Intactivism News

January - March 2010

To more recent news

(More recent items first)

Earlier items


March 23, 2010

Early Termination of Clinical Trials May Overestimate Treatment Effects

Laurie Barclay, MD

March 23, 2010 — Early termination of clinical trials may overestimate treatment effects, according to the results of a systematic review and meta-regression analysis reported in the March 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Although randomized controlled trials (RCTs) generally provide credible evidence of treatment effects, multiple problems may emerge when investigators terminate a trial earlier than planned, especially when the decision to terminate the trial is based on the finding of an apparently beneficial treatment effect," write Dirk Bassler, MD, MSc, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues from the Study of Policy of Interim Truncation 2 Study Group. "Bias may arise because large random fluctuations of the estimated treatment effect can occur, particularly early in the progress of a trial. When investigators stop a trial based on an apparently beneficial treatment effect, their results may therefore provide misleading estimates of the benefit."

The goal of this study was to compare the treatment effect from truncated RCTs with that from meta-analyses of nontruncated RCTs studying the same question, and to evaluate factors associated with overestimates of effect. To identify truncated RCTs, the reviewers searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Current Contents, and full-text journal content databases up to January 2007. In addition, they searched MEDLINE, the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, and the Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects up to January 2008 to find systematic reviews from which individual RCTs were extracted.

Independent reviewers blinded to trial results and with medical content expertise matched RCTs reported as having stopped early for benefit with nontruncated RCTs from systematic reviews, based on their similarity to the truncated RCTs. Data were extracted independently by reviewers with methodological expertise.

The investigators compared 91 truncated RCTs asking 63 different questions with 424 matching nontruncated RCTs. For truncated RCTs vs matching nontruncated RCTs, the pooled ratio of relative risks was 0.71 (95% confidence interval, 0.65 - 0.77). This difference was not affected by the presence of a statistical stopping rule or by methodological quality of the trials in terms of blinding and concealment of randomization.

"Our research shows that in most cases early stopping of clinical trials resulted in misleading estimates of treatment effects," corresponding author Victor Montori, MD, from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, said in a news release. "These misleading estimates are likely to result in misguided decisions about the trade-off between risks and benefits of a therapy."

For truncated RCTs having fewer than 500 events, there were large differences in treatment effect size between truncated and nontruncated RCTs (ratio of relative risks < 0.75). The pooled effects of the nontruncated RCTs showed no significant benefit in 39 (62%) of the 63 questions. [The three circumcision-HIV RCTs put together had a total of 201 events.]

"Truncated RCTs were associated with greater effect sizes than RCTs not stopped early," the study authors write. "This difference was independent of the presence of statistical stopping rules and was greatest in smaller studies."

"On average, treatments with no effect would show a reduction in relative risk of almost 30 percent in stopped early trials," Dr. Montori said. "Treatments with a true relative risk reduction of 20 percent would show a reduction of over 40 percent."

Limitations of this study include the fact that the literature search missed some truncated RCTs and failure to evaluate publication bias in the systematic reviews.

"To the extent that substantial overestimates of treatment effect are widely disseminated, patients and clinicians will be misled when trying to balance benefits, harms, inconvenience, and cost of a possible health care intervention," the study authors conclude. "For trial investigators, our results suggest the desirability of stopping rules demanding large numbers of events. For clinicians, they suggest the necessity of assuming the likelihood of appreciable overestimates of effect in trials stopped early."


JAMA. 2010;303:1180-1187.


March 4, 2010

Ex-lover speaks about man accused of performing illegal circumcisions

KENT COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - New information is coming to light about a Kent County man who deputies say portrayed himself as a doctor and performed surgeries, including circumcisions.

Thomas Heugel has been charged with having an unauthorized medical practice, and performing an occupation [operation?] without a license, both of which are felonies.

... A man who says he's Heugel's ex-boyfriend spoke to Newschannel 3. He didn't want to be identified, we'll call him Jim.

"I alerted the police," said Jim. "I felt it wasn't right what this man was doing."

Jim says he watched Heugel perform a circumcision on a 21-year-old man from Canada.

"I thought he was joking," said Jim. "I thought he was just, piercings is one thing, but when you cut somebody's skin, and remove it, and enjoy it."


Jim says Heugel took sexual satisfaction from it.

"I could see the enjoyment on his face when he was doing it," said Jim.


As for Jim, he's preparing to testify against his former lover and wants the cutting to stop.

"It's very scary," said Jim, "piercings are one thing, but one you surgically remove body parts."



WPTZ News (includes video)
March 26, 2010

'Foreskin' House Gets Burlington's Attention

Driver Complains To City About Home

By Jill Glavan

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- A highly-visible house in Burlington has drawn the attention of the people who go by it, live near it, and even some of those who govern it.

Kevin McGrath, a Burlington resident, was driving down Colchester Avenue when he said he noticed the house. It's not hard to spot -- it's message, "Cut consumption not foreskin," was painted last summer and got the neighbors talking. City officials said it's a First Amendment issue, and allowed because of free speech.

Not hard to spot...

But it's the trash in the yard that had McGrath so upset, he sent a message to the mayor and city council. [He's driving by and the trash offends him so much he's making a complaint? And a story about trash goes on local TV?]

"I've seen many houses like this before in Burlington, and I'd seen this kind of issue go on for years," McGrath said.

The next day, City Councilman Ed Adrian reported the complaint to Director of Code Enforcement Bill Ward, who went to the house to issue a warning -- saying he'd be back the next day to check up.

"In some cases people are very compliant, in other it takes a little prodding, and in others I'm sure it's going to take some ordinance violation tickets to get people to act," Ward said.

Homeowners told NewsChannel 5 that the trash came from a basement clean-out, and that they planned to get it cleaned up as soon as possible.


The Province (British Columbia)
March 26, 2010

Circumcision on kitchen floor gets dad a year in jail

By Keith Fraser

A Lower Mainland man who botched the circumcision of his four-year-old son has been sentenced to a year in jail.

Noting the unprecedented nature of the case, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marion Allan also ordered that the 34-year-old father of two, who cannot be identified because of a publication ban, serve two years of probation.

The judge said most Canadians would be shocked at the details of the accused's actions and found that a jail term was needed for denunciation and general deterrence.

The dad, who had previously botched an attempted circumcision on himself,


The dad claimed he did the procedure for religious reasons. Allan said she wasn't passing judgment on the procedure of circumcision itself [Oh no! Heaven forbid that anyone should ever do that!] but hoped to send a message that it's a criminal offence for parents to attempt the operation on their children. [But it isn't.]

"The accused is distressingly detached from reality . . . He shows no remorse for his actions and believes he was wrongfully convicted."

The judge added that the accused attempted to minimize his actions and showed a wanton and reckless disregard for the safety of his son.

In October last year, the judge found him guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm in connection with the April 2007 incident. Crown counsel Daniel Porte sought a sentence of 12 to 24 months in jail followed by three years of probation.

The accused was represented at trial by Doug Christie, but just prior to submissions on sentencing on Wednesday, the lawyer said he'd been dismissed. When the hearing resumed Thursday, he said his client had rehired him.

Christie portrayed his client as an honest but misguided man whose life was turned upside down by the court case. The conditions of probation include that he take counselling and that he provide support for his wife and children. He also received a 10-year ban on the possession of weapons.

Earlier story.


The Province
March 25, 2010

Prosecutor says do-it-yourself dad deserves jail

Father guilty of criminal negligence after using razor blade on four-year-old son By Keith Fraser,

A man who was convicted of botching the circumcision of his four-year-old son needs a jail term to deter and denounce that criminal conduct, a prosecutor said on Wednesday.

The Lower Mainland father, who can only be identified by the initials D.J.W. due to a publication ban, was found guilty in October of criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

In April 2007, D.J.W. gave his son honey wine before placing him on garbage bags on the kitchen floor.

Wielding a razor blade, the dad tried to cut away the foreskin of the little boy's penis.

After making several cuts over a cutting board, he sprinkled an ash-like powder called Wonder Dust on his son.

The substance is normally used to treat wounds for racehorses and other animals and is not deemed fit for use on humans.

The boy was later taken to hospital and the circumcision completed.

[Would they have done that if it had been any other body part? If they made no effort to save his foreksin, doesn't that make the hospital complicit in the crime?]

Prosecutor Daniel Porte told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Marion Allan the dad does not accept that what he did is wrong, or criminal.

[Since he did not pretend to be a doctor, he is correct in law: anyone may legally circumcise anyone.]

He said the actions of the man, who was untrained in medical procedures and ignored the advice of doctors, were clearly planned and deliberate and need to be denounced.

"The trust a child has in a parent, the authority a parent has over a child, is an awesome responsibility, not to be taken lightly, not to be refused," said Porte.

"In the Crown's submission, the offender abused that sacred trust. He must be personally deterred from abusing that trust in the future."

Porte added: "He knew the risks of a home circumcision. He ignored those risks, for his own selfish reasons." Porte called for a jail term of between 12 and 24 months to be followed by three years' probation.

["Risks of a home circumcision"? They happen all the time.]

In finding the father guilty, the judge found the boy had been hurt and determined that the dad's actions amounted to a wanton and reckless disregard for his son's safety.

Before yesterday's proceedings began, Doug Christie, the accused's trial lawyer, told the judge that he had been dismissed.

The accused then stood up and attempted to have a Province reporter barred from the courtroom over concerns about press coverage, but the judge said the proceedings were open to the public and added she wasn't interested in his opinions of the press.

After Porte finished his sentencing submissions, the accused asked for and was granted an adjournment to make submissions on his own behalf starting today.

Earlier story.


Intact America
March 23, 2010

Alan Cumming
Alan Cumming

Celebrity support for Intactivism sought

Actor and activist Alan Cumming wants celebrities to come out - as Intactivists, that is. He is teaming up with celebrity photographer Francis Hills to create an exhibition and a book, to support Intact America and its UK counterpart NORM-UK. They use advocacy and education to stop unnecessary circumcision of babies and children.

Cumming, who has long been an outspoken advocate against circumcision, has been photographed by Hills many times, culminating in the 2009 NYC exhibition Alan and Me. Recently the two decided to collaborate again for this campaign.

