual Monday, the circumcision of male children. But the procedure should only be performed by public health personnel.

...

Also, the Center Party, who has previously highlighted opposition to circumcision, have lined up behind the decision to make sure that the procedure takes place in safe forms.

But the party has at the same time free its members in the case, and three of the Sps parliamentary representatives, led by Jenny Klinge, has come with an additional proposal that it be determined a lower age limit of 18 years.

-The thing that bothers me, is the uviljen with a lot of courage to discuss whether it is fundamentally the right cutting off healthy body parts of the young children, when your kid does not have the opportunity to consent or refuse, said Klinge when the case was to debate in Parliament on Monday.

 

Daily Sun (South Africa)
June 11, 2014

Justice for my 4-5!

(June 11 2014) - He had the circumcision because his wife kept fighting with him to do it. But the operation was a mess, and now his wife is fighting with him because of his damaged penis.

NOT ONLY COULD HE LOSE HIS 4-5, BUT HIS WIFE HAS MOVED OUT OF THE HOUSE AS WELL.

The sad businessman (30) from Germiston, east of Joburg was perfectly happy with his sex life, but his pregnant wife wasn't. She said it would make sex for her much better if he went to the clinic to have a circumcision done.

But if he didn't do it, she said, he would be without a wife. In the end the man agreed, so he went to the Johannesburg Men's Clinic on 21 May. He paid R750 [$US 69.75] and went home the same day.

"I was not in any pain. I had a bandage wrapped around my penis and I couldn't see the cut," he said. But a few days later his wound became very painful and he took off the bandage.

"I could not believe my eyes," he said. "My foreskin had been cut off and it had been stitched back on again!" He immediately went back to the clinic but says they refused to give him the name of the doctor who did the operation. The man came to South Africa from Rwanda during the war in that country without being circumcised. "Last year I visited my family and they told me I had to be circumcised by a traditional healer. I ended up crying and telling my parents I was old and I was afraid things would go wrong," he said. "Then my wife started complaining. She said real men were circumcised." He said he couldn't sleep and he hadn't gone to work.

"My wife has taken our seven-year-old son and left the house. They are living in our other house in Vanderbijlpark," he said. "I am worried they may never come back."

The man is sleeping in the Wendy House outside so he doesn't disturb the other people in the house. "I have made peace with the fact that I may lose my penis. I am even prepared to fly to England to have it removed," he said. "But when I come back, that doctor will suffer." Clinic spokesman, Phumlani Dladla confirmed the doctor who did the operation made a mistake. It appears the patient had a lot of excess skin and the doctor didn't cut off enough.

Then he realised his mistake and cut off some more, but this time he cut off too much and sewed some skin back on again. He said the man may not have followed the doctor's instructions and that is why he ended up with a septic penis. [Yes, blame the victim.] "We have offered to do a second operation to rectify that," said Dladla. "We are willing to fix the problem if the man co-operates." "We know it will hurt but the problem will be fixed." The man has lodged a complaint against the doctor with the Health Professional Council of South Africa, which requested the name and practice number of the doctor.

 

NY Post (AP)
June 4, 2014

Botched circumcisions becoming health crisis in South Africa

JOHANNESBURG — The young South African thought he was going to the hills to become a man. He came back with a horrifying injury that made him an outcast.

In 2012, Asanda lost his penis to gangrene in a botched circumcision ritual performed by a traditional surgeon wielding the same spear on more than a dozen initiates. He was an unusual case among thousands of men hospitalized after such ceremonies in past years because he broke a code of secrecy about the tradition and spoke out in protest. For that, he endured public humiliation and even a severe beating a few months ago.

“People would just stare at me, as if I were not a man,” 25-year-old Asanda told The Associated Press. He did not want his family name published for fear of a bigger backlash from his community.

This month, youths in some rural areas will head to secluded huts for circumcision rituals meant to usher them into manhood, an annual rite of passage during the current South African winter, and in the summer at year’s end. Officials hope to prevent another wave of injuries and deaths triggered by factors including infection and the tight binding of penis wounds, which cuts off blood supply, as well as sleep deprivation, exposure to winter cold and other harsh conditions.

Septic shock causes many fatalities. The problem is most severe in the Eastern Cape province, where nearly 500 young men have died in circumcision rituals since 2006, including 83 last year, according to the provincial health department.

...

Last week, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, which promotes traditional values, blamed casualties on untrained opportunists seeking to make money from initiates’ families, and announced a partnership with the state and medical professionals to educate villagers about safe circumcision.

Asanda was circumcised near Lusikisiki town in the Eastern Cape on June 18, 2012. He fled the initiation school, but was forced to return and was beaten, said Dingeman Rijken, a Dutch doctor who later treated him. A bandage on Asanda’s penis cut off blood flow and he was hospitalized, according to Rijken. After the gangrenous flesh fell away, Asanda was discharged with a catheter to help him urinate.

Rijken said an injured penis with dry gangrene eventually falls away from the body by itself, while a penis with wet gangrene sometimes has to be amputated to prevent further infection.

“Amputating a penis is not something you do easily, because of the mental implications,” Rijken wrote in an email. “We know that these boys are going to lose their penis, but they will often blame the doctor for taking it off. Most of them come with hopes that it will become all right or grow again (which is what they are also being told by traditional nurses). On arrival, they are tired (sleep deprivation), malnourished (diet restrictions), dehydrated (fluid restriction): it takes a number of days for them to be able to discuss these things.”

...

Asanda shocked his community by complaining about unsafe circumcisions at a local meeting. The next morning, Asanda was beaten by several villagers and accused of being an “impipi,” or “traitor” in the Xhosa language, he said.

“I would always feel like sitting on my own,” he said, describing his ordeal. “It would feel like I’m not alive.”

