Saturday, June 30, 2012

BERLIN: Jewish hosptial suspends circumcision

June 29, 2012

Berlin hospital suspends circumcisions after court ruling

Berlin's Jewish Hospital will suspend circumcisions after a German court ruled this week that performing the procedure on religious grounds is unlawful, a hospital spokesman said Friday.

"We are suspending circumcisions until the legal position is clear," Gerhard Nerlich told AFP, citing head of internal medicine Kirstof Graf.

The hospital performs 300 circumcisions a year, a third of which are for religious reasons and the remainder due to medical concerns.

"We regularly performed circumcisions before this ruling but we don't have the legal freedom to do so any more," said Nerlich, adding that two procedures had already been cancelled.

Earlier on Friday German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle weighed in the debate, saying the country protected religious freedom and traditions.

"The ruling on circumcision has provoked annoyance internationally," Westerwelle wrote on his official Twitter account.

"We have to be clear: religious traditions are protected in Germany," he added.


Westerwelle was also quoted in the Bild's online edition on Thursday saying that Germany "is an open and tolerant country where religious freedom is well established and where religious traditions like circumcision as an expression of religious diversity are protected." [Cutting infant male genitals may be "an expression of religious diversity" but it also expresses many other things, none defensible.]
Earlier story

PASSAU, GERMANY: "This is not aimed at the Jews" - Jurist

June 29, 2012

German verdict's purpose is to delay circumcision, not ban it, jurist says

Holm Putzke, law professor at Passau University, says 'Nobody wants to ban religious circumcision in Islam and Judaism, but it should be decided by those who undergo it.'

A widely criticized German court verdict on religious circumcision this week aims only to delay the act, not ban it, and is not directed against any faith, a jurist with a leading role in the legal debate said on Friday.

The operation does serious bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it, said Holm Putzke, law professor at Passau University in southern Germany.

Using arguments Putzke has published in recent years, a court in the western city of Cologne ruled on Tuesday that the circumcision there of a Muslim boy who suffered post-operative bleeding had violated a German law against causing bodily harm.

Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and Protestant leaders in Germany denounced the ruling as a serious intrusion on religious freedom. Even Germany's foreign minister spoke out, saying such faith traditions must be allowed in a tolerant modern society.

"I can understand that this verdict has irritated people around the world, but this irritation can be resolved if people look at the reasons for it," Putzke told Reuters by telephone.

"Nobody wants to ban religious circumcision in Islam and Judaism, not at all," he said. "It should just be decided by those who undergo it."

Some German media initially reported the verdict applied only to Jews, which may have added to the emotion of some first reactions, he said. Suggesting opposition to circumcision was aimed against Jews was dishonest, he said.

Germany is home to about 4 million Muslims and 120,000 Jews.

Jews circumcise male infants eight days after birth to recall their covenant with God. The time for Muslim circumcision varies according to family, region and country.

The Cologne court ruling said the four-year-old boy in the case was not old enough to consent to have part of his body removed permanently and his parents should have let him decide when he got older. It gave no minimum age for this.

Putzke said an article he published five years ago in a German medical journal led to lively debates among doctors, especially those called on to perform circumcisions.

"It quickly became clear that a large majority of doctors in clinics objected to medically unnecessary circumcisions," he said. "They said they went against the Hippocratic Oath."

The doctor who treated the boy for post-operative bleeding reported the case to the police, leading them to bring charges against the person who performed the faulty circumcision.

The Cologne judge consulted academic articles in legal and medical journals before making his decision, Putzke said.

"This is not simply a verdict from some misguided court," he added. "Somebody sat down and thought long and hard about the fundamental legal rights involved."

The verdict, which is valid only in the Cologne area, could "send a signal," he said, but it was not clear if other courts would follow this example. He did not know of any similar cases before other courts in Germany.


He hoped religious communities would be open to debating the issue and not refuse to consider any change to their traditions.

Putzke expressed surprise that many people had written to him after the court verdict was announced to support his view.

"I've received thousands of emails in the past few days, from all over the world," he said. "The most remarkable thing is that the emails from Israel were the most balanced and moderate."

Earlier story

Thursday, June 28, 2012

GERMANY: "The judgement is final" - Jurist

Turkish German News (translated from German)
June 26, 2012

Opinion: Doctors should refuse to perform religious circumcision

The District Court of Cologne has recently ruled that the circumcision of boys, even for religious reasons, shall henceforth be considered a crime. ... Criminal law professor Dr. Holm Putzke of the University of Passau evaluates the judgment in an interview for the German Turkish News. For him, the ruling is an appeal to parents to deliberate whether such interventions are really necessary.

German Turkish News: How do you interpret the ruling of the Cologne Court? Is this a landmark decision?

Holm Putzke: Although the Cologne District Court generally follows prevailing opinion in the legal and medical literature, this ruling does represent an important turning point. For the first time, a court has declared - no ifs and/or buts about it - that medically unnecessary circumcision on non-consenting boys is illegal, and in fact is punishable by law. Prior to this decision, the legal situation was unclear for lack of a clear judicial decision.


German Turkish News: Could you say it's a specific feature of Western democratic societies that the legal right to physical integrity is trumps the right to religious freedom?