'We both feel that circumcision is genital mutilation, and that we aren't given a foreskin for no reason', says Cumming. So the pair began to talk about how they could do something that would raise both cash and awareness, to ignite a discussion and challenge habitual behavior.

The resulting photographs are the beginning of a portfolio to include well-known men and women from all walks of life who support the goals of Intact America and NORM-UK, and want to highlight the issue.

The proposed book will be released in 2012, at the same time as an exhibition of the photographs.

For further details contact Amy Callan ph (US) 914 372-2331.


March 22, 2010

Forced circumcision in Kenya

There was drama along the streets of Nakuru town (Obama's homeland) when taxi conductors frog matched one of their colleagues, naked, for not being circumcised. They trailed their nude workmate along the streets, raising funds for his circumcision at a hospital causing a huge stir to curious onlookers. With a container hanged on his neck to collect contributions for the circumcision, the man transversed through the town with his chanting out saying it was must for the young man to undergo the 'cut' in order for him to join what they termed 'league of clean grown up men'.

[Where were the police? This was an act of mob rule as much as tarring and feathering or any other atrocity. But because it's circumcision, it's all either "Nothing to see here, move along" or "big joke".]


Pembroke Express
March 19, 2010

Beacon Hill Roll Call: March 15-19


NO CIRCUMCISION (S 1777) - The Judiciary Committee rejected a measure that would ban male circumcision of anyone under the age of 18 unless medically necessary. The measure would impose a fine and/or up to 14 years in prison on anyone who violates this ban.

TRUSTS FOR PETS (H 1467) - The Judiciary Committee approved a bill that allows pet owners to set up trust funds to take care of their dogs and cats after the owner has died, just as if the animals were minor children. [But it is illegal to circumcise a pet.]


Earlier story


Northern Echo
March 18, 2010

Prison visitor caught with drugs hidden inside foreskin

A PRISON visitor was caught trying to smuggle drugs which he had hidden inside his foreskin.

Stephen Anderson had 10 subutex pills - a heroin substitute - tucked inside his private parts when he went to Lincoln jail to visit his brother in August last year.


Jamie Adams, defending, said

... "He was told his brother was going to be slashed if he did not organise for these drugs to be brought in."

Anderson also pleaded guilty to burglaries at the Central Bar and the Eastenders pub in Sunderland.

Judge Esmond Faulks jailed Anderson for a total of two years.



IOL News (South Africa)
March 18, 2010

Circumcision drive in a financial fix

The massive circumcision drive in KwaZulu-Natal as espoused by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini last year, and one that has received the backing of the government in the province, is not likely to get off the ground any time soon.

Health Department officials this week told the legislature's portfolio committee on health that the department was still in the process of sourcing donor funding for the campaign.

They explained that taking the money needed from the department's coffers would put much pressure on the already overstretched budget.


The general manager of priority programmes at the KZN Health Department, Dr Sandile Buthelezi, admitted this week that there were already a high number of men on the waiting list for circumcision procedures.

He said the department would need more funds to successfully roll out the drive.

"We need to take into consideration that the programme is not only about the surgical procedure. Included is also educating people on how they should behave (sexually), even after they had undergone the surgical procedure."



March 17, 2010

R700m needed for circumcisions

Durban - The KwaZulu-Natal department of health will need R700m [= 95,800,000 U.S. dollars] to roll out its male circumcision programme to help combat HIV infections.

The department had already started conducting circumcisions in state hospitals on a small scale and it had asked the US President's Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) to provide R700m towards the programme, said spokesperson Chris Maxon.

Strong evidence from clinical trials in Orange Farm in Gauteng, Kenya, and Uganda had demonstrated that circumcised males had close to 60% less chance of acquiring HIV during sexual intercourse than uncircumcised men.

["Strong evidence" amounting to to a grand total of 73 circumcised men who might not have got HIV in less than two years, after 5,400 circumcisions.]

This means that medical male circumcision is partially protective.



M Live
March 17, 2010

Sparta man accused of performing circumcisions offered plea deal while police investigate complaints he had sex with minors

By Nate Reens | The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS TOWNSHIP -- Thomas Heugel is being offered a plea deal after he allegedly passed himself off as a doctor while performing circumcisions inside his Sparta home.

But Heugel, 56, might face criminal sexual conduct charges.

Detective Ed Kowalkowski, of the Kent County Sheriff's Department, said on Wednesday, the same day that Heugel waived a probable cause hearing to preserve a plea bargain, that he's investigating complaints that Heugel had sexual contact with minors.


Heugel must enter the guilty plea in Kent County Circuit Court, and he'd face up to four years in prison at sentencing.

Authorities say Heugel performed minor circumcisions on adult men and medical procedures, such as body piercing or removing skin tags, at his home.

[What is a "minor circumcision"?]


An ex-boyfriend alerted sheriff's detectives to Heugel's alleged practices.

Police said the accusations of performing circumcisions, a procedure in which the foreskin is removed, were baffling.

The operation is performed on infants, but men may choose to have it done as a matter of aesthetics, for hygiene purposes or as a sexual fetish.

"We're not sure if it was gratification or what was involved," Kowalkowski said.


Earlier story


Chronicle (Zimbabwe)
March 13, 2010

1.2m men targeted for circumcision

THE Government has set a target of circumcising 1,2 million males by 2012 as a measure of significantly cutting the number of new HIV infections in the country.

A Ministry of Health and Child Welfare official, Mr Sinokuthemba Xaba, revealed the development during a male circumcision stakeholders meeting held at a Bulawayo hotel yesterday.

Mr Xaba said the ambitious programme would be two-pronged.

“For the programme to reach the intended target we would go out to the people so that they are given as much information as possible on male circumcision to enable them to make informed decisions,” said Mr Xaba.

“We would also work closely with centres that will provide male circumcision service such as district and provincial hospitals so that the project would be widespread.”

He said the ministry was already working on finding out the overall cost of the programme.

“By the end of April we expect the team tasked with coming up with the cost of the programme to be through as this will help in the planning process,” said Mr Xaba.

He said the Government and its partners, which include United Nations' Children Fund (Unicef) and World Health Organisation (WHO) are committed to funding the programme.

Speaking at the same gathering, the National HIV Prevention Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Dr Getrude Ncube said the pilot project launched last year has proved to be a success. “When the pilot project was launched we had set a target of circumcising 2 000 males but by December last year 3 000 had gone through which proves beyond any doubt that it was a huge success,” said Dr Ncube.

Out of the 3 000 circumcised men, more than 1 000 are from Bulawayo.

Zimbabwe has adopted male circumcision as one of its strategies to combat the spread of HIV.

Studies have shown that circumcision reduces the risk of men contracting HIV during heterosexual sex by an average of 60 percent.

Male circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin covering the head of the male sexual organ.

Circumcision also causes the hardening of the skin surface and promotes more rapid drying, which reduces the likelihood of bacterial sexual infections, which in turn reduces the risk of acquisition of HIV. Health experts say circumcision does not replace other known methods of HIV prevention but should be considered as a package, which includes delaying the onset of sex, abstinence, partner reduction, correct and consistent use of condoms, treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and voluntary counselling and testing. Circumcision is however not recommended for HIV-positive men, as there are no health benefits to them or their partners.

[Zimbabwe: Life expectancy, 37 (females, 34); Infant morality, 81 deaths/1000 live births; Cholera, 98,741 reported cases, 4,293 deaths as of 10 January 2010, caused by the collapse of the urban water supply, sanitation and garbage collection systems. This makes Nero's fiddling look like prompt and effective firefighting.

In Zimbabwe in 2005-06 the HIV rates among men over 20 were: circumcised, 20%; non-circumcised, 19%]


"Don't just blame the mother"

March 12, 2010

Police charge woman with female genital mutilation of 10 month old

Also charged with 2nd degree cruelty to children

By Annie McCallum

LAGRANGE, Ga. - A LaGrange woman has been arrested and charged with the female genital mutilation of her 10-month-old baby and second-degree cruelty to children.

The 35-year-old woman was arrested Wednesday after a doctor in Atlanta determined that some form of surgery to remove the infant's clitoris had taken place, said Sgt. Chad Mann of the Troup County Sheriff's Office.

The baby was in the care of her father when another family member noticed that she appeared to have been circumcised and took her to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

Female genital mutilation is defined by the World Health Organization as a procedure or procedures that "intentionally alter or injure female genital organs for non-medical reasons." According to the organization's Web site, it can involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia.

The practice is most common in western, eastern, and northeastern regions of Africa and also takes place in some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and "in certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe," according to the World Health Organization.

It estimates 100 million to 140 million girls and women worldwide are living with the effects of female genital mutilation, including 92 million girls in Africa.

Authorities did not know if the LaGrange woman had moved to the area from another country.

Maggie Luo, a LaGrange College assistant sociology professor, said female circumcision is "quite unusual in American mainstream society." In the regions in the world where it is practiced, she said, it's used to "control women in terms of sexual pleasure and in terms of sexuality."

Female genital mutilation is recognized as a human rights violation despite its link to cultural and sometimes religious beliefs.

The World Health Organization's site states that removing healthy genital tissue can interfere with the natural function of a girl or woman's body and pose significant health risks including severe bleeding, problems urinating, potential childbirth complications and newborn deaths.

Mann said the sheriff's office was alerted to the situation after a referral from Troup County Division of Family and Children Services.

"It's kind of unusual," he said. "We don't see it too often at all."

The woman is currently in jail, and Mann said the baby is in the care of her father. He also said because the investigation is ongoing that he could not release additional information.

"I can't speculate as to how it happened," he said, adding "the baby was in perfect health otherwise."

Luo, the sociology professor, urged caution in examining the LaGrange case. She said if the charges are true and the mother is from a country where female genital mutilation is culturally accepted, that's where the key problem is.

"Don't just blame the mother," she said.


March 9, 2010

Circumcision may not cut HIV spread among gay men

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Although studies in Africa have shown that circumcision can lower the spread of HIV among heterosexuals, it may not do much to prevent infections among gay and bisexual men in Western countries, a new study suggests. [They never miss a chance to mention the African studies, do they?]