Asanda left his home village but now wants to return. He’s not sure when he’ll go back, though, or what kind of reception he’ll receive.

 

Circumcision added to Florida Medicaid by stealth

WUSF News
May 29, 2014

Medicaid Overhaul Message Trickles Out

by Mary Shedden

Adriana DeJesus doesn't remember getting a letter.

Her kids - 6-year-old Angel, and son, Christian – have been covered by Medicaid plans since birth. Her son’s asthma and ADHD keep her regularly connected to his doctors and make her diligent about understanding his health coverage.

But the St.Petersburg daycare worker says she missed seeing a notice that Florida is moving 3.5 million residents in its medical insurance program for the poor to a new managed care system.

She stumbled onto the news only after she looked for a dentist for a daughter, and a counselor filled her in on the changes.

“I didn’t even know,” she said.

She’s not alone. For months, the Agency for Health Care Administration has been asking 1.5 million Floridians with fee-for-service Medicaid medical coverage to pick a plan from thirteen pre-approved insurers.

...

Sunshine Health, like others involved in the managed care transition, are not new to Medicaid, Senior said. But in order to attract more business, the new managed care plans offer more options for treatment and a longer list of health providers accepting patients with Medicaid coverage.

...

The list of added benefits includes options never available before in Florida’s Medicaid system. Certain vaccines, adult dental, hearing and vision, newborn circumcisions and nutrition counseling are among the benefits offered. Paterson said the extras can attract business, but more importantly, they promote better health.

[Florida Medicaid funded infant male genital cutting until July 1, 2003. A cohort of healthy 11-year-olds is ready to be testimony that cutting the taxpayer funding did no harm.]

“Many of us felt like we needed to add this extra enhancement to the program to be competitive,” he said. “And it is true though that some of these benefits that we are offering could lead to reduction (in illness), because they are more preventative in nature.”

...

 

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
June 4, 2014

Infant dies during circumcision

A three-month-old infant has died allegedly due to haphazard circumcision carried out at a medical centre in Maligawatte yesterday, police said.

The 47-year- old doctor, who carried out the circumcision without safety procedures, was arrested by the Maligawatte Police. [It is unclear what "safety procedures" there might be.]

The parents of the victim Mohamed Hamdan, are residents of Meethotamulla in Wellampitiya. The suspect is to be produced before the Maligawatte magistrate today.

 

The Herald Port Elizabeth News
June 3, 2014

NPA to prosecute 23 for circumcision deaths

by Allan Williams

Twenty-three people will be prosecuted for the deaths of young men during last year's initiation season in Mpumalanga, the NPA said on Tuesday (03/06/2014).

At least 30 boys died at seven initiation schools in Kwaggafontein, KwaMhlanga, Verena, Delmas, Siyabuswa, Belfast and Middelburg last year.

"The police acted swiftly by opening dockets and commenced with the investigations," National Prosecuting Authority spokesman Nathi Mncube said.

The 23 would face a range of charges.

"In separate trials, four medical doctors, 18 traditional circumcisers and one circumcision principal stand to be tried on 24 counts of culpable homicide, two counts of assault with intent to do grievous bodily harm and 12 counts of contravening… the Children's Act."

The act prohibits the circumcision of children below 16 and allows for the cirumcision of boys between 16 and 18 only in certain circumstances.

Inquests would be held in three of the deaths. - Sapa

Earlier story

 

Circumcision again shown to have no benefit, despite researchers' best efforts to spin the data

[Edited June 5: Now four independent specialists rebut the findings, but each story headlines and begins with the claim. Another illustration of how the circumcising mindset spins the data.]

MyFoxPhilly
May 29, 2014

Lower risk of prostate cancer seen in circumcised blacks

[Yes and green jelly beans cause acne.]

by Randy Dotinga

THURSDAY, May 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A new study on prostate cancer suggests that circumcision might have a preventive effect in black men and men who undergo the procedure later in life.

The findings are preliminary, and they don't suggest circumcision lowers the risk of prostate cancer for most men. Nor are experts recommending the procedure as a cancer-preventive strategy.

Still, "it may be that circumcision should be considered as an option for men at higher risk, such as black men and men with a family history of prostate cancer, but we need more research to confirm this," said study co-author Marie-Elise Parent. She is an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Quebec's INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier Research Center in Laval, Canada.

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in U.S. men, behind only lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. About one in seven men will be diagnosed with the disease in his lifetime [and one in three have been found to have it on autopsy], and prostate cancer will kill one in 36, the cancer society estimates.

"We still know very little about the potential causes of prostate cancer. There are probably many factors associated with it, but so far we have not been able to pin down what factors could be modified in order to prevent this cancer," Parent said. [Um, smoking?]

"All that we know for sure is that risk of developing it increases with age, that having a father, brother or son with prostate cancer increases one's risk, and that this cancer is more frequent among men of African ancestry," Parent added.

There's no way to use these risk factors to prevent the disease, she said.

Previous research has suggested that circumcision could slightly reduce the risk of prostate cancer, Parent said. Circumcision has also been linked to lower rates of sexually transmitted diseases like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. However, circumcision remains controversial, with critics calling it barbaric, unnecessary and an impediment to sexual pleasure.

In the new study, published May 29 in the journal BJU International, researchers examined the medical records of 1,555 men treated for prostate cancer at a Montreal hospital from 2005-09. They compared them to 1,586 similar men who didn't have prostate cancer.

The researchers couldn't find a statistically significant difference in prostate cancer rates between circumcised and uncircumcised men.

However, the researchers did find a 60 percent lower risk of prostate cancer among circumcised black men. They also found evidence linking circumcision after age 35 to a 45 percent lower risk of prostate cancer.

But the findings merely point to an association between circumcision and lower risk in these two groups, not a direct cause-and-effect relationship.

