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June 22, 2018

Judge Strikes Defenses in Botched Circumcision Case

Clayton County [Georgia] State Court Judge Shalonda Jones-Parker wrote that a doctor and nurse at a Riverdale pediatric clinic had a duty to preserve tissue accidentally sliced from an infant's penis.

by Greg Land

A Clayton County judge struck the defenses of a Riverdale medical practice and a doctor and nurse as a sanction for spoliation after determining that the severed tip of an infant’s penis—which had been stored in a refrigerator following an allegedly botched circumcision—was discarded after it became known that litigation was underway.

The order by State Court Judge Shalonda Jones-Parker said the destruction of the tissue, along with the clinic’s cleaning and returning to service a medical clamp used in the procedure, deprived the child’s mother of evidence vital to her case.

The judge’s ruling spared the clinic’s owner from discipline, saying that, while a jury might find she “acted to prevent plaintiff from knowing about the severed tissue,” there was no “adequate proof that she personally participated in this decision.”

A co-defendant pediatrician and her practice were not sanctioned.


The case involves a 2013 incident when [the plaintiff] took her 18-day-old boy to Life Cycle for a circumcision that Jones—a certified nurse midwife—performed using a hinged metal device known as a Mogen clamp. [The Mogen Company went out of business in 2010 after losing $11 million in lawsuits to the families of boys damaged by Mogen clamps. The clamp has not yet been recalled.]

After the circumcision, the baby was bleeding profusely, according to court filings, and the midwife summoned Dr. Brian Register. According to plaintiff’s pleadings, Register advised using pressure and silver nitrate sticks to stop the bleeding.

After consulting with the clinic’s owner, Anne Sigouin, Register called Willis’ treating pediatrician, Abigail Kamishlian, and told her that the glans—the rounded tip of the penis—“had been severed during circumcision.”

The midwife told the mother a certain of bleeding was normal and that no emergency care was needed unless it continued. She advised the mother to take the baby to Kamishlian the next day.

The bleeding continued and that night Willis took the boy to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she “learned that a portion of the glans of her infant’s penis had been amputated and could not be restored,” the complaint said.

Jones, the midwife, had placed the severed tissue in a biohazard bag and put it a refrigerator, where it remained for a period of time between several weeks to two months before it was discarded.

According to a transcript, the owner, Sigouin, knew from a conversation with the mother shortly after the circumcision that litigation was likely to ensue.

Neither Willis nor her lawyers learned of the existence of the tissue until long after it was thrown out, their filings said.

Willis filed a medical malpractice suit against Life Cycle, Jones, Register and Sigouin, as well as Kamishlian and her practice, Daffodil Pediatric and Family Medical Services, in 2014. Among her claims was an assertion that the amputated tissue could have been reattached if emergency care had been sought promptly.

Earlier this year, the plaintiff moved for sanctions, arguing that the destruction of the tissue and failure to preserve the Mogen clamp constituted spoliation of evidence.

The defense argued that the tissue issue was a “red herring” involving a “small piece of glans tissue [that] was inadvertently removed.”

“No physician or other medical provider ever requested the tissue, notified these defendants that they needed the tissue, or inquired as to how the injury occurred or whether the tissue remained on site,” said a defense response to the sanctions motion. “However, despite the lack of tissue, plaintiff has obtained an expert who has purported to opine that re-attachment of the tissue would have been possible, even without seeing the tissue.”

As to the Mogen clamp, the defense said it was one of several identical devices cleaned, sterilized and returned to service as “in accordance with the office’s usual and customary method of cleaning and sterilizing medical equipment following circumcisions.”

In her June 6 order striking the defenses Life Cycle, Jones and Register, Jones-Parker wrote that, as health care providers, they had a duty to preserve both the clamp and the tissue.

After the circumcision, “the Life Cycle defendants were aware that the plaintiff was very upset regarding her baby’s penis to the extent that she had to be physically separated from defendant Jones,” Jones-Parker said.

...the boy, now 4, has undergone several surgeries in an effort to repair the damage from the circumcision, with more treatment being considered for the boy’s urethra.

[Attorney for the plaintiff Jonathan] Johnson said the boy’s medical bills totaled more than $70,000 so far.

The Local (Denmark)

June 1, 2018

Danish circumcision ban [age-restriction] to go to parliament

A petition calling for a ban on [no, an age-restriction of] male circumcision in Denmark will now go to parliament after organisers said Friday it had attracted more than the 50,000 signatures required.

"We're really happy, but now the real work begins. It's an important but small step," said Lena Nyhus of the Intact Denmark group told news agency Ritzau.

The petition however faces little chance of success because it has not attracted support from any of the main political parties, though the Socialist People's Party has voiced its support.

In Denmark, citizens can require parliament to debate an issue by gathering a minimum of 50,000 signatures.

The petition, which cites the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, calls for [up to] a six-year prison sentence for those carrying out circumcisions on boys under the age of 18, unless there is a medical reason.

The same penalty has existed since 2003 for the internationally condemned practice of excision, or female genital mutilation.

"Society has a special obligation to protect the fundamental rights of the child until they've reached an age and maturity where they can take on this responsibility themselves," the petition reads.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 circumcisions are carried out in Denmark per year, according to health officials.

The ritual removal of a boy's foreskin is practiced by a majority of Jews and Muslims.

The Jewish community has protested against the petition, saying the ritual has been practiced in Denmark without any problems for more than 400 years.

Earlier story

National Secular Society (UK)

May 29, 2018

NSS criticises EU leaders’ unqualified backing for religious rituals

The National Secular Society has criticised two senior EU politicians after they said they would oppose restrictions on rituals such as genital cutting and religious animal slaughter.