A number of studies in African nations have found that circumcised heterosexual men were up to 60 percent less likely than uncircumcised men to contract HIV during the study periods.

But it is unclear whether circumcision could have an impact on HIV transmission in the U.S. or other Western countries, where much of the transmission is among men who have sex with men. There has so far been no good evidence that circumcision lowers HIV risk among these men.

In the new study, researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) looked at HIV infection rates among nearly 4,900 men in the U.S., Canada and the Netherlands who took part in a clinical trial of an HIV vaccine. [Abstract.]

They found that circumcised and uncircumcised men showed no difference in the risk of HIV infection over three years. [No statistically significant difference, that is. A slighly higher proportion of the circumcised men contracted HIV.]

Moreover, while having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive partner increased a man's risk of infection, there was no evidence that circumcision altered that risk.

The findings, reported in the journal AIDS, come as the CDC is developing new recommendations on circumcision for reducing HIV transmission. The agency says it is considering whether to recommend circumcision for heterosexual men at elevated risk of HIV, and whether there is enough evidence to make any recommendations for men who have sex with men.

With regards to infant circumcision, the CDC says on its Web site, "many options are still being considered in this process, including simply recommending that health-care providers educate parents about the potential benefits and risks to ensure that parents have the information they need to make an informed decision."

Circumcision is thought to protect men from HIV infection because foreskin tissue appears particularly susceptible to the virus, and may serve as an entry point for it.

But circumcision may not make much difference in transmission among men in Western countries for a number of reasons, according to Deborah A. Gust and her colleagues at theCDC.

One factor could be the fact that many HIV-positive people in developed countries are on powerful HIV drugs that reduce the chances of transmission, and may outweigh any effects of circumcision. [Anything but consider that circumcision may simply not have any effect on HIV transmission - let alone that it could increase the risk.] In addition, Gust and her colleagues point out, circumcision would not affect HIV risk from receptive anal sex - and that, again, could outweigh any protective effect of circumcision during insertive sex.

The findings are based on data from 4,889 men who took part in an HIV vaccine trial begun in 1998; 86 percent [4,209 men] had been circumcised [leaving 680 intact]. During the three-year study, 7 percent [342] of the men became HIV-positive.

When the researchers accounted for other factors -- including demographics, and HIV risk factors like drug use and having unprotected sex -- circumcision showed no effect on the odds of HIV transmission.

Still, Gust and her colleagues point to some limitations of their study, including the relatively small number of uncircumcised men overall and the small number of uncircumcised men who became HIV-positive during the study -- 43 [6.3% - a lower rate than the circumcised men 299/4209 = 7.1%. When studies - such as the three RCTs - seem to show a protective effect, the small number of men involved is glossed over..].

They say that future studies, with larger samples of uncircumcised men, should continue to look at the question of circumcision and HIV transmission among men who have sex with men.

[It's as though they're so desparate to prove that circumcision has a protective effect that they will just keep on doing studies till they find one that does.]

The researchers also note, however, that other CDC scientists have concluded, based on their own studies, that circumcision would likely have only a "limited" impact on HIV transmission in the U.S. [- or no effect at all, or contribute to it.]


Tonight (South Africa)
March 9, 2010

Tackling a taboo culture


Author Thando Mgqolozana is unapologetic about writing A Man Who Is Not a Man, which is based on the Xhosa initiation ritual of circumcision.

Even though talking about what happens on the mountain while boys undergo the snip is taboo, he dares any traditionalist or Xhosa man to challenge him and defend this ritual at this year's Time of the Writer Festival.

"People are dying every circumcision season and nobody is allowed to say anything. I am inviting Xhosa men to come out and tell everyone what it is that circumcision teaches. So-called custodians must account and they must give society a reason to let a culture that goes against fundamental constitutional principles of life, healthcare, dignity and so on space to continue existing," Mgqolozana said.

The book, which is his first novel, tells of the trauma Lumkile, a young Xhosa man, experiences after suffering a botched circumcision.

Lumkile struggles with the choice of staying on the mountain and facing possible death for the sake of being called a man, or going to hospital and being ostracised by his community for not being man enough to see the ritual through.

While some parts of the book are derived purely from Mgqolozana's imagination, other parts of it come from his personal recall as a Xhosa man who has undergone this initiation process.

However, while Mgqolozana does not dispute the fact that there is a need for this ritual, [When will someone?] he does raise the following questions:

What advantage do those men who have undergone this sacred rite have over those who have not?

Why does the community not hold other rites of passages, such as virginity testing, as equally sacred and taboo when it comes to being discussed in a public forum?

The author also talks about the fact that if an initiate should die while undergoing the circumcision ritual, his family does not find any closure.

"As long as you are a non-Xhosa and are un-circumcised (traditionally), you are not allowed to talk about this.

"And even if you are, when you begin to speak you are said to be selling something that is not for sale.

"While I anticipated the negativity, I was more troubled by the story that needed to be told than the fear of telling it," Mgqolozana said.

# The Time of The Writer Festival, which is hosted by the UKZN Centre of Arts, starts today and runs until Saturday.


March 8, 2010

EGYPT: FGM/C still widespread, says WHO-funded study

CAIRO, 8 March 2010 (IRIN) - "It is a day I don't want to remember. Whenever it comes to my mind, it sends shivers down my spine," said Aya Abdel Aati, aged 17, recalling the painful experience of her circumcision at the age of 12. She says she bled for several days.

Despite efforts by the authorities, NGOs, and international agencies to eliminate Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C), the practice is still widespread in Egypt and deeply rooted in the minds of the people, according to a study funded by World Health Organization (WHO) entitled Investigating Women's Sexuality in Relation to Female Genital Mutilation in Egypt.

"The main reason we found for the continuation of the practice is a drive to control a woman's sexuality before marriage as a means of ensuring her virginity and therefore her marriageability by delivering an intact bride to her prospective husband," the study said.

The study said many of those surveyed saw FGM/C as a "family affair" and a personal decision, in which the government should not interfere. "Therefore they are highly skeptical that regulations and laws recently introduced to stamp out the practice will actually succeed," it said.

In 2008, Egypt passed a law criminalizing FGM/C with punishments ranging from three months to two years in prison, and a fine of 1,000-5,000 Egyptian pounds (US$183-912).

Experts believe that although female circumcision is widespread, considerable progress has been achieved. "The Demographic Health Survey of 2008 [published in 2009] showed that 72 percent of girls aged 15-30 were circumcised, compared to 96 percent of the same age group in the Demographic Health Survey of 1995," said Azza Shalaby, gender adviser at Plan Egypt, a children's development NGO.

However, the Demographic Health Survey of 2008 also indicated that 91 percent of women aged 15-49 were circumcised.

Elaine Bainard, head of UNICEF Egypt's Child Protection Section, believes the prevalence of FGM/C is high but decreasing. "We believe that as more and more families publicly declare their position not to cut, and as their daughters are successfully married, the momentum will grow further."

Religious leaders, both Muslims and Christians, are playing an important role fighting in FGM/C, preaching that the practice is not related to Islam or Christianity.

However, there are conflicting views among them, according to the WHO-funded study. "This was particularly true for Muslim leaders, who are bombarded with contradictory messages from official religious scholars and so-called 'tele-sheikhs', religious figures on TV and other media," the study said.

Physical, psychological damage
Meanwhile, circumcised girls and women are suffering physically and psychologically.

"The process of FGM/C can be very traumatic for girls, as they are compelled or forced to comply with the procedure. They must endure the physical pain but also the emotional aftermath of being subjected to the cutting by those she loves," Bainard said.

In extreme cases, where the cut has been extensive, girls could face increased risks during childbirth, and incontinence, she added.

"Some women have urinary tract problems and others severe bleeding during delivery," said Plan Egypt's Shalaby. "But circumcised women worry less about health complications than the psychological effect and shock. They say they became more secluded and fearful."

"Giving them [people] solid information about the benefits of abandoning FGM/C within the context of social pressure to abandon it, is achieving success, but it takes time," Bainard said.


Wood TV
March 7, 2010

Alleged circumcision victim 'deceived'

Thomas Heugel faces charges for adult circumcision

By Leon Hendrix

SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) - One alleged victim of Thomas Heugel said Heugel had him fooled last summer, convincing him he was a doctor.

Heugel also encouraged the 21-year-old man, who has a mental disability, to undergo a procedure the alleged victim said he didn't want to do.

"Mr. Heugel or whoever told me that he had medication and that the surgery -- that needed to be done," the alleged victim said.

Heugel circumcised him, the alleged victim said, and pain medication was not used.

Prosecutors on Wednesday filed criminal charges against Heugel, of Sparta, after investigators said he performed circumcisions on adult males without a license. [No such licence is issued or required.]

He had a "a makeshift operating room in his house," according to a Kent County sheriff's lieutenant.

"It was a good-sized room," the alleged victim said. "He had needles on one shelf -- pretty much looking like a doctor's office."

Heugel is not and has never been a doctor. He has been released from the Kent County jail on $5,000 bond.

"I don't like him being out on the streets," the alleged victim said. "I don't know what he's doing."

The man met Heugel through a mutual friend, and shortly after, Heugel asked to see him naked. Next, Heugel brought up the idea of wanting to circumcise him.

"It was (Heugel's) idea," the man said. "My idea was 'no' and he convinced me with his idea."

Heugel spoke with 24 Hour News 8 at his home Sunday, but refused to go on camera. He wouldn't confirm or deny the charges against him, but said he didn't take advantage of this victim and never meant to hurt anyone.

When a reporter told Heugel he spoke to someone involved, Heugel asked if it was a victim. When the reporter answered "yes," Heugel asked, "which one?"

The alleged victim said he was friends with Heugel until the incident. And it happened more than once, he said.

"(Heugel) did it wrong the first time and then, a couple days later -- well, weeks later -- when it was healed up, he did it again," the man said. "If I went to the doctor, it would cost me more. So, he did it for me for nothing."


[Heugel's only crime - if he is guilty - was pretending to be a doctor. Anyone, just anyone, may circumcise a consenting adult or a non-consenting baby or child (boys only, that is) if one custodial parent agrees. It wouldn't even be legal for a doctor (or anyone else) to cut off any other healthy, normal, functional part of any other part of any person's anatomy without a medical diagnosis. That just underlines how peculiar circumcision is.]