Holm Putzke: There's no blanket answer to that. Protecting religious freedom is important and necessary, just as it's essential to protect the physical safety of persons, especially children. It would be a queer understanding of religious freedom if religions were simply allowed to physically injure people in the name of their faith and thereby circumvent the prevailing statutory laws of German society. ...

German Turkish News: What does this ruling now mean for doctors? Should doctors basically refuse to perform circumcisions for religious reasons?

Holm Putzke: Two Munich doctors, Maximilian Stehr and HansGeorg Dietz, collaborated with me on an article in 2008 that was published in the German Medical Journal regarding the criminalization of religious circumcisions on boys. Since then, more and more doctors have refused to participate in medically unnecessary circumcisions of non-consenting boys. This is primarily because the surgery carries risks, and confers absolutely no health benefits in childhood. After the Cologne ruling, doctors can now be threatened with criminal prosecution, and without going into too much detail, the inherent illegality - of the act of circumcising boys who don't need it - will likely impact doctors' liability insurance.

If doctors are presented with a request to perform a religiously-motivated circumcision, they would do well to advise the parents of the legal situation in this country, as well as the risks of surgery itself, and refuse to perform the surgery. At the same time, doctors should clearly point out that circumcision should be postponed until the individual in question can decide about the procedure himself.

German Turkish News: What message does this ruling send to the religious communities?
Holm Putzke: The message is: Think about, really reflect, whether it is really necessary to put a small, often utterly frightened boy through surgery that has no medical necessity and that carries risks, or whether you can hold off on this or opt for some other ritual that symbolically fulfills the religious intent.


German Turkish News: Do you expect there to be an appeal?

Holm Putzke: This was already an appellate decision. Since the state bar apparently has decided not to consider any further appeals, the judgment is final. There is no way to challenge this ruling. This message is especially true for individuals or organizations that might viscerally attack this decision just to declare their outrage and disgust.

German Turkish News: Do you expect more lawsuits because of similar incidents?

Holm Putzke: I won't hazard an answer. Conceivably a storm of indignation from religious groups might initially discourage other prosecutors from bringing such cases. But in the long run the solid arguments will prevail. And those arguments pretty clearly now say that  children should not have their genitals forcibly violated. Rather, they can make a decision at an appropriate age about whether they want it or not.

Prof. Dr. Holm Putzke, LL.M. teaches Criminal Law at the University of Passau. Since the 2008 publication of his essay "The Criminal Relevance of Circumcision of Boys," he has made many other contributions to the subject and has participated in the public debate on the criminalization of circumcision of minors that is not medically indicated. 

Earlier story

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

GERMANY: Predictible outrage at legal ruling

the Times of Israel
June 26, 2012

Outraged German Jews slam court for prohibiting circumcision

Community president says ruling marks 'unprecedented and dramatic interference,' calls on Bundestag to ensure religious freedom
By Raphael Ahren
The Central Council of Jews in Germany on Tuesday slammed the “outrageous and insensitive” decision of a regional court to prohibit circumcisions, calling upon the German parliament to pass a law that safeguards freedom of religion. [Beware what you wish for! A law that safeguards individual freedom of religion would certainly outlaw infant circumcision.]
The District Court of Cologne court ruled earlier this week that parents having their sons circumcised can be brought before a judge for causing bodily injury, even if they did so for religious reasons. The ruling means that neither the rights of parents nor the constitutional freedom of religion can justify acts such as circumcision, according to Financial Times Deutschland, which first reported the story.

In a statement released Tuesday, the German Jewish community’s Central Council called the court’s ruling an “unprecedented and dramatic interference in the right of self-determination of religious communities.” [... and an unprecedented and dramatic extension of the right of self-determination of defenceless individuals.]
“This judgement is outrageous and insensitive,” said the Council’s president, Dieter Graumann. “The circumcision of newborn boys is an inherent part of the Jewish religion and has been performed for millennia across the world. In every country in the world this religious right is being respected.”
The Council further called upon the German Bundestag to “create legal protection and thus safeguard freedom of religion from such attacks.”

Opponents of circumcision, meanwhile, welcomed the court’s ruling.

“As opposed to many politicians, the court was not deterred by fears of being criticized for anti-Semitism or hostility toward religion,” University of Passau jurist Holm Putzke told the FTD. “This decision could not only influence future jurisdiction, it could also lead the relevant religions to change their attitude with respect to the fundamental nature of children’s rights.”


Legal experts told the German newspaper they assume that other courts in Germany could rule along similar lines in further cases and that the question of religiously motivated circumcisions will end up in the country’s Supreme Court.


Earlier story

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

NEW YORK: Another baby gets herpes

New York Times (Subscription required)
June 25, 2012

Circumcision gives Orange County baby herpes: officials

By Thomas Zambito
An Orange County infant has been hospitalized after contracting a deadly strain of herpes from an Orthodox circumcision ritual that has claimed the lives of two babies in New York City in the past decade, health officials told Newsday on Monday.

The month-old infant was admitted to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center in Manhattan last week after the ultra-Orthodox...