According to Arutz Sheva, the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani called for the preservation of "the religious identity of Europe's citizens" during a speech at a synagogue in Brussels last week.

At the same event Frans Timmermans, the first vice-president of the European Commission, said the commission would "not tolerate" legislation which would limit kosher slaughter or circumcision.

Tajani said the European Parliament had "brought discussion of religion back to the political discourse" and would "protect religious freedom".

"Europe will not achieve integration and unity among its citizens as long as it limits or bans the religious community from fulfilling its religious commandments, such as circumcision and kosher slaughter.

"Only by protecting their rights and preserving their identities will every citizen have personal security, with the unity and equality which lead to tranquil lives. This is what Europe is based on."

Timmermans said the commission was "more determined than ever to fight for the undisturbed continuation of Jewish tradition in Europe".

"We cannot act indifferently towards the leaders and commandments of religion.

"I ask you again to inform us of any information from your communities on the subject of systematic verbal incitement in European Union member countries. We will not tolerate any legislation or legal initiatives against religious laws, including kosher slaughter and circumcision, which would limit the religious rights of Europe's citizens." 

[The term "religious rights" blurs the distinction between beliefs, which are sacrosanct, and practices, which are rightly restricted when they infringe on the rights of others.]

Both men were awarded prizes for making a "unique contribution to the protection of religious rights, and their consistent and determined fight against anti-Semitism" at the event. Both made reference to the Holocaust during their speeches.

NSS spokesperson Chris Sloggett said the comments "appear to suggest religious freedom should be an unqualified right which belongs only to some".

"If laws are to achieve their stated aims they must apply to all citizens in the relevant jurisdictions. Giving special exemptions to the most assertive within religious communities is often the path of least resistance but it undermines legitimate efforts to protect human – and animal – rights.

"It's particularly alarming that speeches which focused on the horror of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust should stray into this kind of territory. It's not only utterly erroneous to conflate those who argue that children deserve bodily integrity or animals should be treated humanely with those who have persecuted Jewish people for centuries. It actively undermines efforts to tackle anti-Semitism."

The NSS campaigns for a gender-neutral age of consent for non-therapeutic genital cutting. In recent months we've called on the government to follow the lead of lawmakers in Iceland who proposed a law along these lines.

We also campaign for an end to the religious exemption from animal welfare laws that allows for animals to be slaughtered without prior stunning in the UK. Last year we welcomed a move in Belgium's Walloon region to ban non-stun slaughter of animals.

The Daily Star

May 21, 2018

Sandra Bullock under fire for controversial beauty treatment – involving babies' foreskin

by Nadia Mendoza

During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show last week, Sandra Bullock spoke about ‘penis facials’.

As the interview unfolded, host Ellen, 60, pushed Sandra, 53, on what exactly she meant by this.

The Speed actress went on to explain that beauticians are now using “an extraction from a piece of skin that came from a young person, far, far away, and they somehow figured out how to extract… ”

As she began to stutter, Ellen jumped in: “It's foreskin from a Korean baby. That's what it is.”

The episode caught the eye of YouTube star and documentary maker, Riyadh Khalaf, who annihilated the Hollywood star’s laid-back approach to the gravity of the situation.

Tweeting to his 46,000 followers, he wrote: “Rich woman laughs while she admits using the circumcised foreskins of non-consenting baby boys in facials so that she can look good.

“Can you imagine if she said she used the clitoral hood of baby girls? Would it get the same lol-tastic response?”

Riyadh, who has an impressive 365k YouTube subscribers, continued: “Self elected circumcision: Fine. Circumcision for medical reasons: Also fine.

“Circumcision without the baby boy's consent is never right.

“Several studies show physical and psychological damage including PTSD symptoms, sexual dysfunction and unrepairable mutilation of the penis.

“The trivialisation of infant male circumcision is troubling and the misinformation that it’s a ‘useless flap of skin’ is simply wrong.

“It contains thousands of irreparable nerve endings, protects an incredibly delicate part of the body and is the boy’s CHOICE to keep or not.”

Within moments, the tweets received praise from fans agreeing with Riyadh’s point of view.

One social networker tweeted: “Why does she stress the point that they come from far far away?? Is it okay because they are not American kids?”

While another blasted: “YES. Some people throw a hissy fit if a baby's ears are pierced but don't bat an eye at an irreversible cosmetic procedure on an INFANT. We are quite hypocritical, considering how up in arms we do be re: FGM [Female Genital Mutilation].”

And a third said: “Omg YES. I've tried bringing this up a lot in discussions and people seem to have really accepted it as normality. Nuts. Pun intended.”

ITV This Morning’s resident doctor Dr Ranj Singh also jumped in, tweeting a link to his blog on the non-medical circumcision of male children.

In the piece for Guys Like U, he wrote: “It’s not as harmless as some people may think. I’ve seen cases where it has gone horribly wrong leading to permanent disfigurement.

“I’ve seen instances where babies have almost bled to death, or even worse, died because of severe infections as a result.

“However, some of my medical colleagues will still justify it.”

He continued: “And for those people who may question what the big fuss is about, ask why being ‘cut’ or ‘uncut’ is even an issue amongst certain groups.

“There’s a reason certain hook-up apps ask about it. It’s not just about appearance or preference. It’s part of a person’s sexual identity. [Good point!]

“It’s not just a redundant bit of skin, but part of a sexual organ. There are whole movements of men internationally who feel like they have been mutilated, and it has affected them psychologically and socially, as well as the obvious physical results.