Times Live (South Africa)
March 6, 2010

Man circumcised by vengeful lovers

A Mthatha man was circumcised by two lovers after they found out he dated both at the same time, Eastern Cape police said on Saturday.

Superintendent Mzukisi Fatyela said the 39-year-old's two girlfriends, aged 31 and 41, ganged up against him around 9pm on Friday.

They first stabbed then circumcised him.

He was taken to the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital. The women were arrested on charges of attempted murder and assault.



This item was briefly reprinted here in error


Peter Adler's blog
March 3, 2010

Massachusetts Senate Committee Hears Bill To Outlaw Infant Circumcision

This Tuesday the Judiciary Committee of the Massachusetts legislature held a public hearing on Senate 1777, a bill that would make it criminal to cut anyone’s genitals before age 18 except when medically necessary. MGMBill.org’s spokesman Matthew Hess said that identical bills are pending in Congress and 44 other states. Massachusetts became the first state to hold a hearing on a gender neutral bill. The bill’s sponsor, Charles Antonelli, noted that the subject is uncomfortable and emotionally charged, but important to discuss openly.

A 1996 federal law made female genital cutting (FGC) criminal, and 14 states have enacted similar statutes. At issue then is whether to abolish male circumcision (MGC). Circumcision rates have dropped from the 90% plus range to 55% today, but this still represents more than one million American boys per year.

Eighteen people testified in support of the bill and three against....

(to the rest - if this link fails, contact us)

[Thiat summary is by Peter Adler, a Massachusetts attorney, who also testified. His testimony included this: ]

"Congress and 14 states have made female genital cutting illegal. At issue is whether to ban male circumcision as well. The legal memorandum I have submitted argues that circumcision is already illegal, even with parental consent.

"This makes your job much easier. You need not address the merits of circumcision, consider parents’ beliefs, or create new law. This bill is needed, however, to enforce the law.

"First, cutting anyone’s genitals without consent is criminal assault. There is no exception for boys. We may not prosecute circumcision, but only because it is routine, as were slavery and discrimination against women.

"Secondly, in banning female genital cutting, Congress found that it violates the 14th amendment right to privacy and security of the person. The Massachusetts Constitution contains the same provision. Since everyone has the same rights, both female and male genital cutting are unconstitutional. The 14th amendment also prohibits protecting females without extending equal protection of the law to males. The government is sworn to uphold the Constitution, and thus I believe to abolish all genital cutting.



AOL News
March 1, 2010

AIDS Epidemic in Some US Cities Worse Than Global Hot Spots

Katie Drummond

Despite advances in prevention and treatment, rates of HIV/AIDS in some parts of the U.S. are higher than those in sub-Saharan Africa, say the authors of a recent study in The New England Journal of Medicine.


Rates of HIV among adults in Washington, D.C., for example, now exceed 1 in 30 -- higher than reported rates in Ethiopia, Nigeria or Rwanda. In New York, rates are higher among blacks (1 in 40) and injection-drug users (1 in 8).

In urban areas across the country, 30 percent of men engaging in "sex with other men" are contracting HIV -- compared with overall population rates of 7.8 percent in Kenya and 16.9 percent in South Africa. [This seems impossibly high. Has someone confused this with "30% of cases are men who have sex with men"? In the nature of things, the number of men who have sex with men - but are not out as gay - is large and unknown.]

Groups at a high risk of HIV infection have remained largely unchanged since the 1980s. So what happened to ongoing efforts at prevention and education, which were largely concentrated on those same demographics?

According to the essay's authors, it's a question of insular sexual networks rather than individual behaviors.

"Understanding the context and settings in which risk is increased may lead to more robust and effective preventive interventions," the authors note. The idea hits on some touchy subjects, like the vulnerable demographics of black and Hispanic women, who are more likely to have multiple partners within one community because of the rates of incarceration among men in their social circles.

Those at high risk are also less likely to have access to health care, which means fewer opportunities to learn about or benefit from preventive interventions like HIV tests, anti-retroviral therapy or even condoms.

And AIDS remains an epidemic in the U.S. Low prevalence in most areas is outweighed by the startlingly high occurrence in others.

Potential solutions are nuanced and require out-of-the-box thinking, the essay notes. For example, the authors urge public health officials to shed ideological biases, like an unwillingness to consider needle exchange programs or safe sex in bathhouses.



The Jewish Chronicle
February 25, 2010

Couple fined for son's circumcision by British rabbi

Finnish Jews Moshe and Miriam Levi have been fined by the Helsinki District Court after British rabbi Yossi Simon did not use an anaesthetic when circumcising their son Aviv.

By Jessica Elgot

A Finnish couple who employed a British rabbi to circumcise their son must pay their child 1,500 Euros in damages after a Helsinki court found them guilty of conspiracy to commit bodily harm.

Moshe and Miriam Levi, members of Helsinki Community Synagogue, asked Chabad of Finland, to organise the circumcision for their son Aviv, their first child.

Dan Kantor, executive director of the Jewish community of Helsinki, said the couple were strictly Orthodox and did not want to use the mohel of the Helsinki shul, or a mohel from Sweden.

He said: “Usually circumcision is performed by our mohel, who is a member of our synagogue.”

Chabad arranged for Rabbi Yossi Simon, of Golders Green, a registered member of the Initiation Society, to fly to Helsinki to perform the circumcision, which took place in Finland in April 2008.

In the morning after the circumcision, Rabbi Simon checked the baby to make sure all was well. He was satisfied the circumcision was fine and returned to London.

But that afternoon the baby was rushed to hospital with excessive bleeding. The boy was treated by Dr Harry Lindahl at Helsinki University hospital and kept in overnight.

Dr Lindahl is a well-known campaigner in the Finnish press against circumcision. He was later called as an expert witness in the case.

Helsinki prosecutors decided to take up the case to attempt to set a legal precedent that circumcision can only be performed by a doctor, not a lay mohel.

Mr and Mrs Levi have now been found guilty of conspiracy to commit bodily harm by Helsinki District Court and must pay Aviv 1,500 Euros for pain and suffering.

The court ruling hinged on the fact that Rabbi Simon did not use an anaesthetic when performing the circumcision. The court did not rule that only doctors can perform circumcision.

A spokesman for the Initiation Society said that their mohelim rarely use anaesthetic when performing circumcisions as using a pain relief cream can cause inflammation, which can cause pain and inhibit the procedure. A pain relief injection could cause more pain to the baby than the procedure itself.

Nevertheless, anaesthetics can be used if parents request it.

Circumcision has already been put on trial in Finland. The Supreme Court in August 2008 ruled in the case of a Muslim boy that circumcision carried out for religious reasons in a medical manner was not a criminal offence, as long as pain relief is used.

But as the brit took place in April 2008, the precedent to use anaesthetic for circumcisions had not yet been set by the Supreme Court case.

The prosecutor is expected to appeal against the decision by the court not to specify that the mohel must be doctor.

Rabbi Simon was unwilling to comment. Helsinki prosecutors attempted to get co-operation with London authorities to prosecute the rabbi in Helsinki but no further action has been taken against him in the UK.


Helsinki Times
February 24, 2010

Finnish court fines parents for circumcision carried out in the UK

The Helsinki district court on Wednesday fined parents for taking their son to the UK [This appears to be erroneous] to have a rabbi perform a circumcision on the eight-day-old infant.

The court found both parents guilty of incitement to assault as the baby had not been anaesthetised before the surgical procedure.

The parents were fined the equivalent of 40 days' income and ordered to pay 1,500 euros in compensation for pain and suffering to their son.


YLE.fi (Finalnd)
February 24, 2010

Parents Ordered to Pay Circumcised Son 1,500 Euros

A couple who had a British rabbi circumcise their baby boy has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit bodily harm by the Helsinki District Court. The court ordered the parents to pay their child 1,500 euros for pain and suffering.

The court ruled that the procedure met the characteristics of bodily harm as the baby was circumcised without an anasthestic. Furthermore, the rabbi who performed the circumcision is not licensed to practice medicine in Finland.

The prosecutor had sought to convict the couple on grievous bodily harm charges or the conspiracy to commit such harm. The court, however, dropped the charge to conspiracy because the parents did not themselves perform the circumcision.

The rabbi circumcised the week-old boy at Helsinki's Jewish Community Centre last spring. The baby was later rushed to hospital because of excessive bleeding.

Expert witnesses testified that circumcision complications are very rare. That said, the court ruled that neither the rabbi nor the parents can be perceived as having willfully caused the problems that arose after the operation. [Willfully? Obviously not. Caused? Obviously.]

Finland's Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that male circumcision carried out for religious and social reasons and in a medical manner does not constitute a criminal offence. At the time it pointed out that the circumcision of Muslim boys is an established tradition and an integral part of the identity of Muslim men.


Jerusalem Post
February 23, 2010

After failed circumcision, surgeon enables Muslim to marry


Botched circumcision and resulting dysfunction led fiancee to leave man.

Ibrahim, a 20-year-old Galilee Muslim whose failed circumcision two years earlier left him with too little penile skin to perform his matrimonial duties, was abandoned by his fiancee prior to their wedding. But plastic surgeon Prof. Yaron Har-Shai eventually enabled Ibrahim to get engaged to another woman by adapting – for the first time in the world – a technique used on hand and facial burns to rehabilitate his penis, restoring normal function. ...

(to the rest - if this link fails, contact us)

Instead of undergoing a ritual circumcision at the conventional age for Muslims – 13 years – the man waited until 18, apparently because he comes from a secular family and didn’t think it was important, Har-Shai told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

The procedure was performed by an overzealous traditional practitioner, who botched the job. Instead of removing just the foreskin, he also cut off ventral penile skin, a complication that occurs in 0.2 percent of circumcisions.

Although able to have erections before the accident, the unfortunate man found that the error shortened his organ by causing the development of scar tissue that prevented the skin from expanding with increased blood supply. Skin webbing developed from the sub-coronal groove to the anterior scrotal base. Intercourse was impossible, and when his first fiancee learned about his condition, the wedding was off.