Earlier story

GERMANY: Non-therapeutic circumcision is illegal

Financial Times (Deutschland)
June 25, 2012
Illegale Prozedur

Gericht stellt religiöse Beschneidung unter Strafe

Exklusiv Ein Urteil des Landgerichts Köln betrifft einen weitverbreiteten, aus religiösen Gründen durchgeführten medizinischen Eingriff: Danach ist die Beschneidung von Jungen künftig als Körperverletzung zu werten. von Matthias Ruch
Wer Jungen aus religiösen Gründen beschneidet, macht sich wegen Körperverletzung strafbar. Dies hat das Landgericht Köln in einem wegweisenden Urteil entschieden, das der FTD vorliegt. Weder das Elternrecht noch die im Grundgesetz garantierte Religionsfreiheit können diesen Eingriff rechtfertigen, stellte das Gericht in seiner Urteilsbegründung klar.

Damit stellt erstmals ein deutsches Gericht den religiösen Brauch unter Strafe. Jährlich werden in Deutschland mehrere tausend Jungen in ihren ersten Lebensjahren auf Wunsch der Eltern beschnitten. In den USA wird sogar die Mehrheit aller Jungen - weitgehend unabhängig von der Religion - direkt nach Geburt beschnitten. Auch dort formiert sich nun aber massiver Widerstand gegen diese Praxis. Weltweit sind rund ein Viertel aller Männer beschnitten.

Über Jahrzehnte hatten Ärzte in Deutschland in einer juristischen Grauzone agiert, wenn sie Jungen aus rein religiösen Gründen beschnitten, ohne dass es eine medizinische Notwendigkeit gab. Bislang konnten sie sich jedoch darauf berufen, keine Kenntnis von der Strafbarkeit religiöser Beschneidungen gehabt zu haben. Selbst wenn ein Gericht den Einzelfall später als Körperverletzung anerkannte, musste der Arzt wegen des so genannten Verbotsirrtums freigesprochen werden. Mit dem Kölner Urteil fällt diese Möglichkeit nun weg.

"Das Urteil ist vor allem für Ärzte enorm wichtig, weil diese jetzt zum ersten Mal Rechtssicherheit haben", sagte Holm Putzke von der Universität Passau. Der Strafrechtler fordert seit Jahren ein ausdrückliches Verbot der religiösen Beschneidung. "Das Gericht hat sich - anders als viele Politiker - nicht von der Sorge abschrecken lassen, als antisemitisch und religionsfeindlich kritisiert zu werden", lobte Putzke. "Diese Entscheidung könnte nicht nur die zukünftige Rechtsprechung prägen, sondern im besten Fall auch bei den betroffenen Religionen zu einem Bewusstseinswandel führen, Grundrechte von Kindern zu respektieren."

Vor allem muslimische und jüdische Organisationen weisen die Forderungen nach einer Strafbarkeit der Beschneidung bislang entschieden zurück. Sie werten ein Verbot als "schweren Eingriff in das Recht auf freie Religionsausübung". Zum Kölner Urteil wollten sie sich am Montag auf Anfrage zunächst nicht äußern. Man wolle zunächst die Urteilsbegründung prüfen, hieß es.

Der Richterspruch dürfte für Diskussionen sorgen. Seit Jahren ringen Politik und Verbände um eine bessere Integration der muslimischen Bevölkerung. Wolfgang Schäuble berief dazu als Innenminister 2006 erstmals eine eigene Islamkonferenz ein. Der ehemalige Bundespräsident Christian Wulff sagte: "Der Islam gehört zu Deutschland." Sein Nachfolger Joachim Gauck variierte: "Die Muslime, die hier leben, gehören zu Deutschland." Einige Muslime dürften das Kölner Urteil nun als einen Rückschritt auffassen.

Experten gehen davon aus, dass nun weitere Fälle andernorts vor Gericht landen werden. Abschließend könnte die Frage nach der Strafbarkeit religiös motivierter Beschneidungen dann wohl vom Bundesverfassungsgericht geregelt werden.

Im Kölner Fall hatte ein muslimischer Arzt an einem vierjährigen Jungen auf Wunsch der Eltern eine Beschneidung vorgenommen. Zwei Tage später kam es zu Nachblutungen, die Mutter brachte den Jungen in die Kindernotaufnahme. Die Staatsanwaltschaft erhielt Kenntnis davon und erhob Anklage gegen den Beschneider. Nachdem das Amtsgericht den Eingriff für rechtens befand, legte sie Berufung ein. Das Landgericht wertete ihn jetzt als "schwere und irreversible Beeinträchtigung der körperlichen Unversehrtheit".

Financial Times (Germany - Babelfish translation)
June 25, 2012
Personal injury

Court: religious circumcision is punishable

Exclusive A judgment of the District Court of Cologne [refers to] a widespread medical intervention, carried out for religious reasons: [according to it] the circumcision of boys is in the future as a personal injury. By Matthias Ruch

[Those who] trim boys for religious reasons, [make themselves] punishable because of injury. This decided the Cologne regional court, in a landmark ruling that the FTD [this paper, has received]. Neither the parents nor the freedom of religion guaranteed in the basic law can justify this intervention, in its judgment, the Court made it clear.

Thus, a German court for the first time [puts] the religious custom under penalty. Each year, several thousand boys in their first years of life at the request of the parents be cropped in Germany. In the United States, even the majority of all boys - is clipped largely independent of the religion - directly after birth. There formed but now massive resistance to this practice. Worldwide around a quarter of all men are circumcised.