“They would agree that this practice is totally uncalled for and socially unjust.

“I think it’s about time we had some serious debate around this issue. Why do we refer to FGM as unacceptable, but are willing to tolerate ‘MGM’?”

Back in 2013, Oprah Winfrey came under fire for endorsing SkinMedica face creams as the controversial lotion is made from using foreskin fibroblasts.

The penis facial, popular with Cate Blanchett, is the colloquial name given to a beauty treatment that uses epidermal growth factor (EGF) serum.

The EGF uses stem cells are indeed from Korean babies' foreskins.

Stem cells are often used in beauty products to brighten and regenerate skin.

The Grapevine

April 26, 2018

Ban On Circumcision In Iceland To Be Dismissed In Parliament

by Alice Demurtas

The Judicial Affairs and Educational Committee will ask the Icelandic Parliament to dismiss the bill on a male child circumcision ban proposed months ago by MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, Visir reports.

The bill, which has sparked international interest and debate, was intended to expand the laws on circumcision to protect the interest of young girls and boys in Iceland. During the past few months, about 133 letters have been sent to Parliament from individuals and associations, both for and against the bill.

Religious leaders in Iceland and across the world have spoken against the ban, asserting that it could alienate Muslim and Jewish communities, as well as increase the risk of infections in case individuals decide to carry the procedure in unsafe and unprofessional environments. On the contrary, 400 Icelandic doctors have spoken in support of the bill, while Icelandic nurses and midwives have also sent a list of 1,325 signatures to Parliament to support the bill, although most Icelanders were divided in their opinions of the bill.

On March 1, the bill went to the Judicial Affairs and Education Committee to be reviewed, but it’s only now that the Committee has decided to dismiss the matter from Parliament. “If the Committee decides to refer the matter to the government, a specific decision will be made, and for me the purpose of this bill will be fulfilled,” Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir explains. “That purpose was always to protect the interest of the child.”

According to Silja Dögg, who had not heard directly about Committee’s decision, a number of different perspectives on the matter arose during the reviewing process, which will have to be inspected further. Snce there are only few days left before the MPs go on summer leave, however, Silja doubts that there will be a chance to go over the bill in a thorough manner.

“April is almost over so I doubt that the Committee will review the matter as needed,” Silja says. “If this will eventually be the conclusion of the Committee, to refer the ban to the government instead, I’m sure they’ll have the necessary tools and knowledge to review all the details about the matter that come up in the bill.”

Amongst the areas of concern that have arisen in public discussions about the bill is that the bill does specifically mention Muslims and Jewish people as being those who practice male child circumcision. In addition, while the bill ostensibly is about child body autonomy, no such bill to protect intersex children from cosmetic surgery on their genitals without their consent exists. Further, while the circumcision ban bill cites the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, not only do the surgeries on intersex children violate that Convention, Iceland’s own asylum seeker decisions have often times violated this Convention as well.

Earlier story

The Local

April 24, 2018

Denmark's Liberals to oppose circumcision ban

Denmark’s ruling Liberal Party has come out against a ban on the circumcision of young boys, meaning the controversial citizen’s proposal is unlikely to make it through parliament.

"It has been difficult today, and if we had taken the easy route, we would have said ‘yes’ to a ban,” the party’s group chairman, Søren Gade, told the Berlingske newspaper after a long-drawn out meeting of party MPs to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the party’s political spokesman, told the paper that views had been split across the party.

“Many have veered both for and against. There are really a lot of arguments both for and against, and many among us held different views.”

The citizen's proposal for the ban had received 44,685 votes at the time of writing, bringing it within a whisker of the 50,000 it needs to force a vote in the Danish parliament.

The proposal was made by Lena Nyhus, chairwoman of Intact Denmark, an anti-circumcision pressure group.

“If people want to let themselves be circumcised then they should have the opportunity to make that choice as an adult. Otherwise, they ought to be allowed to grow up with their body intact,” Nyhus said when she launched the petition in January.

Opinion polls in the past have found that close to three quarters of Danes support a ban on the circumcision of boys and the Danish Medical Association has also called for it to be illegal under the age of 18.

But the proposal has caused great disquiet among Jews and Muslims in Denmark with Mosaiske, which represents Jews in Denmark this month warning in a fact sheet that the proposal “threatens the right of religious minorities to exist on a par with their fellow citizens”.

The opposition Social Democrats and the populist Danish People's Party have both come out in opposition to the ban. The Liberal Alliance and the Conservative party plan to give their MPs a free vote. The Socialist People’s Party (SF) is the only party which is requiring its MPs to vote in favour.

“We think it’s very simple,” SF health spokesperson Kirsten Normann Andersen said earlier this month. “We had no problems deciding to forbid female circumcision, we had no problem scrapping the right for parents to smack children, and now it’s time to get to grips with this issue.”

Earlier news

The Local (Denmark)

April 19, 2018

Danish political party wants minimum age for male circumcision

Opposition party the Socialist People’s Party (SF) says it will vote in favour of any proposal to ban circumcision of boys.

Denmark’s three largest parties – the Social Democrats, Danish People’s Party and the Liberal party – are yet to take a firm stance over the issue.

But SF, which currently has seven seats in Denmark’s parliament, says it would vote in favour of a minimum age for male circumcision, reports Radio24syv.

“If we are to vote on a minimum age for circumcising boys, and I think that will happen, then SF will vote in favour,” health spokesperson Kirsten Normann Andersen told the radio station.