First, Har-Shai performed a known procedure called Z-plasty, a technique used to improve the functional and cosmetic appearance of scars. It can elongate a contracted scar or rotate the scar tension line. The procedure, however, was unsuccessful.

Har-Shai’s father, Prof. Bernard Hirshowitz, was a pioneer in plastic surgery at Rambam before his retirement and years ago developed the “flap technique-5” procedure to enable webbed skin between fingers to become flexible after suffering a burn and shrinking, as well as for treating facial skin injuries. But it had never been used to rehabilitate a shrunken penis.

Har-Shai decided to adapt his father’s innovation – for the first time in the world – to the young man’s problem. He created five flaps from small bits of skin left on the man’s penis itself so they were not rejected and did not turn into webbing.


The man’s penile length measured 11 centimeters after the procedure – eight centimeters longer than it was after the complications from the circumcision set in. Two months after the operation, the patient had functional erections, Har-Shai told The Post.

“It also looks great, very aesthetic,” he enthused. He added that his father’s flap technique-5 could also be used on baby boys if they have a shortage of skin.


[And it could all have been avoided ...]


BBC News
February 21, 2010

Anti-retrovirals could halt Aids spread in five years

Anti-retroviral treatments (ARVs) and universal testing could stop the spread of Aids in South Africa within five years, a top scientist says.

Dr Brian Williams says the cost of giving the drugs to almost six million HIV-positive patients in the country would be $2-3bn per year.


Success story
Speaking at at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in San Diego, he said 30 million people around the world were infected with HIV - with two million dying each year.

"The tragedy is that the disease continues unabated. The only real success story is the development of these extremely effective drugs that keep people alive and reduce their viral load by up to 2,000 times. They become close to non-infectious.


He said that if clinical trials started now, all of the HIV positive people in South Africa could be on ARV treatment within five years.


The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is planning a trial in New York and Washington - in districts that have an HIV positive population at a similar level to African epidemics.



The New Yorker
February 15, 2010

Judge rules cutting penis is torture

The Trial
Eric Holder and the battle over Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
by Jane Mayer

... In fact, as Holder was making his decision the federal court in Washington was weighing another case involving the admissibility of statements made freely, after a prisoner had been tortured. In a decision that signalled trouble for the viability of Clean Team-type prosecutions, U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the government must release another Guantánamo prisoner, Farhi Bin Mohammed, even though F.B.I. agents had elicited incriminating evidence against him from a fellow-detainee, Binyam Mohamed, without coercion. Her reason was that interrogators in Morocco had, among other abuses, cut Binyam Mohamed’s penis with a scalpel. After such mistreatment, Kessler found, it was impossible to regard later statements as free of taint.


Yorkshire Evening Post
February 11, 2010

Leeds: Parents' anger after son is circumcised while in care

A child in care was secretly circumcised against his parents' wishes, the Civil Appeal Court in London was told.

The father and mother, who are from Leeds but cannot be named for legal reasons, made the allegation before family judge Lord Justice Thorpe.

They claimed their son's racial and ethnic background had been ignored by subjecting him to the operation which they said violated their culture.

The father said: "The boy was secretly seen by a medical doctor to circumcise him without informing his parents.

"We say prayers before a circumcision happens because it is a very risky thing. Here they tried to do it secretly.

"Our children's racial, linguistic and ethnic backgrounds should have been taken into account," he said.

Leeds City Council took the three children of the family into care from late 2006 and contact with the parents was ended.

But at the court, the parents asked for contact to be resumed and claimed their children had suffered from a "catalogue of abuses" since they left the family home.

The alleged circumcision was the worst.

But Lord Justice Thorpe refused the applications and said the eldest child's wish to dispense with his guardian was merely "post-pubertal rebellion."

He told the parents that they might get access to their children in future if their mother behaved herself and co-operated with the local authority.


February 6, 2010

Everett man charged with assault in attempt to circumcise son at home

By Diana Hefley

MARYSVILLE — An Everett woman broke down a door trying to rescue her 11-month-old grandson from his father as the man tried to use a paring knife to circumcise the infant on the bathroom floor of her apartment.

The family of Christopher Eaves told investigators that he began experiencing mental health problems in October and twice has been involuntarily hospitalized. He'd recently stopped taking his medications and the family was looking into having him re-hospitalized, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul wrote in court papers.

Paul on Friday charged Eaves, 26, with second-degree assault of a child. He is accused of cutting his son Feb. 2.

Eaves' family told investigators that he'd become obsessed with having his son circumcised. He and his wife checked into having the procedure done by a doctor, but Eaves took matters into his own hands, Paul wrote.

Eaves' wife had become so concerned about his behavior that she wouldn't allow him to be home alone with their child. On the day of the attack, Eaves' mother was babysitting the child while the boy's mother was at work. Eaves was there, along with his sister.

Investigators say Eaves took the boy into the bathroom and locked the door. The boy's grandmother used a butter knife to unlock the door but Eaves blocked her entrance.

She could see that the boy was laying on the ground and Eaves had a knife in his hand. She broke the door of the hinges and wrestled with Eaves, trying to get the knife away from him. He was too strong but she convinced him to hand over the knife when she told him that she'd help. The woman grabbed the infant and ran to the kitchen to call 911.

Eaves followed the woman, grabbed another knife and snatched the boy away. He began to circumcise the boy, Paul wrote. Eaves' mother jumped on her son's back in an attempt to stop him.

The woman was only able to get the boy after Eaves stopped cutting, court papers said. She grabbed the child and ran outside.

Everett police arrived and arrested Eaves.

Doctors told police the boy needed further evaluation by a urologist to determine if there were any potential lasting complications, Paul wrote.

Eaves is being held in the Snohomish County Jail on $250,000 bail.

[What is his crime? As long as he did not pretend to be a doctor, what he did is perfectly legal.]


ABC news (Australia)
February 6, 2010

Female circumcision happening in Australia

By Emily Bourke for AM

Health authorities in Australia say they are concerned about the growing number of women who have undergone some form of genital mutilation.

Female circumcision is illegal in Australia, but experts say there is evidence that it is being practised here.

More and more migrant women are also seeking help after having the procedure in their home countries.

Across Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia, female genital mutilation is practised on about three million girls and women each year. The centuries-old custom has been outlawed in Australia since the 1990s.

But that has not stopped it happening here, according to Dr Ted Weaver from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

"There is some evidence to suggest that it does happen in certain parts of Australia," he said.

"It's hard to gauge the actual numbers because it's prohibited by legislation and it's something that is performed in an underground way.

"But certainly there have been reports of children being taken to hospital after having the procedure done with complications from that procedure."

Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital says it is seeing between 600 and 700 women each year who have experienced it in some form.

Somali-born Zeinab Mohamud, from the hospital's Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program, says much of her work involves untangling some outdated cultural traditions and religious misconceptions.

"Some questions that we ask the women is 'why were you doing it?' and they will tell you, 'because of my religion'," she said.

"We bring imams or priests to convince them that there is nothing from both books [the Qu'ran or the Bible] that says you have to do circumcision to girls. [Or boys.] So why are you doing it?"

Ms Mohamud is optimistic the practice will end, but she fears migrant communities or individual women will be demonised.

"Some people when they hear they say, 'how can that happen?' It's when something is cultural and the people have been doing it for so long, it's not easy to either eliminate it or to say, 'you have got a bad culture'," she said.

"You have to work with them, listen to them. You have to know where they are coming from in order to help them."

Dr Ted Weaver agrees and he says ordering people against the practice would be inappropriate.

"If we try and dictate and pontificate about this and not provide culturally appropriate care, we'll further disenfranchise those women," he said.

"Any progress will be incremental. I don't think that it's something that will stop overnight.

"But I think all we can do is advocate against it, speak out, try to educate women, try to empower women, certainly in this country, and we should do our best for international organisations that are also espousing the same message."


How many babies could have been saved from malaria with that money?

Daily Nation
February 2, 2010

Kenya: 90,000 Men Get the Cut in HIV Campaign

Nairobi — Some 90,000 men have been circumcised since the government launched the campaign in a bid to contain the spread of HIV.

Many of the men were circumcised during a Rapid Results Initiative drive conducted in Nyanza Province at the end of 2009.

From November 9 to December 20, some 35,000 men were circumcised in the region, according to a Male Circumcision Consortium newsletter.

Kenya is one of 14 sub-Saharan countries that have expanded Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programmes since ground-breaking Randomised Controlled Trials conducted in Kisumu, South Africa, and Uganda revealed that the procedure reduced men's chances of HIV infection by 60 per cent.

"Kenya was able to get off to a relatively quick start because we had a solid foundation to build on in Kisumu, where the research was conducted. And we've been able to build on that foundation through strong leadership from the government and excellent collaboration among all the government's partners," said Dr Mores Loolpapit of Family Health International.

The consortium, as one of the partners in the government's Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme, is conducting research in Nyanza Province to assess the impact of expanding access to the service and to identify the most effective way of delivering the service.

According to the newsletter, seven studies are under way and results are expected over the next three years.

More than 5,000 men in Migori and Rongo districts have been circumcised since the exercise started in October.

Mr Charles Kirui, an official of the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in the region, said local people had started changing their attitude and accepting circumcision as a way of reducing the spread of HIV and Aids.

The exercise is being conducted by the Family Aids Care and Education Services programme and the Kenya Medical Research Institute under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.

The National Aids Control Council has released Sh30 million to boost the campaign in Nyanza.

[Kaiser Global reported (November 25, 2008) that the Kenyan Government had allocated Sh1B ($US 13.2 million) to the campaign.]


National Coalition For Men
February 1, 2010

American Academy of Pediatrics Urged to Consider Boys' Human Rights in Forthcoming Statement on Male Circumcision

Mutilating Boys' Healthy Functioning Sexual Organs is and Inexcusable Double Standard and Human Rights Violation, says NCFM

LOS ANGELES/EWORLDWIRE/Feb. 1, 2010 - Last week, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Task Force on Circumcision met to finalize the organization's forthcoming statement, which "may recommend the routine circumcision of boys," declares the National Coalition For Men (NCFM) Spokesperson Marc Angelucci.

NCFM calls on AAP to stop the gender-based double standards relating to circumcision and take into account both medical science and the human rights of boys when it comes to circumcision.