For decades, doctors in Germany in a legal grey area had acts when they circumcised boys for purely religious reasons, without that there was a medical necessity. So far they could rely however, to have had no knowledge of the criminality of religious restrictions. Even if a court accepted the case later as personal injury, the doctor due to the so called [mistake of law] had to be acquitted. With the Cologne decision is now eliminated this possibility.

Holm Putzke from the University of Passau said "The decision is extremely important especially for doctors because they have legal certainty now for the first time." The jurist called for an explicit prohibition of religious circumcision for years. "The Court has let otherwise deter as many politicians - not of concern, as anti-Semitic and hostile to religion to be criticized", praised Putzke. "This decision could influence not only the future case law, but lead at best, even with the affected religions, to a change of consciousness, to respect fundamental rights of children."

Mainly Muslim and Jewish organizations reject so far the demands after a criminality of circumcision. [They] evaluate a ban as "serious interference in the right to free exercise of religion". To the Cologne decision they wanted to not comment initially on Monday on request. It was said that [they] would first consider the judgment.

The judgment is likely to provide for discussions. For years struggle politics and associations to improve the integration of the Muslim population. Wolfgang Schäuble convened to 2006 for the first time an own Islamic Conference as Minister of the Interior. The former German President Christian Wulff said: "Islam is one of Germany." His successor Joachim Gauck varied: "The Muslims who live here are Germany." Some Muslims are likely to now include the Cologne decision as a step backwards.

Experts assume that more cases will end up elsewhere before the Court. Finally the question could be regulated then probably after the criminality of religiously motivated restrictions by the Federal Constitutional Court.

In the Cologne case, a Muslim physician at a four-year old boy at the request of the parents had made a circumcision. Two days later it came to haemorrhage, the mother brought the boy in raising children's emergency. The public prosecutor's Office was informed of and pressed charges against the be cutter. After the District Court [ruled] the procedure [to be] legal she lodged an appeal. Now, the Court assessed [it] as "serious and irreversible impairment of physical integrity".

SEATTLE: DOC's Mad Nurse, Scared Cock, Wow Crowd

June 25, 2012

DOC's Mad Nurse, Scared Cock, Wow Pride Crowd

Doctors Opposing Circumcision performed street theatre in the Seattle Pride parade, a nurse with huge shears chasing a terrified intact penis, who appealed to the crowd for help.

Seattle Pride 2012 DOC
To view video

Mothers in matching blue tee-shirts pushed strollers with their intact boys carrying signs saying 'His Body, His Choice", "Intact Genitals are a Human Right" and "Circumcision is Human Rights Abuse".

The crowd reportedly applauded often, and one young child on the parade route asked to hug the endangered penis (performed by a woman).

Afterwards they staffed a foreskin restoration booth that was well-attended. Visitors included an intact Russian Jew, whose story of his escape from circumcision was recorded on film.

SAN FRANCISCO: Two Intactivist Groups in Pride: Commentators tongue-tied

SF Pride Live
June 25, 2012

Two Intactivist contingents in SF Pride: Commentators tongue-tied

Two Intactivist contingents marched in San Francisco's Gay Pride parade on Sunday.

The parade's theme was global equality. Intactivists were marching for equality of the sexes. TV commentators were embarassed, inaccurate and awkward.

For the MGMBill contingent, the commentary was, to say the least, uninformative:

To view: Segments can only be watched in sequence. Slide to the end of the first segment, and to 1:43:45 in the second segment. Commentators continue to talk about the Dolan Law Firm making historic law changes as the MGM Bill poster passes.

Donna Sachet: As we said, every contingent has a place in this parade, and we have, uh, uh, MGMbill right here.
SF Pride 2012 MGMBill
(now suddenly enthusiastic) Followed quickly by PETA! An organization that wants to protect the ethical treatment of animals. You've heard a lot about them, but this is a voice in the parade that needs to be heard.
(PETA has also aroused controversy for its illegal actions and strong advocacy for the rights of animals compared to humans.) One MGMBill member was riding a Segway. It would have been a simple segue from the ethical treatment of humans to the ethical treatment of animals.

For the Bay Area Intactivists contingent, the running commentary was even more awkward:

To view: Slide to 30:28 in the third segment.
SF Pride 2012 Bay Area Intactivists

Michelle Meow: This next organization, um, actually... very interesting... and, and we keep saying this all throughout the San Francisco Pride Parade celebration, is, you've got, uh, every group has got their own feelings, they've got got their own kind of mission going...
(fumbling to find her card stating what BAI is about)

This next group is Bay Area InACTIVISTS (sic). Founded in 2001, they are... Bay Area InACTIVISTS is a human rights organization with members working to eradicate all forms of genital mutilation, including routine infant circumcision.
(awkward dead silence)

Kind of a topic that uh, I mean, uh, I, I, I... (She petas out. Donna apparently feels the need to remind her that she's not to diss the participants:)

SF Pride 2012 Bay Area Intactivists

Donna Sachet: As we said, there's a place for everyone in the Parade and you can be a part of the parade next year if you have something you want to represent. So we welcome everyone in the parade.