The researchers reached their conclusions after adjusting their statistics for traits such as age at diagnosis and family history of prostate cancer. Due to the design of the study, researchers cannot offer simple numbers to describe the levels of risk for various types of men.

Parent cautioned that the black men in the study, mainly of French descent, may not reflect black men as a whole. And she said the study included few men who were circumcised at a later age, so that finding is potentially questionable.

Dr. Stephen Freedland, a urologist and associate professor of surgery and pathology at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., pointed out that men circumcised after age 35 are unusual. "They're usually older guys who are sick and have medical problems," he said.

The study findings as a whole aren't convincing, Freedland added, especially since it included relatively few black men -- just 178 of more than 3,100 participants.

"I don't think we'll be recommending massive circumcisions to prevent prostate cancer," he said. [He may not, but Brian Morris and others, predictibly, have.] "And men shouldn't go around thinking, 'I'm circumcised, therefore I'm safe from prostate cancer.'"

If circumcision does have a protective effect against prostate cancer -- and that's not proven -- why would that be so?

Circumcision at an early age may possibly protect against later sexually transmitted infections, which are thought to increase the risk of prostate cancer, Parent said. [But studies such as the Dickson cohort study found no such protection.]

"We tried to take this into consideration into our study," she said. "It did not seem to be the main explanatory factor, but it cannot be ruled out entirely, either."


New York Daily News
June 2, 2014

Chemo, circumcision could affect prostate cancer rates

by Meredith Engel

...

"We've known for a long time that circumcision has definite health benefits," Dr. Baskies continued. "Circumcision decreases the chances of HPV infection, the development of cancer of the penis, and now it appears it decreases the risk of the development of prostate cancer." ["But wait! There's more!..."]

But not all doctors are convinced of this study's merit.

"Even with the study, the official medical stance is still that there's no medical evidence to suggest that routine circumcision is a medically prudent intervention," said Dr. James McKiernan, interim chair of urology at NewYork-Presbyerian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Dr. McKiernan noted that the study's results are not significant enough to warrant change, and that the study subjects are "an unusual subgroup of people."

"I don't think the quality of the data is there to change practice," he said.

Previous research has found that circumcision also ...


Sense About Science
April 8, 2014

"Circumcision cuts risk of prostate cancer by 45%"

... Dr Matthew Hobbs, Deputy Director of Research at Prostate Cancer UK responded to the study saying:

“Although this study appears to show that circumcision after the age of 35 could reduce your risk of prostate cancer, the evidence presented is nowhere near strong enough that men should begin to consider circumcision as a way to prevent the disease. While the total sample studied was large, the number of men who had been circumcised after the age of 35 was very small, so this should not be seen as strong evidence of an association. There was no statistically significant association between prostate cancer and circumcision for men circumcised at all other ages. No reason was collected for circumcision, so we can’t say if the association is with circumcision later in life or with whatever causes men to have circumcisions after that age. It is also highly likely that diet, lifestyle, socioeconomic status and healthcare behaviours may have played a role in skewing these results.”


Philly.com
June 3, 2014

Circumcision Linked To Lowered Prostate Cancer Risk

by Krystnell Storr, Reuters

... Dr. Christopher Cooper, a professor and urologist at the University of Iowa told Reuters Health that the Canadian study does not justify promoting circumcision as prostate cancer prevention

The number of black men studied was too small for any conclusions to be drawn, he notes. Only 103 of the participants with prostate cancer were black men, and only 75 of the healthy men in the comparison group were black.

"The STD mechanism is possible but quite a stretch," Cooper said. He also pointed out that there were certain factors the researchers could not control in the study, such as how honest participants were about having STDs or, among the men circumcised as adults, the reason for their circumcision.

Parent told Reuters Health that even though the study was small, and she and her colleagues saw only a slightly reduced risk later in life among men who were circumcised as babies, the work is one more thing to consider when studying prostate cancer.

"We are too early in the game to make it a public recommendation. It could be that in the future it will be confirmed that it's a good thing and may have an added protection from other diseases," she added. [She virtually admits that this is advocacy research.]

 

"Any cut or nick ... will amount to mutilation"

News.com (Sydney)
May 24, 2014

Sydney sheik, mum and nurse to face mutilation judgment

A SYDNEY mother stood in the dock holding her baby daughter as she became the first person in the state to be committed to stand trial for genital mutilation.

The mother, who can’t be named, and retired nurse Kubra Magennis became the first people in NSW to stand trial for female genital mutilation, accused in Parramatta Local Court yesterday of performing the circumcision ritual on the mother’s daughters, aged 6 and 7. The pair face a maximum sentence of seven years in jail if convicted.

Sheik Shabbir Vaziri is charged with being an accessory to the circumcision ritual, allegedly telling locals to lie to police about the prevalence of female genital mutilation in the community.

The alleged circumcisions took place in Wollongong and Sydney some time between October 2010 and July 2012.

Defence lawyers unsuccessfully tried to argue the girls were not victims of female genital mutilation because they only received a nick to their clitoris.

Magistrate Roger Brown dismissed the submission, saying: “Any cut or nick to the clitoris will amount to mutilation.”

...

The prosecution will largely rely on a police interview and a phone intercept between the mother and Ms Magennis.

...

The girls’ father, a GP, and four other female relatives, who can’t be named to protect the girls, were also charged over the circumcision but their charges were dismissed at earlier court appearances.

A lawyer has been committed to stand trial with perverting the course of justice over the ritual circumcisions.

A date for the trial of Sheik Vaziri, Ms Magennis and the girls’ mother will be set on June 20.

Earlier story

 

Common sense breaks out....

Bulawayo24 (Zimbabwe)
May 25, 2014

Child circumcision ignites debate

Zimbabweans have expressed mixed feelings over an on-going male circumcision campaign, especially that which targets children.