Around 37,000 people in Denmark have so far signed a petition to parliament asking for a minimum age of 18 to be introduced for male circumcision.

That is a sizeable proportion of the amount required – 50,000 – for the issue to be discussed in parliament, provided the petition is considered to be in keeping with the constitution.

Andersen said that SF’s position would be to support the proposal.

“We think it’s very simple. We had no problems deciding to forbid female circumcision, we had no problem scrapping the right for parents to smack children, and now it’s time to get to grips with this issue,” she said.

The three main parties have so far declined to confirm their stance.

Danish People’s Party spokesperson for health Liselott Blixt said she needed more information on the subject and would delay making a decision until a parliamentary consultation on April 20th.

Several high-profile ministers, including Minister of Justice Søren Pape Poulsen, Defence Minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen, Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, Minister for Culture and Church Mette Bock and Minister for Health Ellen Trane Nørby are all expected to attend.

Blixt said that her party would vote as a block on any position it takes up, while the Liberal Alliance, Conservative and Alternative parties have all said their MPs will vote individually.

Earlier story

The Sunday Times

April 8, 2018, 2018

Mother calls for ban on circumcision

A woman is to prosecute a doctor and wants boys to have the same legal protection as girls

by Nicholas Hellen, Social Affairs Editor

A mother whose baby son was in such pain after he was circumcised that he could not wear a nappy said boys should be given the same protection as girls get from female genital mutilation (FGM).

The mother, who is taking legal action to prosecute the doctor who carried out the surgery without her consent, said: “For FGM they can stop people taking daughters out of this country but they won’t protect boys in this country.”

Her lawyer, Saimo Chahal QC, a partner at the London law firm Bindmans, is seeking to challenge a Crown Prosecution Service decision taken last November not to prosecute.

[The rest is behind a paywall]

Earlier story

The Reykjavík Grapevine

April 4, 2018

Proposed Child Circumcision Ban In Iceland Prompts Diplomatic Row

by Paul Fontaine

Icelandic consulates in numerous countries have received concerted criticism regarding the proposed ban on child circumcision. The Foreign Ministry believes the ban could have a negative impact on Iceland’s image.

The proposed ban, which still has yet to be voted on, has drawn international attention, and supporters and detractors alike have actively offered their perspectives. RÚV now reports that feedback regarding the bill has also reached the diplomatic level.

Icelandic consulates around the world have received considerable feedback regarding the ban, especially in Germany, the United States and Britain. None of this feedback has been positive.

The majority of these objections come from the point of view of religious freedom, but not all; some also cite cultural reasons. For example, although the practice is in decline in the US, the vast majority of boys in America are circumcised, to a degree that far outweighs the number of Jewish people and Muslims in the country.

“We’re not talking about a small group of people, but rather about one third of humanity,” Matthías G. Pálsson of Iceland’s Foreign Ministry wrote. [This would be relevant if it were a travel ban on cut men that was being proposed.]  “In light of this, it cannot be ruled out that this matter could cast Iceland in a negative light and have an effect on Icelandic interests, in both the short term and the long term.” [By the same token, the many men who hate being cut might then feel more positively about Iceland.]

The bill has yet to be voted on, and might not even see a final vote this parliamentary session.

Earlier story

Sonnenseite (Baden Baden)


Somaliland stellt weibliche genitalverstümmelung unter strafe

Wichtiger Erfolg im Kampf gegen weibliche Genitalverstümmelung: Die qualvolle und brutale Praxis soll in Kürze in Somaliland unter Strafe gestellt werden.

Nach Angaben der SOS-Kinderdörfer weltweit wird das Parlament in den nächsten Wochen ein entsprechendes Gesetz verabschieden. ...

Bereits im Februar hatten die religiösen Führer Somalilands ein Edikt erlassen, das die beiden schlimmsten Formen weiblicher Genitalverstümmelung verbietet. Mustefa Adow betont: "Das Edikt hat zwar keine rechtliche Durchsetzungskraft, aber das Wort der Geistlichen zählt viel!" Dennoch gehe die Erklärung nicht weit genug: "Jede Form von FGM ist eine Verletzung der Menschenrechte. Man kann nicht die eine Form von Gewalt ablehnen und die andere zulassen."

Weiterhin Aufklärung notwendig

Auch viele andere Länder wie Ägypten, Benin, Burkina Faso, Elfenbeinküste oder Eritrea haben in den letzten Jahrzehnten Gesetze gegen FGM erlassen. Mustefa Adow sagt: "Trotzdem dürfen wir uns keiner Illusion hingeben: Häufig scheitert es an der Umsetzung! Die größte Herausforderung ist es, die Menschen zu überzeugen. Es wird weiterhin viel Aufklärung und konkrete Unterstützung nötig sein, um die grausame Praxis zu beenden."

200 Millionen Mädchen und Frauen sind beschnitten

Weltweit seien aktuell 200 Millionen Mädchen und Frauen beschnitten. FGM werde in etwa 30 Ländern in Afrika, dem Mittleren Osten und Asien angewandt. Die weibliche Beschneidung hat keinerlei gesundheitlichen Nutzen, betroffene Frauen leiden oft ihr Leben lang unter Schmerzen, Infektionen, Zysten oder Komplikationen bei der Geburt. Immer wieder kommt es auch zu Todesfällen.



April 2, 2018

Somalia puts female genital mutilation under penalty

Important success in the fight against female genital mutilation: the agonizing and brutal practice is to be punished shortly in Somalia.

According to the SOS Children's Villages around the world, Parliament will adopt a corresponding law in the coming weeks. ...