Michelle Meow: Well, last year the San Francisco Male Genital Mutilation Bill ballot initiative to restrict male circumcision to consenting adults made international news... (draws out "news", more awkward silence.)

SF Pride 2012 Bay Area Intactivists
Donna Sachet: Well, the sun is really out now, I tell ya... (BAI is still going by and there's no one else up)
We're here! We're Intactivists! It's a human rights issue! Get used to it!

Monday, June 25, 2012

BRISTOL: BMA urged to ban non-therapeutic circumcision

Health Matters (UK - 11 references in the original)
June, 2012

Medics urged to ban circumcision as baby boy bleeds to death

The British Medical Association will be urged to debate the banning of Unnecessary Male Circumcision at its annual meeting next week after a baby bled to death in Queens Park, London.

The tragic case of 28 day old Angelo Ofori-Mintah is the latest in string of deaths and injuries that have prompted some doctors to call for laws that protect girls from unnecessary genital cutting to be extended to protect boys.

The news of Angelo’s death came in the same week that The British Association for Community Child Health reported in it’s quarterly newsletter that a baby boy’s skull was fractured during a ritual circumcision performed on a kitchen table in Bristol.

Now Dr Antony Lempert, GP and Director of the Secular Medical Forum, will be calling on the BMA to debate the banning of Non Therapeutic Circumcision in the UK at the start of its annual meeting.

Other cases that have helped push the issue up the agenda include the case of a Salford midwife who will be tried for manslaughter later this year after a boy she circumcised bled to death, and a report in The Journal of Public Health that found that nearly 1 in 2 Muslim boys circumcised in an Islamic school in Oxford ended up with medical complications.

There is currently a growing demand across Northern Europe to outlaw the practice with the junior party in Norway’s coalition government calling for a ban (7) earlier this month and medical associations in Sweden and The Netherlands also opposing the practice. Britain’s leading anti-circumcision charity, NORM UK, is heading for Rotterdam next week for an international conference on the Doctor And The Foreskin (subtitled Circumcision: forbid, deter or encourage?)

The Campaign To End Unnecessary Male Circumcision estimates that more than half a million boys living in the UK will be subjected to medically unnecessary circumcision before their 16th birthday.

And the anti-circumcision movement is growing in the UK with campaigners from the group Men Do Complain planning to protest outside the British Medical Association’s Annual Representatives Meeting in Bournemouth next week.

The campaign founder, Richard Dunkcer, says they will be protesting because “cutting the genitals of healthy boys who cannot consent is profoundly unethical”.

Another group, Genital Autonomy, is planning a mini-conference in at Keele University in July to bring together leading experts and practioners to debate “How Can We Prevent unnecessary Male Circumcision”.

Earlier story

ZIMBABWE: Some MPs get circumcised

AllAfrica (and many others)
June 22, 2012

Zimbabwe: MP's Undergo Public HIV Testing and Circumcision

[This story is not particularly newsworthy, yet it has been broadcast more widely than almost any other concerning circumcision or HIV/AIDS.]
By Lance Guma
Dozens of MP's on Friday underwent voluntary counselling and public testing for HIV in an effort to encourage other citizens to follow suit.

Blessing Chebundo, chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids, told SW Radio Africa that "181 people went through the doors for testing and 23 males went through the male circumcision." On Thursday more than 47 legislators, 22 outsiders, as well as 60 parliamentary staff went through the same exercise.
[The actual number of MPs getting circumcised has been reported to be as high as 68 and as low as 10.]

Chebundo could not provide the number of MP's who took part in the exercise on Friday telling us: "We are still trying to separate the figures because when the MP's went for the test, we had a huge crowd of people who had come to witness the occasion and they flocked behind the MP's and were also tested."

Among those who took part were Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Speaker of Parliament Lovemore Moyo and David Mutambara, the current board chairperson of the National Aids Council. Mutambara went for the public HIV test and was among the 23 who took part in the male circumcision.

"We are proud of them for setting the pace." Chebundo said. He explained that although the testing was public, when it came to the results, "that is the individuals decision to disclose. I am told there were some members who disclosed to the media. We did not want to follow that because it is an individual's decision."

Motivating the exercise is research by the World Health Organization showing that male circumcision can reduce a man's risk of getting HIV by up to 60 per cent. In the late 1990's Zimbabwe had one of the world's highest HIV infection rates but that figure is estimated to have more than halved by 2009.
[In Zimbabwe in 2005, USAID found 14.2% of non-circumcised men had HIV compared to 16.6% of circumcised men. (Similar differences apply in 10 of 18 countries for which it has figures.) Shouldn't this at least be explained before blundering on with mass circumcision programmes? The "up to 60% reduction" figure amounts to a total of 73 circumcised men who did not get HIV less than two years after 5,400 men were circumcised, while 64 did (and 327 dropped out, their HIV status unknown). Circumcision does nothing to directly protect women, who are at greater risk, and may even INcrease the risk to them. It will make it harder for women to insist that men use condoms. It is a recipe for disaster.]

Chebundo was keen to stress that male circumcision alone would not prevent people from contracting the HIV virus which causes AIDS. "We don't preach that when you are male circumcised you should go for unprotected sex. ["Should"? No, that would be madness. But plenty of people are concluding that you may.] Its just one of those measures, you have to have a combination of measures."