Zimbabwe introduced ["voluntary"] medical male circumcision in 2009 following studies indicating that the procedure reduces chances of contracting HIV by 60 percent.

More than 40 local members of parliament volunteered to be circumcised in a campaign targeting 1,2 million males by 2015.

Population Services International, a US-based global health agency, is offering the testing and circumcision procedures.

There are others who believe the 2009 medical male circumcision campaigns being churned out through the media were misleading as they try to portray circumcised men as "confident, outgoing, sexually appealing, and set to succeed in life."

Raymond Majongwe, a National Aids Council, Nac board member said the media campaigns on male circumcision were mischievous in that they give a false sense of security to those who would have gone under the knife.

"They then think they are macho and can go on bedding girls. It is like a licence to be promiscuous.

"I also do not believe in those said ‘celebrities' that are being used to promote the idea. Stunner for example, is another male circumcision ambassador who after being circumcised went on to shoot a sex video that went viral, exposing his circumcised manhood," hit Majongwe at a recent gathering in Chinhoyi.

Stunner underwent circumcision in 2011 before he and Pokello recorded themselves having sex and the images later found their way on Internet and multimedia, first via Facebook and later circulated via WhatsApp.

Majongwe said it was puzzling that while God created man with the fore skin, there are others who now believe it has to be removed.

"God created us that way," said Majongwe adding that he has always been skeptical of the on-going male circumcision campaigns.

Dr. Karin Hatzold, deputy head of Population Services International (PSI) Zimbabwe, said her organisation is using entertainers to persuade young men to get circumcised.

"We have campaigns that are specifically targeting adolescents, people in schools — so during school holidays we are doing massive mobilisations on mass media... "So get smart, get circumcised. Male circumcision is not only HIV prevention intervention, but it is improving hygiene, you are cleaner, you are smarter.'"

Matobo senator Sithembile Mlotshwa once touched off a storm when she called on the ministry of Health and Child Care to stop circumcising children under the 2009 medical male circumcision programme.

In media reports, Mlotshwa was quoted as saying: "In our constitution, everyone is born with a right to life and I think it is wrong for a father and mother to sit down and decide to circumcise this young child who is a month old whereas the father was circumcised at the age of 40.

"This circumcised man's parents gave him all these years to mature and know the uses of all the organs of his body so as to decide how best to remake what is God-given.

"So then why does this person want to agree with his wife to circumcise an infant who is a third person who has a right to be fully developed as he is so that he makes his own decisions about his body organs?"

Mlotshwa believes children should be allowed to make their own choices when they grow up instead of being circumcised under this programme funded by international donors.

"I want to take our minister of Health to task because I believe that you don't have to circumcise infants."

Celebrated writer Virginia Phiri said the fact is that circumcision of males has always been there. "That is either for religious or traditional beliefs and at times for medical conditions."

...

"As this procedure is not easily reversible or it can be expensive to do, so these sons will have to live with the situation that they will find themselves in," she said.

...

Legislator Jessie Fungayi Majome said it is a sad or happy (depending on the circumstances) fact of life that children are bundled with the fate and decisions of their parents.

"To cut or not to cut must be decided according to which of the two is in the best interests of the child as required in our new Constitution.

"I think more research must be done to give objective knowledge of the pros and cons of male circumcision.

"Any circumcision campaign must still and concurrently emphasise the necessity to either abstain, or be faithful or use a condom," said Majome. [Any of which makes circumcision irrelevant.]

...

Social commentator Precious Shumba ... added that from experiences of some residents, a circumcised person cannot abstain from sex, meaning there is reported increase in the demand for sex, risking infection.

Political activist Tabani Moyo said ... "... those agitating circumcision should engage in ethical advertising by outlining the dangers that come with the process so that when people decide to do it, they do so with all the critical information at hand.

"At the moment, there is too much high voltage advertising which borders on deceit that might end up leading to unintended consequences as the adverts seem to give an impression that your chances of getting HIV/Aids for example are reduced, this is irresponsible advertising," said Moyo.

...

Pan Africanist, Thomas Deve said what we know about circumcision makes us welcome it for health and religious purposes or as a rite of passage to manhood in some traditions.

"I am sceptical of the Americans pouring in money via the PSI-led initiative when they are withdrawing state-funded programmes in their own country," said Deve.

PSI's health director Louisa Norman has been quoted in the media as saying: "If we can circumcise 1,2 million men by 2015 we can prevent 750 000 new cases of HIV, which means we can really start to envision a country in which there are no new HIV infections." [These figures are based on "modelling", assuming the "60%" reduction claimed in the three trials translates exactly on to the real world - in other words, Just Made Up.]

Zimbabwe has 1,1 million people living with HIV, including 150 000 children, according to Nac.

[And more of the circumcised men have HIV than the non-circumcised:]

Zimbabwe: more HIV among circumcised than non-circumcised, 2005-2011

 

"Protecting" adults at the expense of children

Your Houston News
May 24, 2014

Stockman seeks to protect religious freedom in the European Union

In response to the growing number of religious freedom assaults in the European Union, Congressman Stockman introduced H.R. 4650, the "European Union Religious Freedom Act." It was referred to the Foreign Affairs Committee.

This bill seeks to amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include religious freedom violations relating to homeschooling, Jewish and Islamic meat production, circumcision practices, and religious garb.

"In countries like Bulgaria and Lithuania, parents can't homeschool their children. In Sweden and Denmark, Jews and Muslims can't prepare meat according to their religious beliefs. In Sweden alone, they face legal restrictions on circumcision. In France, citizens cannot wear religious garb in public schools," said Congressman Stockman.

"These laws are unjust towards these Europeans. The International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 needs to be updated with provisions protecting their freedoms on these religious issues. My bill would do just that," Congressman Stockman added.

If enacted, this legislation would go into effect immediately.