As early as February, the religious leaders of of Somaliland had issued an edict prohibiting the two worst forms of female genital mutilation. Mustefa Adow emphasizes: "The edict has no legal force, but the word of the clergy counts a lot!" Nevertheless, the explanation does not go far enough: "Any form of FGM is a violation of human rights. One cannot reject one form of violence and allow the other. "

Further clarification necessary

Many other countries such as Egypt, Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Eritrea have also adopted laws against FGM in recent decades. Mustefa Adow says: "Nevertheless, we must not give ourselves any illusion: it often fails to [be]  implement[ed]! The biggest challenge is to convince people. There will still be a lot of clarification and concrete support needed to end the cruel practice."

200 million girls and women are circumcised

Currently 200 million girls and women are circumcised worldwide. FGM is used in about 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Female circumcision has no health benefits, affected women often suffer their lives in pain, infections, cysts or complications at birth. Again and again there are deaths.


The Deccan Chronicle (India)

April 1, 2018

Hyderabad: 11-month-old child dies after failed surgery

Hyderabad: A circumcision operation went wrong with the death of an 11-month-old child Kashi, a son of Gowtham from Hyderabad. The child was admitted on Friday evening for the operation but succumbed on Saturday afternoon. More than 100 members protested outside Niloufer Hospital on Saturday night and the police was called in to control the situation.

A senior doctor at Niloufer Hospital on condition of ann-oymity explained, “Circumcision operation was performed to remove the foreskin that was covering the tip of the penis. There was no bleeding or any other complication seen. We suspect that drugs have led to complications and death. There was no mistake from the surgical side as it would have come to notice immediately in the first two hours. There was no bleeding or else it would have led to an alarm and control measures would have been taken up. There is an issue with the drugs or the medicines that have been given in the post-operative care.”

Doctors state that they regularly get circumcision cases [cases with complications?] in the hospital and this is one of those cases where it has turned out to be fatal.

The Reykjavík Grapevine

March 22, 2018

American Anti-Defamation League Threatens Iceland Because Of Circumcision Ban

by Alice Demurtas

The Anti-Defamation League, or ADL, known as the most powerful Jewish human rights organisation in the US, has recently vouched to turn the world’s attention to the subject of growing extremism in Iceland if the circumcision ban is approved in Parliament, Vísir reports.

Like many before him, CEO of ADL Jonathan A. Greenblatt has criticised the bill on the basis of religious freedom and the medical benefits of circumcision. However, he also added that if the bill becomes law, it would have a disruptive effect on the reputation and economy of the country.

“Should Iceland ban male circumcision, making it impossible for Jews and Muslims to raise families in your country [that is at least debatable], we guarantee that Iceland will be celebrated by neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other extremists,” Greenblatt wrote in a letter to the Icelandic Parliament, adding that even though it can be acknowledged that hatred against Jews was not necessarily a force behind this bill, it will nonetheless have great impact on the most prejudiced groups. “They will celebrate the ban as the flrst legislation in Europe since World War II towards making a country Judenrein, free of Jews,” Greenblatt added. [It is Greenblatt alone who is making any connection with Nazis. US Nazis have shown little interest in supporting genital-cutting age-restriction, since they tend to be cut themselves.]

ADL’s influence

But his comments don’t stop there. Greenblatt, who has followed attentively and reported on the development of antisemitism and neo-Nazi groups on social media, stated that Icelanders need to be careful when it comes to the ban and the consequential extremists’ praise of Iceland. Icelanders, he says, must take into consideration the fact that ADL reports attract a lot of attention from the American and international press.

“In the past six months our reports have been published everywhere from the CNN and NBC to The New York Times and The Washington Post,” he explained. Greenblatt reckons in fact that since 28% of tourists coming to Iceland are from North America, it will be an economic disaster if Iceland were connected with the Nazis, as people would gladly stop visiting in order to boycott the country. [This looks very like bullying.]

Neither more nor less significant

Despite the seriousness of Greenblatt’s comments, MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, who created the bill in the first place, seems to be quite uninterested. “These are neither more nor less significant opinions than other people have expressed,” she told Vísir. “But to link the bill to purposeful anti-Semitism is insane. The bill only wants to protect the rights of the child to control his own body, and to make sure that no unnecessary surgery that could potentially harm the child is performed that early.”

Íris Björg Þorvaldsdóttir, an Icelandic nurse who recently founded an organisation called Intact Iceland, which opposes circumcision without medical reasons, also commented on ADL’s remarks. “The question is whether Icelanders will cave in front of such threats,” she said. “Are the rights of a child negotiable as if we were talking about a business agreement? Or are they individuals with certain human rights, as the Convention on the Rights of the Child states?”

Earlier story

The Times

February 27, 2018

Jewish parents shun circumcision

by Kaya Burgess, Religious Affairs Correspondent

Jews are increasingly choosing not to circumcise their sons and to hold a naming ceremony instead, a rabbi claims.

Anti-circumcision campaigners say there is an increasing movement within Judaism to forgo the removal of a baby boy’s foreskin in the brit or bris milah ritual. David Smith, from the Genital Autonomy group, said: “We’ve worked to promote a ceremony called brit shalom, which has a ceremonial element but doesn’t have the circumcision.”

Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead Synagogue, said: “It does happen and is a new phenomenon, a result of parents wanting to have an initiation ceremony into the Jewish faith but without circumcision.”

He said an increase in inter-faith marriage was a factor. “Whereas the Jewish parent is used to circumcision and has 4,000 years of history propelling them along, the non-Jewish parent is not comfortable with it and wants an alternative.”