"It is inhumane to mutilate the healthy, functioning sexual organ of baby boys without their consent, just as it would be for baby girls," said Angelucci. "The male foreskin is packed with high sensory fine-touch nerve endings. Removing the foreskin is gynecologically equivalent to the removal of the clitoral hood, one of several forms of female circumcision that are all illegal as a routine procedure. Why aren't boys given the same protection?"

A recent study using fine-touch medical instruments for the first time ever to study the sensation on the penis found circumcision removes the most sensitive part of the penis. (http://www.livescie nce.com/health/070615_penis_sensitivity.html)

Recently, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians found there is "no evidence to support routine circumcision of newborn and infant males," and, "There is evidence that circumcision does result in memory of painful experience," and said parents should wait until their child is old enough to give informed consent. (' http://www.smh.com.au/national/letters/no-evidence- to-support-routine-...

Even more recently, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia declared "routine removal of normal tissue in a healthy infant, is not recommended," and also addressed the ethical considerations of removing healthy, functioning tissue from a baby boy who cannot consent. (https://www. cpsbc.ca/files/u6/Circumcision-Infant-Male.pdf)

Angelucci added, "As for the controverted studies showing circumcision reduces the spread of HIV in Africa, there is also research showing female circumcision reduces the chances of contracting HIV - but even the least intrusive form of female circumcision is illegal to perform on an infant girl."

Renowned physician Dr. Dean Edell called the African/HIV studies "silly" and warned that circumcising African boys "will backfire." He recognized the gender double standards, the loss of sensation in the penis, how condoms and education are the solution, and how the U.S. has the highest rate of circumcision in the West and also the highest rate of HIV while European men don't circumcise and have lower HIV rates. (http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=OlsUg0sdAtE)

For more information, contact Marc Angelucci at 626-319-3081.


BBC News
January 18, 2010

Mauritania fatwa bans female genital mutilation

Bob Trevelyan

Thirty four Islamic scholars in Mauritania have signed a fatwa, or religious opinion, banning the practice of female genital mutilation.


But that message has been slow to filter down in parts of north, east and west Africa where the practice is still widespread.

Health campaigners estimate that more than 70 percent of Mauritanian girls undergo the partial or total removal of their external genitalia for non-medical reasons.


A law professor at Nouakchott University said the collective fatwa would greatly reduce female genital mutilation in Mauritania because it would remove what he called the religious mask that the practice hides behind.

Mauritanian women in Nouakchott also welcomed what one said was the smashing of a religious taboo.

However, others have cautioned that a publicity campaign will now be needed if the fatwa's message is to be spread into outlying areas where genital mutilation is most common.


Fresno Bee
January 29, 2010

Charges reinstated in tattooing of boy

By Pablo Lopez

A Fresno judge on Friday raised the stakes in a case that has drawn widespread attention -- reinstating aggravated mayhem charges against two Bulldog gang members accused of inking a gang tattoo on a 7-year-old boy.

Judge Gary Orozco's ruling means that the two men -- the boy's father and his friend -- could face life in prison rather than a maximum term of 16 years.

It also opens the door to a broader definition for child-abuse cases, according to the defense attorneys. Even Orozco acknowledged that the case raises the question of whether a parent ever has a right to subject children to potentially painful procedures such as getting pierced ears or being circumcised.


In court Friday, prosecutor William Lacy said Gonzalez held his son down against his will while Gorman inked a gang insignia on the boy's hip.

"He's crying and saying he didn't want it," said Lacy, who called the tattoo "a branding."


Orozco agreed with Lacy's interpretation of the facts, saying the tattoo -- a quarter-size dog paw, which is a symbol of the Bulldog gang -- was painful to the child and left a permanent disfigurement on the boy's hip.

The ruling outraged Foster. He told Orozco that a mayhem charge should be reserved only for more serious cases.

"It must be a cruel, savage and gory crime," he said. "A tattoo on a child, though a horrible decision, simply does not rise to mayhem."

Foster's research showed that the mayhem charge evolved from the case of Lawrence Singleton, who raped a young runaway, chopped off her forearms with an ax and dumped her into a drainage culvert outside of Modesto to die.


In other mayhem cases, a defendant was accused of putting out a cigarette on a victim's breasts or biting off the victim's ear.

"It's absurd to compare a tattoo to these cases," Foster said.

Attorney Manuel Nieto, who represents Gorman, said he also researched the issue and found that mayhem typically involves cases in which the defendant wants to punish or torture the victim.

Nieto said neither Gonzalez nor Gorman wanted to hurt the child or disfigure him. He said Gonzalez just wanted his son to have a tattoo like his father.

Both Gorman and Gonzalez have several tattoos.

Nieto likened Gonzalez's actions to a parent who has a daughter's ears pierced or a son circumcised. The child might not like the pain, but the parent has a right to do it, Nieto said.

Orozco said he doesn't know whether parents have a right to inflict pain on children against their will. Such acts, he said, could indeed be child abuse.

Now it will be up to a jury to decide whether a tattoo constitutes mayhem.


Gorman and Gonzalez are scheduled to be tried next month.

Earlier story


PoliticsWeb (South Africa)
January 29, 2010

15% of South Africans "believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms"

Key facts of the National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS, 2009


  • The National Communication Survey on HIV/AIDS (NCS), 2009, examines the effectiveness of 11 South African HIV/AIDS communication programmes. ...
  • A total of 9 728 people aged between 16 and 55 years, from all nine provinces and representative of the country's population, took part in the survey.
  • Respondents underwent a thorough interview, in which they were asked to provide answers to a structured questionnaire.
  • Respondents were interviewed in their home language.


  • Knowledge of HIV prevention methods is high - 87% for condoms on average across age groups. Knowledge of other HIV prevention methods - such as faithfulness, partner reduction and abstinence - is lower, but has improved since the 2006 NCS. ...
  • Knowledge that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection is low (7.5%) - and 12-22% of men and 12-17% of women across age groups (15% in total) also believe that circumcised men do not need to use condoms.
  • 44% of men aged 16-40 report that they have been circumcised - 27% of them before the age of 18. ...

Multiple partners

  • Cheating is perceived by most South Africans as a social norm - 86-95% of men and 90-95% of women across age groups believe this is so; but the reality is different.
  • Multiple partners is highest among youth, especially among young men (around one-third of men aged 16-24 have had more than one partner in the past year, compared with 6-9% of women aged 16-24), but decreases by age (4% of men aged 50-55 and 1% of women aged 50-55) ...
  • 20% of men and 3% of women report having multiple partners in the past 12 months.
  • There is evidence that people have decreased the number of sexual partners from one year ago - men have had 2.6% fewer partners and women 3.1% fewer partners, for a net total partner decrease of 2.8%.



news.com.au (Australia)
January 27, 2010

Man took photos to win foreskin argument, court told

AN international pilot tried to settle a debate with his wife about circumcision by taking photos of naked boys at a popular Brisbane park on Australia Day, a court has been told.

Glenn Anthony Armstrong, 47, was arrested at South Bank Parklands yesterday after he was allegedly spotted taking a photo of a naked three-year-old boy being changed by his parents, the Brisbane Magistrates Court was told today.

When police located Mr Armstrong, a Perth-based pilot for V Australia, they allegedly found about 50 photos of naked boys on his camera.

He allegedly told police he was "obsessed with circumcision" and had taken the photos to demonstrate to his wife that more boys were uncircumcised than circumcised.

Mr Armstrong was charged with one count of indecent treatment of a child under 12.

The father-of-two appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court today where he was granted bail upon providing a $5000 surety.

The matter will next be mentioned in February.


Nyasa Times (Malawi)
January 26, 2010

Shaba says Malawi cannot follow Rwanda on circumcision to fight Aids

Secretary to the Office of the President, responsible for HIV/AIDS and Nutrition, Dr. Mary Shaba, has said Malawi cannot follow Rwanda to practice male circumcision as a weapon to reduce the spread of HIV through heterosexual contact.

Studies have shown that circumcised males are 60 percent less likely to contract HIV through sexual intercourse, compared to the uncircumcised.

But Shaba said Malawi is not a circumcised country and those cutting off their foreskin are doing it for religious and cultural reasons.

"So it is mainly the Moslems and the Yao's who are doing circumcisions and some of the Lhomwe group," she said in Capital Radio interview.

"Malawi the way it is when you look at the statistics, you find that the majority would already be asking are we all becoming Moslems if you go that line. That's problem one which we are facing."

Shaba said Malawi has no policy and guidelines on circumcision. The official said she has been asking for a report to study what condition circumcisions are done in countries doing it and what practices were followed after circumcision.

"I have been asking for a report from all those people who have claimed that there is that report that people are being protected, nobody has been able to give me the report. I want the report. I need to look at the methodology. I need to look at the cultural practices surrounding circumcision," said the free-speaking Shaba.

She pointed out that in Malawi where circumcision is practiced, HIV is the highest and many have died of Aids in those particular districts.


HIV Rates:

Circumcised men


Intact men


Source: www.measuredhs.com

"We are not a circumcised country as a nation. Circumcision is mainly practiced on a religious basis and very few of the tribes practice circumcision," she added, "You can't take what is done elsewhere and say we are going to do in Malawi."

She also pointed out that male circumcision will not be effective to fight HIV/Aids because new Aids infection rate in Malawi it is highest amongst women.

Shaba also noted that circumcision can cause some problems from the penis.



Urologists join the march of the lemmings ...

Renal and Urology News
January 26, 2010

AUA Creates Circumcision Task Force

The American Urological Association (AUA) has formed a Male Circumcision Task Force and is collaborating with major international health care agencies to bolster adult male circumcision services in sub-Saharan Africa to combat the spread of AIDS.

The task force, which is chaired by Ira D. Sharlip, MD, a Clinical Professor in the Department of Urology at the University of California in San Francisco, will create a pool of qualified volunteer surgeons and link them to ministries of health in Africa and international health agencies in need of surgical manpower.