[Breaking news: European Union passes gun-control laws for USA]

 

Sydney Morning Herald
May 23, 2014

Female genital mutilation: three charged with circumcising girls committed to stand trial

by Emma Partridge
Crime Reporter

The first three people ever charged with female genital mutilation in NSW were committed to stand trial at a Sydney court on Friday.

A mother, a retired nurse and a sheikh have been accused of circumcising two girls, aged six and seven, at a Sydney home in 2012.

Sex crimes police allege the procedure was done for cultural reasons.

The mother accused of allowing her two daughters to be "cut" stood before Parramatta Local Court clutching a crying baby girl.

She told the court she did not wish to say anything in relation to the charges or offer any evidence in her defence.

The court heard one of the victims had talked about how she had been cut on a ‘‘private part’’, while another little girl had said in an interview that she was hurt on her ‘‘bottom’’.

Nine people were originally charged with their involvement in the alleged mutilation, including the girl’s father, a Sydney doctor, whose charges were later dropped.

Auburn Sheikh Shabbir Vaziri, 56, had his bail continued after he was committed to stand trial on two counts of being an accessory after the fact to female genital mutilation and with hindering the police investigation.

The retired nurse charged with performing the procedure remained silent in court but hit the shoulder of a journalist with her hand outside court as she covered her head.

The case is next before court on June 20.

Earlier story

 

BT (Denmark)
May 23, 2014

Læge: Omskæring gik helt galt i Nordvest - baby i koma

Af: Silla Bakalus

En lille baby er kommet så slemt til skade i forbindelse med en omskæring på en privatklinik på Nørrebro, at han er blevet lagt i koma.

Sådan forlyder det i et facebook-indlæg, der de seneste dage er blevet spredt med lynets hast på facebook. Bl.a. har personer som Suzanne Bjerrehus samt den kendte overlæge og forsker i seksuel sundhed, Morten Frisch spredt indlægget.

Sidstnævnte bekræfter, at historien er sand overfor BT.

- Jeg kan bekræfte, at historien er sand. For jeg har talt med lægen, der har udført indgrebet, og han bekræfter, at drengen ligger i respirator, siger Morten Frisch.

Ifølge indlægget, der angiveligt er skrevet af et familiemedlem til den lille dreng, havnede babyen i koma, efter han tirsdag blev omskåret på en privatklinik i Københavns Nordvest-kvarter. Efterfølgende måtte drengen indlægges på Hvidovre Hospital, hvor han altså blev lagt i koma.

- Inden omskæringen gav han (lægen, red.) bedøvelse, desværre kom den amatør til at give babyen for meget bedøvelse ca. 8ml. (Han burde højst give 3ml. da babyen kun vejer 3 kg.) Kort efter omskæringen og mens babyen stadig var på klinikken begyndte han at havde svært ved at trække vejret og farven i ansigtet ændrede sig samtidig med der kom væske ud af munden på babyen, lyder ordlyden i indlægget...

Dansk Folkepartis Liselott Blixt stillede i torsdag følgende spørgsmål til sundhedsminister Nick Hækkerup (S).

- Kan ministeren af- eller bekræfte den historie, der florerer i medierne, om en baby der har fået for meget bedøvelse i forbindelse med en omskæring og nu er indlagt på Hvidovre Hospital?

Liselott Blixt oplyser fredag formiddag til BT, at hun endnu ikke har fået svar Nick Hækkerup.

...

Bing translation (edited)
May 23, 2014

Doctor: Circumcision went badly wrong in the Northwest - baby in a coma

By: Silla Bakalus

A little baby has suffered so badly in connection with a circumcision at a private clinic in Nørrebro, that he has been put into a coma.

This was reported in a Facebook post that has gone viral. People like Suzanne Bjerrehus and the well-known consultant and researcher in sexual health, Morten Frisch, among others, have spread the story.

He confirms the story to BT.

-I can confirm that the story is true. For I have spoken with the doctor who performed the surgery, and he confirms that the boy is on life support, says Morten Frisch.

According to the post, allegedly written by a family member of the little boy, the baby ended up in a coma after he was circumcised on Tuesday at a private clinic in the Northwest District of Copenhagen. Subsequently the boy was hospitalized at Hvidovre Hospital, where he was put into a coma.

-Before circumcision, [the doctor] gave him too much anesthetic, about 8ml. instead of the maximum of 3ml. for a 3 kg baby. Shortly after circumcision and still at the clinic, the baby had difficulty breathing, the color of his face changed and fluid was coming out of his mouth, according to the initial post...

Danish people's Party member Liselott Blixt asked to health minister Nick Haekkerup (Social Democrat) on Thursday: -

-Can the Minister of-or confirm the story, which is rife in the media, about a baby who has gotten too much anesthesia for a circumcision and now is hospitalized at Hvidovre Hospital?

Liselott Blixt told BT on Friday morning that she has not yet received a reply from Nick Hækkerup.

...

 

The real news: CIRCUMCISING IS NOT PROTECTING AGAINST HIV

Standard Digital (Kenya)
May 22, 2014

Male cut staff overwhelmed by work

by Gatonye Gathura

Kenya: The national male circumcision programme is in problems with most workers claiming burnout from high workload and impossible targets.

A survey of the programmes in Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe shows local workers are the most fatigued.

Information coming directly from the workers indicates more than two thirds is already stressed while colleagues say this could be as high as 90 per cent.

“This is a worrying trend but not totally unexpected considering the repetitive nature of such procedures,” Dr George Githuka, the head of the programme, told The Standard yesterday.

He said with the new evidence, they will now seek a way out to save the workers from burnout while retaining them in the programme.

The survey carried out by among others Dr Peter Cherutich, deputy director at the National Aids and STI Control Programme, and edited by Nathan Ford of the World Health Organisation says worker fatigue could threaten what has become an example of success in Africa.