Blessing Chebundo the chairman of the Zimbabwe Parliamentarians Against Aids will be our next guest on Question Time.
[Will he be asked any hard questions? We're not holding our breath.
Zimbabwe has horrendous health problems. The money and resources being spent cutting men's genitals could be used much more effectively on measures that would, for example, ensure children live to adulthood.]

Saturday, June 23, 2012

LONDON: Baby bleeds to death two days after circumcision

Brent & Kilburn Times (London)
June 22, 2012

Queen's Park baby bled to death two days after being circumcised

Inquest hears 28-day-old tot lost three-quarters of his total blood volume
A one-month-old baby from Queen’s Park bled to death less than two days after he was circumcised, an inquest heard.

Angelo Ofori-Mintah’s operation went according to plan, but a few hours later the incision began to bleed.

Westminster Coroner’s Court heard it eventually stopped and his mother Maame Abrafi, who lives in Ashmore Road, thought he was fine.

However the following day he became cold and pale and was rushed to hospital with dangerously low oxygen levels.

He suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the early hours of February 17.

Tests revealed he had lost about three-quarters of his total blood volume and died as a result of an acute haemorrhage due to circumcision.

The inquest heard Mrs Abrafi had received clear aftercare instructions from Rabbi Mordehai Cohen, who carried out the procedure.

The qualified practitioner gave her a printed guide which included his contact details in case of emergency.

He also explained that she was to leave the bandage on for 24 hours ‘at all costs’.

But realising her 28-day-old son was bleeding, the court heard, Mrs Abrafi who is originally from Ghana, removed it within nine hours.

She was unable to call the Rabbi because she did not have enough phone credit so texted a friend who contacted him for her.

The friend said the Rabbi had suggested applying petroleum jelly but as she hadn’t seen the baby she was relying on Mrs Abrafi’s description.

This created a ‘tragic break-down in communication’ said Deputy Coroner Shirley Radcliffe, which left Rabbi Cohen unaware of the full circumstances.

Rabbi Cohen was entirely blameless for the tragedy.

Directing her comments to Mrs Abrafi, Mrs Radcliffe said: “This is simply a tragic accident, an unforeseen consequence of the surgical procedure that this baby undertook.

[What's unforseen? "If you cut me, do I not bleed?" The baby didn't "undertake" anything. The "undertaking" was entirely by misguided adults - then by the undertaker.]
“My deepest condolences.”

Verdict: Accidental death.

KENYA: Government blamed for female cutting continuing

The Star (Nairobi)
June 21, 2012

Kenya: Government Blamed for FGM in Kuria

By Benson Nyagesiba
Two NGOs on Tuesday blamed the government for doing little to eradicate FGM in Kuria East and West districts.

The Young Women Christian Association and Education Centre for the Advancement of Women claimed that the provincial administration in the area was not supporting efforts to protect the girl child from FGM.

Speaking in Kisii during a sensitization forum organized by YWCA Kisii branch, ECAW program officer Cecilia Wangui said elders from the community contribute a lot to the rising cases of FGM by insisting that girls undergo circumcision in order to be accepted in the society. "Many girls don't finish primary because they get married immediately they are circumcised because they are forced by the parents to do so for the sake of dowry," she added. "A section of chiefs who are supposed to be at the forefront of the fight are secretly circumcising their daughters," Colleta Bwahi, a paralegal with ECAW claimed. She hailed women assistant chiefs in the area for joining the fight.

Friday, June 22, 2012

LIMPOPO, SOUTH AFRICA: Taxi driver kidnapped and forcibly circumcised

The Sowetan
June 21, 2012

Taxi driver kidnapped and forcibly circumcised

By Frank Maponya Limpopo Bureau Chief
"The abductors must be traced and face penalties" - House of Traditional Leaders. But the victim will not be released from the school.

THE family of a Limpopo taxi owner is fuming after he was abducted, allegedly by his colleagues in the taxi industry, and forced into an initiation school to be circumcised.

The incident happened on Sunday, two days after the start of the initiation season, in Nebo in the Sekhukhune area.

Jacob Mafiri, 42, was allegedly taken against his will to an initiation school in Eensaam village.
Mafiri is a well-known taxi owner and driver in the area.

It is not known what prompted the action and the matter is still under investigation.
His brother, Thomas, confirmed to Sowetan that Mafiri had not yet been to an initiation school as required by the culture of his family.

"We come from a religious family in which none of us, including our parents, were ever allowed to attend initiations," Thomas said.

"We view what happened to Jacob as his rights having been trampled on by the perpetrators.

"Jacob has a wife and five children who all depend on him," he said.

"His car is parked and cannot operate because no one, except the owner, has a permit to operate it as a taxi."


Thomas said it was worrisome that the period between now and when the initiation schools were set to close down was long and that his brother's family would starve. Mafiri is the sole breadwinner.

Limpopo deputy chairman of the House of Traditional Leaders Hosi Eric Chauke said abduction was not allowed as they - the men who adducted Mafiri - had the responsibility to "respect other people's human rights".

"In this case the abductors must be traced and face penalties," Chauke said.

"It is obviously a police case and we will report it."