The rabbi said that a form of welcome ceremony traditionally used for baby girls was becoming more popular. Many parents chose the ceremony in addition to circumcision, but he added: “The major celebration has shifted to the less medical blessing in synagogue, which never used to occur for boys.”

JTA (Jewish Telegraphic Agency)

February 23, 2018

500 Icelandic physicians back bill to outlaw circumcision

(JTA) — Hundreds of physicians in Iceland and some of Belgium’s top doctors came out in support of a bill proposing to criminalize nonmedical circumcision of boys in the Scandinavian island nation.

The approximately 500 Icelandic physicians who backed the bill that was submitted last month to the parliament cited the World Medical Association’s Declaration of Helsinki on ethical principles.

“Potential complications should offset the benefits” of male circumcision, “which are few,” the Icelandic physicians wrote in a joint statement published Wednesday.

Advocates of male circumcision include many physicians who believe it reduces the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases and genital infections.

In Belgium, several prominent physicians, including Guy T’Sjoen of Ghent University Hospital, told the De Morgen daily they also support a ban.

“As a physician, I find it very regrettable that we have thousands of unnecessary circumcisions annually of boys who can’t have their say about it,” he said in an interview published Tuesday.

In Denmark, a petition featured on the parliament’s website proposing to ban nonmedical circumcision of boys has received 20,000 signatures out of the 50,000 needed to come up for a parliamentary vote as draft resolution. As per a new law, the petition, which was posted on Feb. 1, will remain active for 180 days.

Throughout Scandinavia, the nonmedical circumcision of boys under 18 is the subject of a debate on children’s rights and religious freedoms. The children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — released a joint declaration in 2013 proposing a ban, though none of these countries has enacted one.

In the debate, circumcision is under attack from right-wing politicians who view it as a foreign import whose proliferation is often associated mostly with Muslim immigration. And it is also opposed by left-wing liberals and atheists [and people of all beliefs and unbeliefs] who denounce it as a primitive form of child abuse.

A similar debate ...
Earlier story


February 21, 2018

Why is the number of male circumcisions declining in Australia?

As Iceland debates whether to outlaw circumcisions of newborn males, SBS News explores why rates have been dropping in Australia.

by Rashida Yosufzai

What is circumcision?

The procedure of removing the foreskin of a newborn male's genitalia has been practised for religious and cultural reasons for centuries. It is a common practice among Jewish, Muslim and some Christian communities but is also undergone for cultural reasons. For Jews and Muslims, the practice is stipulated in religious texts. It's also considered a practice among Indigenous Australian communities.

Benefits vs risks

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says neonatal, infant and child circumcision is generally safe if it is conducted by experienced providers in hygienic conditions, but there have been levels of risk outlined in some studies.

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) says while there is evidence that shows some health benefits, there are also risks from the medical procedure. It considers the potential health benefits are not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision of all infant males.

The RACP cites recent studies as showing circumcision may provide protection against urinary tract infections in infancy. Also in countries where sexually transmitted disease is high, the procedure can also reduce the risk of HIV/Aids.

How many people are circumcised?

In a 2010 report, the WHO estimated one in three males worldwide were circumcised. In Australia, it said 59 per cent of men were circumcised.

But there is evidence that is substantially declining among new generations.

Based on Medicare records, there were 6309 newborn males circumcised in the 2016/17 financial year.

That is a major drop from the 19,663 circumcisions of those under six months of age from 2007/08.

The RACP paediatrics and child health division's Professor Paul Colditz says the rate was four times greater a decade earlier, and the numbers have been dropping rapidly.

"Only four per cent of boys are being circumcised (today), so I guess parents are really making up their own minds on the basis of the available evidence," he told SBS News.

However, there may be some procedures not captured by the data if it is performed by religious figures, given the statistics are based on Medicare claims.

But Professor Colditz says that would be a fairly small number in relation to the 6000 babies circumcised in the past year.

"There will be a small number done by religious figures who may be very experienced," he said.

Why are rates dropping?

Professor Colditz says it is because of two aspects - more informed parents and more fathers not being circumcised themselves.

"The number of new fathers who are no longer circumcised is increasing and therefore if they haven't been circumcised, collectively between the two parents then they're making a decision that they don't feel it will confer any benefit to their son," he said.

Parents were also making up their own minds by researching available evidence.

"We've entered an era where everyone is looking at [it like], 'Is this operation, is this treatment worthwhile, will be effective, what are the risks?'" he said.

“[They're] doing this balance between the potential for any benefits against the potential for any harm and I think the whole of society is getting sophisticated in the way they do this."

Religion Clause

February 17, 2018

No Free Exercise Defense To Charge of Attending Cockfight

posted by Howard Friedman

In United States v. Cruz, (SD NY, Feb. 15, 2018), a New York federal magistrate judge rejected a Free Exercise defense to a charge of knowingly attending a cockfight in violation of 7 USC §2156. The court said in part:

Here, Cruz has failed to make a showing that the act of engaging in animal fighting ventures stems from sincerely held beliefs that are religious in nature. Although Cruz continually refers to the “God given” dominion of man over animals, he does not identify any specific religious tenets or practices that are burdened by the statute. Nor does he identify any religion or denomination from which his beliefs derive. Indeed, in “attest[ing] to the importance of the God given rights of the American farmer,” Cruz cites quotations in which the founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, and Benjamin Franklin, exalted agriculture.... This suggests that Cruz’s beliefs are philosophical or political in nature.

Richard Dawkins comments:

Dawkins: if cockfighting HAD been connected with religious beliefs, it would [not] therefore have been OK. Why should religion ... have any legal status...?