About seven years ago, Kenya set a target to increase the percentage of circumcised men nationally from 85 per cent to 94 per cent in three to five years by performing 860,000 procedures by last year.

But this work, which has won Kenya international accolades, is now said to have left workers totally exhausted.

The survey published two weeks ago in the journal Plos One had sampled 235 sites locally and some more in the other countries, with Kenya, which was the first to start the programme, having more workers say they are tired.

“The workers are burning out from performing a single task repeatedly in a high volume work environment that produces long work hours of intense effort,” says the study, which was funded by the American Government.

The physical strain of standing for many hours, and the monotony of repeating the same procedure are claimed to be some of the factors contributing to the fatigue.

EXTENDED PERIODS

“Other factors include attending to high volumes of clients over extended periods which translates into emotional exhaustion.”

These, the researchers say could be attributing to possible high rates of worker attrition from the programme. When asked about the impact of the scale-up of their work, the staff, both male and female, said the targets were not realistic which was leading to increased workload and hence the burnout.

“I don’t think the targets are the problem but it is mostly the repetitive nature of the job which can become monotonous,” says Dr Githuka.

Most studies on male circumcision, including the Kenya Aids Indicator Survey 2013 (KAIS), have so far concentrated on the quantity of procedures but none has shown it is achieving its primary objective of reducing HIV infections.

Started almost seven years ago, on the promise that it could reduce the risk of infection by 60 per cent, the KAIS report showed a spike in prevalence in places like Nyanza where the circumcision programme is most intense.

Circumcision status, condom use, and sexual behaviour were measured through participants’ self-report, and therefore, responses may have been biased toward socially desirable answers,” says the KAIS report, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Health.

But if Kenya is to meet her ambitious targets, the authors say it will need to retain experienced workers who are willing to complete large numbers of procedures in high volume settings.

“The country may have to consider how best to continue to motivate these workers to maintain job-fulfillment, reduce burnout, prevent attrition and maximise performance.”

 

The Guardian
May 21, 2014

Egyptian doctor to stand trial for female genital mutilation in landmark case

Raslan Fadl, a doctor in a Nile delta village, is accused of killing 13-year-old schoolgirl Sohair al-Bata'a in a botched operation

by Patrick Kingsley in Diyarb Bektaris

A doctor is to stand trial in Egypt on charges of female genital mutilation on Thursday, the first case of its kind in a country where FGM is illegal but widely accepted.

Activists warned this week that the landmark case was just one small step towards eradicating the practice, as villagers openly promised to uphold the tradition and a local police chief said it was near-impossible to stamp out.

Raslan Fadl, a doctor in a Nile delta village, is accused of killing 13-year-old schoolgirl Sohair al-Bata'a in a botched FGM operation last June. Sohair's father, Mohamed al-Bata'a, will also be charged with complicity in her death.

Fadl denies the charges, and claims Sohair died due to an allergic reaction to penicillin she took during a procedure to remove genital warts.

"What circumcision? There was no circumcision," Fadl shouted on Tuesday evening, sitting outside his home where Sohair died last summer. "It's all made up by these dogs' rights people [human rights activists]."

In the next village along, Sohair's parents had gone into hiding, according to their family. Her grandmother – after whom Sohair was named – admitted an FGM operation had taken place, but disapproved of the court case.

"This is her destiny," said the elder Sohair. "What can we do? It's what God ordered. Nothing will help now."

According to Unicef, 91% of married Egyptian women aged between 15 and 49 have been subjected to FGM, 72% of them by doctors, even though the practice was made illegal in 2008. Unicef's research suggests that support for the practice is gradually falling: 63% of women in the same age bracket supported it in 2008, compared with 82% in 1995.

But in rural areas where there is a low standard of education – like Sohair's village of Diyarb Bektaris – FGM still attracts instinctive support from the local population, who believe it decreases women's appetite for adultery.

"We circumcise all our children – they say it's good for our girls," Naga Shawky, a 40-year-old housewife, told the Guardian as she walked along streets near Sohair's home. "The law won't stop anything – the villagers will carry on. Our grandfathers did it and so shall we."

Nearby, Mostafa, a 65-year-old farmer, did not realise that genital mutilation had been banned. "All the girls get circumcised. Is that not what's supposed to happen?" said Mostafa. "Our two daughters are circumcised. They're married and when they have daughters we will have them circumcised as well."

Local support for Fadl, who is also a sheikh [elder] in his village mosque, remains high. "Most people will tell you he is a very good man: don't harm him," said Reda el-Danbouki, the founder of the Women's Centre for Guidance and Legal Awareness, a local rights group that was the first to take up Sohair's case. "If you asked people about who is the best person to do this operation, they would still say: Dr Raslan [Fadl]."

Most villagers said they thought the practice was prescribed by Islamic law. But female genital mutilation is not mentioned in the Qur'an and has been outlawed by Egypt's grand mufti, one of the country's most senior Islamic clerics. It is also practised in Egypt's Christian communities – leading activists to stress that it is a social problem rather than a religious one.

"It's not an Islamic issue – it's cultural," said Suad Abu-Dayyeh, regional representative for Equality Now, a rights group that lobbied Egypt to follow through with Fadl's prosecution. "In Sudan and Egypt the practice is widespread. But in most of the other Arab countries – which are mostly Muslim countries – people don't think of it as a Muslim issue. In fact, there has been a fatwa that bans FGM."

Campaigners hope Sohair's case would discourage other doctors from continuing the practice. But villagers in Diyarb Bektaris said they could still easily find doctors willing to do it in the nearby town of Agga, where practitioners could earn up to 200 Egyptian pounds (roughly £16.70) an operation. "If you want to ban it properly," said Mostafa, the farmer, "you'd have to ban doctors as well."