UGANDA: 220 men forcibly circumcised

The Africa Report
June 21, 2012

Storm brews over forced circumcision in Uganda

By Godfrey Olukya
The Ugandan town of Mbale was brought to a standstill on Tuesday afternoon, as a naked man ran through the streets, with more than 50 men in pursuit. He was fleeing a forced circumcision.

Only identified as Deo, the man sought sanctuary from the Resident District Administrator, as the men and a local scalpel-wielding surgeon gave chase.

Deo survived the forced circumcision after guards at the administrator's office were able to disperse his assailants, but that was not before other men had fallen victim to the enforced surgical operation.

More than 40 men of various ages have been subjected to the cut in the last two days, as the town goes through a general circumcision programme, but this has faced widespread protests.

Mbale is mainly inhabited by the Bamasaba tribe, which prescribes circumcision to all males from the age of 15, and those who do not undergo the cut are forcefully circumcised.

However, it has emerged that the 40 men who were forcefully circumcised are not of the Bamasaba tribe, but rather were forced to undergo the operation, as they either had Bamasaba wives or girlfriends.

"Since they sleep with our sisters and daughters, we felt they had to be circumcised like the rest of us," Gerald Wambedde, an advocate of forced circumcisions, said.

The leader of the exercise, Badru Wasike said the circumcision exercise was both a cultural and health exercise.

"We are helping those who feared getting circumcised through cultural processes. We are aware that circumcised men do not easily get infected with HIV/Aids. Since they love our relatives we want them to be safe," he explained.

But this has raised a wave of protests in the town, 400 kilometres east of the capital, Kampala with some saying the forced circumcisions were inhuman.

"Men were told to unzip on the streets to ascertain whether they had been circumcised. That is not only unfair but also inhuman," a human rights activist, Mbale,Keneth Mabonga, said.

The RDC has responded by banning forced circumcision and has instructed local police to arrest anyone suspected of enforcing the said cultural rite.

Culturally, the Bamasaba hold circumcision ceremonies every two years.

Those to be circumcised, as a rite of passage, undergo rituals including dancing half naked, while their bodies are smeared with ash.

New Vision (Uganda)
June 20, 2012

Forceful circumcision in Mbale: Police fire teargas

By Paul Watala
Police in Mbale have fired teargas and deployed heavily to disperse hooligans forcefully circumcising people on the streets including non-Bamasaba.

The District Police Commander, Michael Angucia Wednesday vowed to crack down the hooligans who are causing insecurity in the town.

“I am not trying to fight the culture of the Bamasaba but the way the practice is handled may cause tribal conflicts. Several people have fled the town, property robbed and business is being paralyzed,” Angucia said.

“We have deployed on the streets to arrest the hooligans,” Angucia added.

He said that several groups of such people have taken advantage of the cultural festival of the Bamasaba to force whoever they suspect to have not been circumcised.

Angucia said that due to public outcry from the people and local leaders, police had no alternative but to provide security on the streets to restore serenity in town, adding that some people have fled town and abandoned business in Mbale main garage.

It is estimated that a total number of about 220 people have been circumcised from the time the exercise began date.

Dr. Jaffer Balyejjusa a senior Consultant surgeon Mbale regional Referral Hospital condemned the act of forceful circumcision.

He said that so far they have received two cases where the victims had been circumcised badly putting lives in danger.

Bamasaba cultural board chairperson, Augustine Wandende condemned the act of forcing people who are not Bamasaba into circumcision without their consent and appealed to the authorities to take action against the culprits.

[Would this have happened if Drs Gray, Quinn, Wawer etc. ha not assured Ugandans that circumcision is wonderful?]

LIBERIA: Campaign against female cutting is fiercely opposed

The Globe and Mail
June 19, 2012

Liberian effort to end female circumcision runs into fierce opposition

By Geoffrey York
MONROVIA, LIBERIA - Talk candidly to women in Liberia, and they will tell the stories of friends who bled to death in forced ceremonies held deep in the forests.

"My friend was 19 when they carried her away," said Cecilia Samujlah, the mother of four children. "She didn't want to go. She was crying. She never came back."

The kidnappers later apologized to the parents of the dead woman. By then it was too late. "They said the devil ate her," Ms. Samujlah said.

Her friend was a victim of female genital cutting, a traditional rite of passage (also known as female circumcision) that is still practised by thousands of rural women in Liberia in secret rural schools, and in many other African and Middle Eastern countries, despite a high rate of death and injury.

Now Liberia has announced plans to halt the practice, a move that could have huge symbolic value as a model for Africa - if it can overcome the fierce resistance from powerful forces here.

"Government is saying: 'This needs to stop,' " said Liberia's Minister of Gender and Development, Julia Duncan-Cassell, in an interview with local journalists.

She asked Liberians to "desist" from female circumcision. "Government wants to respect the belief of the people but, at the same time, is telling them not to infringe on the right of someone else.

Another government official, Grace Kpaan, is even stronger in her condemnation of the ritual. "I believe it is evil," she said, "because there are times that little children even die in the bushes; seven, eight and nine year olds."

Yet,despite this rhetoric, the government is making little effort to impose a ban, and it has admitted it has no deadline for eliminating the practice.

While many Liberian women are unhappy with the ritual, there is still widespread support for it. Many rural women are told that it is obligatory for marriage. As many as two-thirds of Liberian women have undergone the procedure, believing it necessary to reduce sexual desire and prevent promiscuity.