Now, about cock-cutting...

Roya News

February 16, 2018

Jordanian man sues his father for having him circumcised as a baby

A Jordanian man is suing his father for having him circumcised.

The man filed a lawsuit against his parent after claiming that he had used a warlock to circumcise him according to Jewish traditions just one week after he was born, which led to the disfigurement of his penis.

“My father had me circumcised for no legitimate, religious or health reasons, and without consulting with a doctor first,” the distressed man, who works as a lawyer, said.

Circumcision is a common religious practice amongst Jews, Muslims and some Christians. It is the surgical removal of the foreskin, the tissue covering the head (glans) of the penis. [Well, is it religious, or is it surgical? Those are very different things.]

The complainant stressed that his father’s act constitutes an offence that has subjected his penis to bleeding, pain and disfigurement, and deprived him of benefitting from an important part of his body.

“There was neither a legal nor religious valid justification for having me circumcised. This is a hostile crime that every child in this society is subjected to; an inhumane and cruel act.”

The lawyer was adamant that removing that crucial part from his penis has caused him not only physical, but psychological problems as well.

He is now demanding financial compensation from his father, in the first case of its kind in the Kingdom.

Jordanian lawyer Hatem Al Ghuweiri told Roya that what the defendant has done is not a crime punishable by law.

Al Ghuweiri added that the claim is based on something that is performed on a daily basis in Jordanian hospitals and medical centres, and one that is seen identical in necessity to cutting the umbilical cord at birth. [Perfect nonsense of course: the nerveless umbilical cord is cut purely for convenience, and will fall off by itself if it is not cut.]

Kristelight Dagblad

29. januar 2018

Nyt borgerforslag på vej kræver forbud mod omskæring af børn

Fra Ritzau

Det kræver 50.000 underskrifter, hvis et borgerforslag om forbud mod omskæring skal tages op i Folketinget

Omskæring af drenge skal være forbudt, hvis det står til organisationen Intact Denmark - Forening mod børneomskæring.

Derfor har organisationen søndag aften indgivet et borgerforslag til Folketinget, der forslår netop det.

Det fortæller Lena Nyhus, forkvinde i Intact Denmark.

- Det er meget simpelt for os. Det handler om, at man ikke skal skære i raske børn. Så derfor ønsker vi en 18-års aldersgrænse for omskæring.

- Politikerne har ikke rykket på spørgsmålet, så nu gør vi, siger hun.

Næste skridt er, at forslaget skal accepteres, og så bliver det gjort offentligt tilgængeligt på hjemmesiden borgerforslag.dk.

Dernæst skal mindst 50.000 skrive under på forslaget, for at Folketinget er forpligtet til at tage forslaget op. Det skal ske inden for 180 dage.

Lena Nyhus regner ikke med, at det bliver et problem at indsamle de mange tusind underskrifter.

- Selve underskrifterne tror vi bestemt ikke, bliver et problem. Men vi er spændt på, hvordan godkendelsesproceduren er, for vi har af gode grunde ikke aldrig prøvet det her før, siger hun.

Hvis forslaget skulle ende med at blive vedtaget, vil det ifølge forkvinden være "banebrydende".

- Så vil Danmark være foregangsland igen, når det gælder børns rettigheder.

- Det vil være meget stort og meget rørende - især for dem af vores medlemmer, som er personligt berørt og ufrivilligt omskåret, siger hun.

Det er ikke forbudt i Danmark at lade drengebørn omskære. Det er derimod strafbart at omskære piger.

Foreningens forslag går ud på, at der skal være en aldersgrænse på 18 år for omskæring, hvis der ikke er en helbredsmæssig årsag til omskæringen.

Hvis det bliver accepteret af Folketingets administration, vil det være det andet borgerforslag, siden ordningen trådte i kraft onsdag.

Det første forslag ...

Kristelight Daily News

January 28, 2018

New citizens' proposal underway for the prohibition of genital mutilation of children

Ritzau News Agency

It will require 50,000 signatures for a citizens' proposal to ban circumcision to be considered by the Danish Parliament.

Circumcision of boys should be prohibited,  according to the organization Intact Denmark- the Association against child circumcision.

That is why the organization on Sunday night filed a civil proposal to Parliament, which suggests just that.

Lena Nyhus, chairwoman of Intact Denmark, explains:

"It is very simple for us. It's entirely about the fact that you should not cut in healthy children. So that is why we want an 18-year age limit for circumcision.

"Politicians have not moved on the issue, so now we are," she says.

The next step is that the proposal has to be accepted, and then it is made publicly available on the website borgerforslag.dk.

Next, at least 50,000 have to sign the proposal for the Danish Parliament to take the proposal on board. That must happen within 180 days.

Lena Nyhus does not expect that it will be a problem to collect the thousands of signatures.

"The actual signatures, we think, are certainly not a problem. But we are curious as to how the approval procedure goes, because we have not, for good reason, ever tried it here before," she says.

If the proposal were to be adopted, it will be "groundbreaking", according to the Chairwoman.

"So Denmark will be a pioneer again, when it comes to the rights of the child.

"It will be very big and very touching - especially for those of our members who are personally affected [by having been] forcibly circumcised," she says.

It is not banned in Denmark to let boy children be circumcised. On the other hand, it is a crime to circumcise girls.

The Association's proposal is that there should be an age limit of 18 years for circumcision, if there is no medical reason for it.

If it is accepted by the parliamentary administration, it will be the second citizens' proposal since the scheme came into force on Wednesday.