Up the road in Agga, no doctor would publicly admit to carrying out FGM operations, and said the law acted as a deterrent. But one claimed FGM could be morally justified even if it caused girls physical or psychological discomfort.

"It gives the girl more dignity to remove [her clitoris]," said Dr Ahmed al-Mashady, who stressed that he had never carried out the operation but claimed it was necessary to cleanse women of a dirty body part.

"If your nails are dirty," he said in comparison, "don't you cut them?"

A few hundred metres away, sitting in his heavily fortified barracks, the local police chief agreed the practice needed to end. But Colonel Ahmed el-Dahaby claimed police could not work proactively on the issue because FGM happened in secret. He also said they were held back by the nuances of the Egyptian legal system – something that would surprise those who argue police officers have readily contravened due process in other more politicised cases.

"It's very hard to arrest a doctor," said Dahaby. "Why? You don't know when exactly he is going to do this operation. In order to arrest him legally you have to have the papers from the prosecutor, and only then can you go. But you don't know when the operations will take place, so you have to catch them in the act or it has to be reported by the father. And that's difficult because the father will deny what happened."

In Sohair's case, her family did initially testify that she died after an FGM operation but then changed their testimony a few days later, leading the case to be closed. It was only reopened following a triple-pronged pressure campaign led by Reda el-Danbouki, Equality Now and Egypt's state-run National Population Council.

Thursday's hearing will likely be short and procedural. In subsequent sessions, Sohair's family is expected to waive the manslaughter charges against Fadl, after Dahaby said the two sides reached a substantial out-of-court compensation agreement.

But the family has no say over the FGM charges levelled at both Fadl and Sohair's father – and the state will continue to seek a conviction against them both. But whether such a result will serve as a major deterrent against FGM remains to be seen.

For Equality Now's Suad Abu-Dayyeh, the answer is a systematic educational programme that would see campaigners frequently visit Egypt's countryside to start a conversation about a topic that has previously never been questioned. "You need to go continuously into the communities. We need to find a way of really debating these issues with the villagers, the doctors and the midwives."

And for the victims themselves, says Abu-Dayyeh, this process cannot start soon enough. "They should enjoy their sexual relations with their future husbands. They are human beings."

Earlier story

 

The Pulp (Broward Palm Beach, FL)
May 14, 2014

Florida Mom Fights Court Order to Circumcise Her 3-Year-Old Son

by Deirdra Funcheon

Update, 11 a.m.: The appeals court has granted the emergency order. A copy of the ruling is posted below.

Original story:

A Florida mother is hoping the Fourth District Court of Appeals will intervene and stop a court order that her 3-year-old son be circumcised.

Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach and Dennis Nebus of Boca Raton had a child together in 2010 and entered into a parenting agreement more than a year later. The agreement clearly stated that the father would be responsible for scheduling and paying for the boy's circumcision.

But now that the boy is 3 and has not yet been circumcised, the mother objects, because, as court documents explain it, the procedure is "not medically necessary and she did not want to have the parties' son undergo requisite general anesthesia for fear of death."

However, Judge Jeffrey Gillen last week ordered that there's no reason the parties shouldn't abide by the parenting agreement and that the father can go ahead and schedule the procedure.

"Putting aside what they agreed to, if you're going to enforce this contract, you have to look in what is the best interest of the child," says Hironimus' attorney, Taryn Sinatra. "The best interest of the child should always trump" any such agreement, she said.

Sinatra says that a pediatric urologist testified at a hearing and was asked what he would do in such a situation, and the urologist said he would not circumcise the boy at this age.

However, the judge's order claims the urologist also testified that "penile cancer occurs only in uncircumcised males " -- which is untrue -- and "uncircumcised males have a higher risk of HIV infection than circumcised males," which is debatable.

Hironimus' case has drawn support from anticircumcision activists around the country who argue that the foreskin is a useful part of the human body and that men should decide for themselves whether to circumcise when they are old enough to research it for themselves and consent.

Circumcision has become controversial in recent years. There is evidence that circumcision was performed by ancient Egyptians, and Jews believe that Abraham made a covenant with God, getting long life and fertility if he agreed that all his male descendents would be cut. In the 1800s, circumcision grew popular as a supposed cure for masturbation, and the procedure was popularized in America as hospital births became the norm after World War II, but rates have been steadily declining in the past decade. In Europe, circumcision is considered barbaric and generally not practiced.

Hironimus' lawyer filed an emergency motion with the Fourth DCA to get a stay on Gillen's order so they could argue the matter before an appeals court.

Hironimus is a stay-at-home mom and has started a fundraising page to fight the matter. She describes the judge as "very pro-circumcision" and says:

"My attorney and I are going to be appealing this decision as neither of us believe it should be a decision left to anyone other than Chase, who is 3 1/2 and fully aware. As a stay at home mom, I do not have the funding to be able to fully accomplish this on my own. I am pleading with fellow intactavists, parents and all others to help me save my son, his foreskin, his rights and hopefully other children from allowing the 'system' to make these decisions."

Sinatra said she expects the Fourth DCA to issue a ruling by sometime today on whether to grant the stay.

Dennis Nebus hung up when reached by phone for comment.

A group called Intact Florida is trying to organize a protest.

See the order of the court below.

 

May 12, 2014

Complaint against doctor who sucks baby blood (through a tube)

by Hugh Young

A doctors' disciplinary body in Toronto is considering a complaint against a doctor who performs circumcision using oral suction (metzitzah) to remove blood from the wound.

Dr Aaron Jesin practises as both a doctor and a mohel. He says he does not suck the wound directly (metzitzah b'peh), but through a glass tube.

A Toronto resident brought a complaint to the College of Physicians and Surgeons Ontario, (CPSO) alleging a dangerous lack of antisepsis and unnecessary blood loss.