Recent studies show that male circumcision is among the most effective medical interventions in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in sub-Saharan Africa, the AUA noted in a press release


Time Live (South Africa)
January 17, 2010

Circumcision to lift flagging spirit sales

By Neil Pendock [wine correspondent]

The news that traditional circumcision has been reintroduced for Zulu boys by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, two centuries after it was suspended by King Shaka, comes as welcome news for brandy, vodka and cell phone suppliers. The Guardian reports that the Xhosa practice involves purchases of Viceroy brandy, Smirnoff vodka and new cell phones for the 50 000 initiates each year. Smirnoff ... will likely benefit from the decree. ... with Viceroy... made by Distell. With domestic sales of brandy down 9% last year, Distell shareholders will be hoping for sales to perk up after the King’s ruling.


Post (Zambia)
January 17, 2010

Botched circumcision leaves Solwezi man bitterly in pain

By David Chongo

GIBSON Chamba is annoyed. Annoyed that his decision to go under a clinical officer’s knife and perform one important ritual – circumcision – has brought him pain and anguish.

Chamba, 23, is lying in agony in Solwezi General Hospital nursing a 4-centimeter wound on his manhood after a botched circumcision operation by a male nurse at Luamala Clinic in chief Mulonga’s area in Solwezi East constituency.

And Chamba’s uncle is not taking sorry for an apology. Chamba’s uncle has threatened to take legal action against the Ministry of Health for alleged negligence on his nephew by a named male nurse. ...

(to the rest - if this link fails, contact us)

According to Chamba, instead of removing the foreskin as per standard procedure, the male nurse cut way beyond and went up to 4cm -as documented by the medical report - round the shaft of the private part, leaving him in excruciating pain and heavy bleeding. After seeing the manner in which Chamba was ‘circumcised’, his friend got scared and refused to do the exercise.


Sachiyana said people will become fearful of going for circumcision with such experiences coming up.



January 17, 2010

Thousands face agony or death after Zulu king's circumcision decree

Health campaigners say the traditional manhood ritual, which carries HIV risks, should be replaced by operations in hospital

Alex Duval Smith

An edict by the king of the Zulus to bring back circumcision for thousands of teenage boys is causing alarm in South Africa, amid record numbers of deaths from the traditional manhood ritual.

On Tuesday, at a meeting called in Durban by the government of KwaZulu-Natal, traditional leaders in the province will outline how they wish to implement King Goodwill Zwelithini's decision to reintroduce circumcision 200 years after it was scrapped by King Shaka. But health officials working with South Africa's second largest tribe, the Xhosa – who never gave up the practice – say the move could put thousands of lives at risk.

"We have had a disastrous year, with 80 deaths, including two suicides," said Sizwe Kupela, a Xhosa who is health spokesman for the Eastern Cape. Each year, 50,000 Xhosa boys descend on the vast province to undergo the secretive ritual – including circumcision by a "traditional surgeon" and one month's seclusion in nakedness. "We see horrific cases of rotting penises, septicaemia and inadvertent castrations," he said. "Others die from dehydration and hypothermia. HIV is spread because the same knife is used on large groups of boys. My personal view is that if the Zulus go back to circumcision, they must do it the western way, in hospital.''

Last Saturday, wrapped in a blanket, 19-year-old Andile Ngcolomba ended his month in seclusion by walking off the aloe-covered slopes of Peddie into his mother's impoverished village in Qamini Location.

He remembered very little about the visit he received in his mountain shelter on 7 December from the traditional surgeon: "He arrives covered in clay and animal pelts. He is so ugly you don't want to look at him. I never even saw the knife. You just black out. When you wake up, it is done, and there is some powder there to help the healing.

"I did not sleep for seven nights for the pain. To help the pain and healing, they gave me dagga [marijuana] to smoke and I was not allowed to drink water or have salt in my food for a week after the cutting.''­

During his time "on the mountain", Ngcolomba and other initiates in adjacent shelters received visits every other day from an ikangata (teacher), Mazinyanwana Mkhongi. The teacher, in his 70s, said: "My role is to check that the wound is healing and to explain the duties and responsibilities of a man. He must be able to survive in the wild, fight, but also resolve conflicts.''

Ngcolomba, who lives with his mother and elder sister in the Cape township of Khayelitsha, had gained a warrior name, Nasayi, and been briefed by his teacher on the terrible dangers of the witches of Peddie, said to be among the most fearsome anywhere.

After enduring the process, he was more convinced than ever of its virtues: "To us Xhosas, circumcision is what makes you a man. All my friends are doing it. Without it you are inkwenkwe – a boy – and you are not allowed to mix with men. Hospital circumcision does not count. You are not a man unless you have survived what I went through. No man can be a leader without it. To me, now, President Jacob Zuma is a boy because he is an uncircumcised Zulu."

[It's like the Stockholm Syndrome.]

Former presidents Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki and Archbishop Desmond Tutu are all circumcised Xhosas. Whenever prominent South African figures misbehave, Xhosa title-tattle centres on whether they have been ­circumcised.

Xhosas frequently denigrate Julius Malema – the outspoken leader of the African National Congress Youth League – because he is an uncircumcised Zulu. In 2008, ANC politician Fikile Mbalula succumbed to peer pressure and, aged 37, entered an initiation school. He later became deputy minister of police.

King Zwelithini claims to be reintroducing circumcision for Zulu boys because there is evidence that the practice sharply reduces HIV transmission. However, with a Zulu president in power, it is likely that the king is equally motivated by a desire to bolster his nation.

Critics of initiation say traditional leaders have failed to update their teachings from the times when the ritual was put in place to select and grade warriors. Despite undergoing government training courses, teachers largely do not address burning South African concerns such as HIV prevention or sexual violence.

The tradition also places a tremendous financial burden on poor families. Goats, blankets and bottles of Viceroy brandy and Smirnoff vodka must be bought. After initiation, a young man must be bought a suit and cap and must throw away his entire wardrobe, including underwear, shoes, school uniform and school bag from his boyhood. Even his mobile phone must go.

During Ngcolomba's seclusion, he was not allowed to see women. His aunt, Nobhukulu, cooked him two meals a day on her hearth and they were taken to him by local boys. Only on emerging from seclusion were women's concerns briefly addressed. Ngcolomba sat in a hut to which his aunts were invited, to present him with gifts and impart views such as "please do not spend all your time in the shebeen".

Aids campaigner Vuyiseka Dubula, secretary general of the Treatment Action Campaign, is concerned that the Zulu king's decision to reintroduce circumcision could put thousands more lives in danger. But she said it was not too late for King Zwelithini to use his decree to mark a revolutionary step forward for both Zulu and Xhosa men.

"Most new incidences of HIV are among women," said Dubula, secretary general of the Treatment Action ­Campaign. "Initiation should be about education, including respecting women. I am a Xhosa woman and I know the initiates are taught how to use their power, not how to control it. If this could be changed, while not alienating the traditional leaders, we could see a new generation of men emerge, circumcised and more responsible.''

Sizwe Kupela was less optimistic. "I have a two-year-old son and I will never allow him to go through what I endured," he said. "I am talking to his mother about a hospital circumcision now. My personal view is that the king needs to order Zulu infants to be circumcised under sterile conditions. If the king wants to reduce HIV, it is no good waiting until boys are 18 and already sexually active."

A member of the KwaZulu-Natal health department, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the department hoped to convince Zulu traditional leaders of the virtues of medical circumcision over the Xhosa approach.

Circumcision and health
A key factor in the decision by King Goodwill Zwelithini to bring back circumcision has been the disproportionate impact of HIV on the Zulu people. "Bacteria can linger under the foreskin and the resulting infections can make glands more susceptible to the transmission of HIV," says Tim Oliver, an emeritus professor at Queen Mary University, London. "Statistics indicate that circumcision has helped to halt the spread of HIV in southern Africa."

[Oh no they don't!]

Other health benefits linked to circumcision include reduced rates for penile, cervical and possibly prostate cancer. In people of Jewish and Arab origin, who traditionally circumcise their boys and young men, rates of the first two diseases are generally very low.

[That nonsense was refuted years ago.]

However, the connection between circumcision and disease prevention is not straightforward. "Studies that have compared disease rates in circumcised and uncircumcised men have not fully teased out the possible roles of other variables," adds Oliver. "Instead of circumcising, it may be just as effective to provide good sexual education and make sure fresh water is available to communities so good hygiene can be practised."

Certainly the risks of circumcision as practised by people such as the Xhosa are substantial and include the danger of developing septicaemia and other infections. In his autobiography, Nelson Mandela says his circumcision, part of his coming-of-age ceremony, left him feeling "as if fire was shooting" through his veins. "Today with modern local anaesthetic this need not be the case," says Oliver. "It worries me that the Zulu king intends this to be a test of courage."

Thus the question facing Africa is whether more circumcision is needed, or whether the same investment – spent on improving access to running water and on education at puberty about foreskin and general sexual hygiene – would provide a greater all-round health gain.


Casper Star-Tribune
January 16, 2010

Casper dad pleads not guilty of murder


CASPER — A Casper man who authorities say murdered one of his infant sons and mutilated another in a botched at-home circumcision attempt pleaded not guilty by reason of mental deficiency to three felonies Friday.

Samuel Eugene McGehee entered his pleas in Natrona County District Court before Judge Scott Skavdahl. He will be transported to the Wyoming State Hospital in Evanston and undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

Prosecutors charged the 38-year-old with first-degree murder in November after police said he wrapped a coat around his 9-month-old son’s head in an effort to get the infant to take a nap. The child suffocated to death as a result of the act.

During a preliminary hearing on the case last month, a police detective testified that McGehee, concerned about the family’s financial state, tried to circumcise his 3-month-old son at home in March 2008. A filet knife was used and, according to the detective’s testimony, the boy has endured extensive reconstructive surgeries, with more expected.


District Attorney Michael Blonigen told the court that he intends to seek life without parole.


While executing a search warrant on McGehee’s home following the baby’s death, investigators found a notebook detailing the circumcision incident from 2008, according to an affidavit from the case.

McGehee wrote in the book that he was concerned about the family’s insurance not covering his 3-month-old son’s circumcision. This led to the decision to carry out the operation inside their home, according to the affidavit.

Police say McGehee collected items to assist in performing the operation: a filet knife, clean and sterile clothes, diapers and rubbing alcohol.