The first proposals ...

Reykjavík Grapevine

January 31, 2018

Iceland Wants To Ban Circumcision Of Young Boys

by Valur Grettison

MP’s from five different political party’s want in Iceland to ban the circumcision of young boys in the country, RÚV reports. The spokesperson for the bill is Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, a member of the Progressive Party, which is in the government coalition in Iceland. Among other individuals presenting the bill are members of the Pirate party, the Left Greens, which is also in coalition, and the People’s Party.

Circumcising women has been illegal in Iceland since 2005, but until now there have been no laws in regard to the circumcision of boys. This is possibly because circumsicion is not a tradition in Iceland, a country where the Muslim and the Jewish communities in Iceland are very small.

Some countries have restrictions when it comes to circumcising boys, but even in those countries the legal framework can often be very unclear.

Perfecting the law

The bill in question states that the Nordic Ombudsman For Children consider it important to ban parents from circumcising boys altogether first and foremost to protect their health.

In the Icelandic bill the only exception for circumcising a boy would be precisely to protect a child’s health. In all other circumstances, however, the practice is a clear violation of Human Rights against children who are to small to have a say in this. When it comes to religious reasons, then, the practice would be strictly banned and punished with up to six years of prison for personal assault.

Detroit Free Press

January 15, 2018

Most serious charge in female genital mutilation case is dismissed

by Detroit Free Press staff

The most serious charge against two metro Detroit doctors accused in the genital cutting of numerous minor girls as part of a religious tradition has been dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Sunday night that a charge of conspiracy to transport a minor "with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity" against Dr. Jumana Nagarwala and Dr. Fakhruddin Attar be dismissed, agreeing with the defense argument that even if female genital mutilation were proven, it would not meet the definition for "sexual activity."

That charge was the only one in the indictment that could have led to a sentence of life in prison.

Nagarwala and Attar are two of eight defendants charged in the case.

They are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, which has a mosque in Farmington Hills. The sect practices female circumcision and believes it is a religious rite of passage that involves only a minor "nick."

The other defendants include four mothers accused of subjecting their daughters to the procedure, and Attar’s wife, who is accused of holding the girls’ hands during the procedures and lying to investigators about the procedures.

Read the complete ruling:

Earlier story


January 12, 2018

Infant and Parents Sue Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. for Alleged Forced Retraction of Foreskin

An uncircumcised infant male, whose foreskin allegedly was forcibly retracted during the insertion of a urinary catheter, and his parents have sued a nurse, a nursing supervisor, and Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. for alleged battery, nursing malpractice, the intentional infliction of emotional distress, and other torts, David J. Llewellyn of Johnson & Ward reports.

An intact (uncircumcised) infant and his parents have sued Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. for the alleged forced retraction of his foreskin while undergoing urinary catheterization. The case, Parks, et al. v. Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, et al., was filed on January 10, 2018 in the State Court of Fulton County, Georgia and has been assigned Civil Action File No. 18EV000194. It may be accessed at https://publicrecordsaccess.fultoncountyga.gov/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0. The Complaint alleges that Leon Jude Parks, a non-circumcised male less than two months of age, was taken by his mother Cassie N. Parks to the Emergency Room of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite in Atlanta, Georgia on February 5, 2016 with a complaint of vomiting. The Complaint contends that, as is the case with virtually all intact infant males, his foreskin was attached to the head of his penis and could not be pulled back. It alleges that the attending ER doctor ordered that blood and urine samples be drawn, that two nurses came to perform the procedures, and that one of those, Bethany P. Sorrells, RN, took off Jude's diaper in order to insert a urinary catheter to obtain the urine sample. It further alleges that without asking permission to do so and without warning, she forcibly tore and retracted his foreskin all the way back off of the head of the penis, which caused the penis to become bloody and caused Jude to experience severe physical and mental pain and suffering. In addition, it alleges that when Mrs. Parks protested that Nurse Sorrells was not supposed to forcibly retract the foreskin, Nurse Sorrells insisted that Mrs. Parks should be retracting the foreskin at every diaper change and engaged in an argument with her that caused her to leave the room in distress. It further alleges that thereafter a nursing supervisor argued with Mrs. Parks and insisted that such forced retraction of the foreskin was hospital "protocol," that this was done in every case, that Nurse Sorrells had done nothing wrong, and that leaving Jude uncircumcised left him open for infection. The Complaint alleges that the comments by Nurse Sorrells and the nursing supervisor constituted the intentional infliction of emotional distress upon Mrs. Parks.

The Complaint alleges that Nurse Sorrells committed a battery upon Jude, that she committed nursing malpractice by tearing the foreskin from the glans, that Nurse Sorrells and the nurse supervisor intentionally inflicted emotional distress upon Mrs. Parks, that Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. willfully, wantonly, and recklessly established policies and procedures that requires its nurses to forcibly retract boys’ foreskins, and that Children's negligently failed to protect Jude from the negligence of Nurse Sorrells. The claim of nursing malpractice is supported by an Affidavit of Sylvia Joy Zakusilov, R.N., an ER nurse from Indiana.

The Plaintiffs are represented by David J. Llewellyn, a trial lawyer with the firm of Johnson & Ward in Atlanta, Georgia. A graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law, he has been a member of the Georgia Bar for 38 years. Mr. Llewellyn specializes in the representation of the victims of genital injury, including wrongful circumcisions and botched circumcisions, both infant and adult. He has represented numerous such victims throughout the United States. He has made several radio and TV appearances and has written and spoken widely on the subject of circumcision both in the U.S. and abroad.

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