The College dismissed the complaint, but the complainant appealed against the dismissal to the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board, (HPARB).

About 12 demonstrators supported the complaint outside the hearing. One had a lifelike doll in a circumstraint™ with clamps on its penis.

The Chair began by ruling out any discussion of the merits or demerits of circumcision, nor any use of the Canadian Charter of Rights, saying only the victim could use the Charter. He specifically said the rule had been changed because of the Baby Y death case. [Catch 22! You can't use the Charter unless you're dead....]

(Baby Y died in Ontario days after his urethra was blocked by a Plastibell™. Neither the College of Physicians and Surgeons nor the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board found any fault with the doctors involved.)

Canada and Ontario both have case law that suggests the Charter is so fundamental it can be raised in any setting, but this body somehow exempted itself.

The complainant was represented by John Geisheker, attorney for Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC). He was interrupted when he tried to discuss the lack of any regulation of circumcision. Instead he relied on the CPSO's admission that it had not investigated Dr Jesin's claim that he "does not do direct oral suction".

The Board Chair asked what the investigation should have entailed. Mr Geisheker replied, “Perhaps observing Dr Jesin at a circumcision, or inquiring from his staff would have been a better method than just reading his explanatory letters.”

He said Public Health Canada has published best practices in perinatology [health of young babies], and that the practice of metzitzah - even modified by use of a 10cc syringe, 3 inches (7.5 cm) long - still poses a health risk that would certainly violate PHC standards.

"How could one get only 3in or 7.5cm away from a child’s open wound, with a bare face, and not risk wound contamination by hair, dander [dandruff], sputum [saliva], etc.?" Mr Geisheker asked. Also at issue is whether Dr Jesin is regulated by the CPSO when he is acting as a Mohel. The complaint argues that he is.

The Board is considering its decision, which could involve sending the case back to the College for further investigation.

Mr Geisheker, from Seattle, took the case pro bono (free) supported by donations raised by Toronto Circumcision Resources

 

Cowed by his peers: foolish boy cuts part of his own genitals off

The Nairobian (Kenya)
May 8, 2014

Ready for manhood: Brave boy circumcises himself

by David Odongo

A teenager stunned villagers from Rwamburi in Limuru when he circumcised himself using a kitchen knife.

Samuel Waweru, 15, the eldest son of a single mother decided to initiate himself into adulthood after realising most of his agemates had left him behind.

Villagers were alerted when his younger brother raised the alarm after he started bleeding profusely. Samuel was rushed to a nearby dispensary where he was treated and discharged.

Waweru who lives with his mother and only brother could not recuperate from her mother’s house as per Kikuyu customs. He was, therefore, taken to his uncle’s home but under the care of a volunteer sponsor George Mukono, since it is against tradition for his uncles to handle him during this period.

Meanwhile, pastors from Limuru organised a mini harambee to help put up a small house for him. George Ngugi, a children’s officer from Limuru asked parents to engage more with their children to avert such incidents. He also promised to introduce Samuel to a counsellor to check on his progress.

Ngugi urged Samuel’s mother to transfer him from his present school to avoid being teased by his fellow youths.

 

May 7, 2014

World Day of Genital Autonomy commemorated in Cologne

by Hugh Young

The second anniversary of a historic court ruling against male genital cutting has been commemorated where it happened.

A crowd gathered outside the Cologne district courthouse to mark two years since the court ruled that infant circumcision was contrary to Germany's Grundgesetz (Basic Law).

Demonstration at Cologne courthouse, May 7, 2014

intaktiv e. V.

This followed the botched circumcision of a four-year-old boy of Muslim parents, putting him in hospital for ten days, and requiring corrective surgery under general anaesthetic.

The Grundgesetz was put in place in Western Germany in 1949, and later the whole country, at the same time as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Both were written in reaction to the horrors of the Nazi regime, such as the evil medical experiments on children by Dr Josef Mengele.

Under pressure from religious interests, the ruling was overthrown by a law whose constitutionality is still to be tested.

At the gathering, messages from genital autonomy organisations were read outside the courthouse, before the crowd of about 50 people marched to Cologne Cathedral for more speeches. Visitors came from France, Switzerland, Austria and Panama. The mood of everyone there was described as "good humoured". A similar event was taking place simultanously in London.

NORM-UK demo, May 7 2014 ''Stop The Chop''

NORM-UK

Organisers plan to repeat the event annually.

 

Times of Israel
May 4, 2014

Alicia Silverstone nixes circumcision

Jewish actress cites medical studies in speaking out against performing a 'brit'

by Aron Dónzis

Count actress Alicia Silverstone among those Jews advocating against circumcision.

In her new book, “The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning,” the celebrity explains her personal decision not to circumcise her son, Bear, according to the website Beyond the Bris: News and Views on Jewish Circumcision.

“I was raised Jewish, so the second my parents found out that they had a male grandchild, they wanted to know when we’d be having a bris (the Jewish circumcision ceremony traditionally performed 8 days after a baby is born),” Silverstone writes. “When I said we weren’t having one, my dad got a bit worked up. But my thinking was: If little boys were supposed to have their penises ‘fixed,’ did that mean we were saying that God made the body imperfect?”

The 37-year-old actress, best known for roles including the 1990s classic “Clueless,” offers a number of other explanations in her book in favor of preserving the male foreskin, including rejecting as outdated the notion that circumcision is a health precaution, and arguing that sexual pleasure is increased when the foreskin remains intact.

Silverstone grew up in a traditional Jewish household, the website explains. Candles were lit on Friday nights, she attended Hebrew school and has fond memories of her bat mitzvah. As an adult, her ties to Judaism remain strong.

“Judaism turned me into who I am today, and I definitely feel I live a very spiritual life. I got that from my parents,” she has said.

Silverstone has a blog, entitled The Kind Life, and another book on healthy eating.

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