McGehee and his wife took the child to the Wyoming Medical Center’s emergency room after they couldn’t stop the bleeding, according to the affidavit. “I realized (his) suffering was because of me,” the affidavit quotes McGehee as writing.

Blonigen has declined to discuss — prior to the current criminal case playing out — why McGehee wasn’t prosecuted for the circumcision incident when it occurred. ...

Earlier story


Times Live (South Africa)
January 14, 2010

More initiates will perish in circumcision rituals


The Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA has warned of an increase in the deaths of initiates throughout the country owing to the alarming number of illegal initiation schools.

This comes after the Free State department of health reveale that 10 initiates undergoing circumcision rituals died in the province in December and January.

Contralesa president Inkosi Patekile Holomisa warned that the illegal initiation schools will continue "escalating" because government had rendered traditional leaders "powerless" to rule their people on matters regarding culture.

"Our powers have been taken away by the courts and magistrates. Until we get our powers back, people will continue suffering," Holomisa said.

Among the dead are three initiates who allegedly died at illegal initiation schools in late December in different villages in Qwaqwa, eastern Free Sate.

The Times understands that a large number of initiates were admitted to different hospitals in the province after botched circumcisions. Others were admitted with severe injuries after being assaulted at initiation schools.

Free State health spokesman Jabu Mbalula said the 10 deaths were part of a preliminary report and he feared the death toll might rise as the department continued its investigations.

Police arrested 24 people last month after some initiates were allegedly attacked with "knives" and "sticks" at initiation schools.

Police spokesman Sergeant Mmako Mophiring confirmed yesterday that three cases of murder, one of attempted murder, 20 of serious assault, several inquest cases and large numbers of kidnapping cases were being investigated after some initiates died under mysterious circumstances at initiation schools.

"The suspects used sticks to inflict wounds on the victims," he said.

Police also rescued 33 teenagers, some as young as 14, from illegal initiation schools who were either allegedly kidnapped or attended without their parents' consent.

Simon Radebe, whose nephew Kotjane Radebe, 18, was allegedly beaten to death on Christmas Eve at an illegal initiation school in QwaQwa, said the family wanted answers.

Eastern Cape health department spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said about 26 initiates died in December last year in his province.

Last year alone, more than 80 initiates died in Eastern Cape.


PR Web
January 12, 2010

Circumcision Proposal Adds Fuel to Health Care Debate

Bill proposal from MGMbill.org would protect boys from forced circumcision and save hundreds of millions of dollars in annual health care costs.

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) January 12, 2010 -- Lawmakers toiling over a final health care reform bill this week now have another medical issue to contend with: circumcision. Yesterday the San Diego based health and human rights organization MGMbill.org submitted a proposed bill to every member of Congress that would prohibit the controversial practice of forced circumcision. Fourteen state legislatures across the country received similar bill proposals for their respective states.

"Health care reform will not be complete until patients are given full autonomy over their own bodies," said Matthew Hess, president of MGMbill.org. "If a person doesn't want a healthy, functional body part taken from him by force, shouldn't the government step in to provide that protection? Last year in this country more than one million foreskins were amputated from children who had no say in the matter. An important part of their manhood was taken from them whether they liked it or not, and that has to stop."

One pregnant mother in Lexington, South Carolina, agrees.

"Cosmetic genital surgery is not a choice we get to make for another human being," said Brandy Walters, whose young son is intact. "My husband and I researched this issue before our first son was born and we easily came to the decision that circumcising a child who cannot consent is just wrong. If our son ever decides he wants to be circumcised, that option will always be there for him."

Another intactivist mother said that Congress should roll the proposed MGM Bill into the current health care reform bill as an amendment before the final version is passed.

"With all the talk about rising health care costs, it only makes sense to stop spending money on surgeries that are unnecessary," said Erica Fuchs of Ames, Iowa. "Even the more conservative estimates figure the savings to be in the neighborhood of $200 million per year, and that's not counting all of the additional dollars spent on follow-up care to deal with complications. Newborns and older boys should be allowed to grow up intact so that as adults they can decide for themselves whether or not they want elective surgery of their most private of body parts. There is no legitimate reason to force it onto them."

Brandy and Erica are not alone in their opinions. Forced circumcision has come under intense criticism over the past year, both in the U.S. and abroad. In March, a group of intactivists marched outside Congress and the White House demanding that boys be given the same legal protection from forced genital cutting as girls. Over the summer, the chairman of the Swedish Pediatric Surgeons Association compared male circumcision to female genital mutilation and regarded it as "an assault". That was followed in September by a North Carolina court conviction of a father who circumcised his two infant sons for religious reasons. A High Court judge in South Africa ruled on a similar case the following month, broadly declaring that circumcision without consent was illegal and went against an individual's constitutional rights.

At least one state is not waiting for Congress to act. Massachusetts will be the first U.S. state to provide boys and girls with equal protection from circumcision if Senate Bill No. 1777 passes before the current session ends. Similar state bill proposals were submitted by MGMbill.org yesterday to more than 2,800 lawmakers in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.


Globe and Mail (Canada)
January 12, 2010

Circumcision health benefit virtually nil, study finds

Little evidence that world's most common surgical procedure can prevent sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections and penile cance

André Picard
Public Health Reporter

While it is the most common surgical procedure in the world, there is virtually no demonstrable health benefit derived from circumcision of either newborns or adults, a new study concludes.

The sole exception seems to be using circumcision to reduce the risk of transmission of HIV-AIDS in adult males in sub-Saharan Africa, though it is unlikely that benefit carries over to other parts of the world where rates of HIV-AIDS are much lower.

The research, published in Tuesday’s edition of the Annals of Family Medicine, shows that, despite claims, there is little evidence that circumcision can prevent sexually transmitted infections, urinary tract infections and penile cancer.

There are also risks to the surgery that, while rare, range from sexual dissatisfaction through to penile loss. [... and death.]

“Patients who request circumcision in the belief that it bestows clinical benefits must be made aware of the lack of consensus and robust evidence, as well as the potential medical and psychosocial harms of the procedure,” said Guy Maddern, of the department of surgery at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, and lead author of the study.

In newborns, he said, the surgery is “inappropriate” because it offers no therapeutic benefit.

About one-third of males worldwide undergo circumcision, the surgical removal of the prepuce (or foreskin).

The procedure is done principally for religious, cultural and social reasons.

Religious male circumcision is practised under both Jewish and Islamic law, and it is an integral part of some aboriginal and African cultural practices.

The main social reasons the practice has continued is a widespread desire that boys resemble their fathers, and a belief that boys who undergo circumcision have fewer health problems.

The new study, a systematic review (a compilation and analysis of previously published research), looked only at the latter point.

Dr. Maddern and his research team found no evidence that uncircumcised men have higher rates of penile cancer. In fact, they noted penile cancer is extremely rare and seemingly unrelated to the presence of a prepuce.

The belief that urinary tract infections are more common in uncircumcised males is not backed up by research. Dr. Maddern noted the fewer than 2 per cent of boys suffer urinary tract infections which “makes it unlikely that preventive circumcision of normal boys would outweigh the adverse events associated with the procedure.”

Finally, there was no evidence at all that there are fewer sexually-transmitted infections among circumcised males. The exception was a study in sub-Saharan Africa that showed doing the surgery on adult males reduced their risk of contracting HIV-AIDS. (However, rates of HIV-AIDS were not reduced in their female partners.) [On the contrary.]

Rather, Dr. Maddern said, the prepuce seems to act as a barrier against contamination and, by helping maintain a moist environment, enhance sexual pleasure. [Not to mention its own rolling action and specialised nerves.]

According to the study, the only medical justification for circumcision is to treat boys or men with penile abnormalities.


ABC News (Australia)
January 11, 2010

Men treated after botched circumcisions

Three young Aboriginal men have been hospitalised after a circumcision ceremony went wrong.

The men were admitted to the Tennant Creek [Northern Territory] hospital on December 30, and spent four days in hospital with severe lacerations.

Jeff Warner from the Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation says he is disappointed Aboriginal elders did not ensure health staff were present at the ceremony. ...

(to the rest - if this link fails, contact us)

A health department spokesman says only one of the men was aged under 18, and the Department of Families and Children has been notified.



9 News (Australia)
January 10, 2010

Boys 'mutilated in circumcision ritual'

Three teenage Aboriginal boys have been left mutilated after an initiation ceremony circumcision in the Northern Territory was conducted by elders suspected of being drunk, a report says.

The three boys spent three days in hospital suffering severe lacerations after the botched procedure in a camp outside of Tennant Creek, 500km north of Alice Springs, the Daily Telegraph reports.

The boys, under the age of 16, were reportedly embarrassed to come into the Tennant Creek hospital for fear of being seen by a female doctor or nurse.

The circumcision ceremony, which took place on December 30, was conducted without anaesthetic and described as "brutal" by a local resident who reported the story.

There have also been concerns that young men are being taken away by elders against their will and forced to take part in the initiation ceremony.

[But there are no concenrs when babies are taken awy by doctors against their will and forced to take part in the circumcision operation....]


January 5, 2010

Parents Face Charges for Tattooing Six of Their Young Children

By Ruth Manuel-Logan

Patty Jo Marsh and her husband, Jacob Bartels, are facing child cruelty charges for tattooing six of the seven children that live in their home. The youngest child tattooed was 10 years old. The Georgia parents don't see anything wrong with placing permanent marks on the children, particularly because they say they barely broke the skin and changed needles with each marking.

"We didn't even break the skin barely," said Marsh, "they are very tiny, just through a few layers, on the top. They will fade away, that's how minuscule this is." ...

(to the rest - if this link fails, contact us)

State laws in Georgia prohibit the tattooing of minors. Marsh and her husband claim they were not aware of such laws. The mother does contend, though, that the children begged for the tattoos, and as the children's parent, she should have a right to do what she wants, "Shouldn't I have say so over what goes on in my child's life?" asked Marsh. "I have custody of my child, I'm not going to hurt my child."

Marsh and Bartels were arrested when the mother of another child discovered a tattoo on the couple's daughter's hand and contacted police. The couple faces multiple charges, including child endangerment and cruelty to children. ... The seven children were removed from the home temporarily, but Marsh says her children were released back to her under a parent plan until the case heads to court. ...

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