"It's been here for a thousand years," said Setta Saah, a senior official of the National Traditional Council of Liberia, a government-backed agency.

"The government won't say 'No' without the approval of the people," she predicted.

The practice is usually performed by a secret organization, the Sande Society, which operates "bush schools" across Liberia to teach traditional beliefs on marriage and motherhood. The society is a leading cultural force in many villages, supported by influential groups such as the National Traditional Council.

Ella Coleman, another top official in the council, says she doubts that female circumcision will be banned without extensive consultations first. She insists that the bush schools are completely voluntary. "You see children as young as seven walking into the bush," she said. "Nobody is holding their hand. Nobody is forcing them. This is our tradition, and this is how we live."

She is angry at the anti-circumcision campaigns by activist groups. "When they talk about it on the radio and on posters, it incites people and causes conflict," she complained.

Phyllis Nguma-Kimba, a Liberian activist with the National Association on Traditional Practices, is one of those who campaigns against female genital cutting. She goes door-to-door in villages, holds meetings and educates women about the risks. She has rescued girls from the bush schools, and she has pursued legal action against those who kidnapped girls to force them into circumcision.

She herself suffered the procedure at the age of four. Before the ceremony, she was dressed up in fancy clothes. "You feel proud," she remembers. But then they began to cut her. "I still remember the pain. When someone cuts your flesh, you remember it."

As an adult, Ms. Nguma-Kimba suffered complications from the procedure, which damaged her marriage. She became a nurse at a hospital, where she had to care for injured girls to stop the bleeding after they were genitally cut.

Today, she said, the ritual has become a source of power and money for those who run the bush schools. Girls must pay up to $70 each for two weeks in the school, and circumcision is considered part of their initiation. It remains shrouded in secrecy and myths. Girls are often warned that they could fall sick and die if they disclose any details of the ceremonies.

"I'm hoping and praying that it will be banned," Ms. Nguma-Kimba said. "It's harmful. It's a nightmare that you go through."

Her campaign against genital cutting has made her a target for death threats. Her grandchildren were threatened, her office was repeatedly vandalized and her house mysteriously burned down in an arson attack.
But she vowed to continue her campaign. "It shows that we are getting somewhere. It only gives me encouragement and the courage to keep going."

Others, too, have been targeted by supporters of the ritual. Journalists who wrote about the issue have suffered threats. One journalist was forced into hiding after the front-page publication of her investigation into the Sande Society.

In the meantime, the ritual continues to kill. Girls perish from prolonged bleeding or from the dangerous use of unsterilized blades in the ritual ceremony.

"Sometimes it's unsafe because they use the same instrument for other women, and they keep it for years," said Kulah Borbor, a 46-year-old woman who underwent the procedure as an adolescent. "Sometimes they make a mistake and they cut where they shouldn't cut. You bleed and bleed, and sometimes you die because no medical person is there. You see women running around and looking for help, but there is no help."

Ms. Borbor said she knows many girls who died from the ritual. She won't allow her own daughters to undergo it. When she was a child, a 12-year-old friend died from the procedure: "She bled for one day. Then, in the night, she died. You die for nothing, nothing."

Yet she doesn't believe that the procedure will be banned in the near future. It will take years to overcome the resistance, she said.

In Liberia's rural villages, female circumcision is rarely questioned. Leaders of the secret society become angry when they are asked about it. "It's our culture," said Yamah Augustine, leader of the Sande Society in a village called Nimba Point.

"Our grandparents did it," she said. "Even if the president says we should abandon it, we won't abandon it. Nobody can ask me about my culture."

Sunday, June 17, 2012

ISRAEL: More Jews not circumcising

Haaretz (subscription required)
June 14, 2012

Even in Israel, more and more parents choose not to circumcise their sons

What will the kids in school say - not to mention army buddies? What is healthier? Should such men be called Jews?
By Netta Ahituv
... of 1,418 parents of boys, 4.8 percent did not have them circumcised.

"...Suddenly I realized that people do more research about strollers than they do about the issue of slicing off part of their son’s body."

Writer Meir Shalev noted ... “It is not only circumcision itself that should make us wonder, but also the enthusiasm we display in preserving the custom. Something very strange is going on here. "

“Our children are pleased that they were not circumcised. They never got angry at us, ...."

Tamir, for her part, wonders what will happen if an anti-AIDS vaccine is developed in 10 years’ time. “How will I feel about having cut my son’s sexual organ in order to reduce the likelihood that he will contract AIDS when there is already good nonsurgical protection available (the condom) and in the end a vaccine will also be developed?

Yuri, 26 (not his real name), ... was circumcised when he was 16. ...“the feeling in the sexual contact was affected, it was wrecked. ... I had made a mistake. I was 16 and I was an idiot.”

... Many fathers who have their sons circumcised express the desire that they will not look different, adding that they are happy to have been circumcised and accordingly are happy to pass on the custom to their children. To this Galit responds, “My children never asked me why they are different from their father. Since when do children have to be exactly like their parents?”

SAN DIEGO: Universal circumcision not cost-effective

June 14, 2012

Mandatory Circumcision Not Cost Effective for HIV Prevention

By Sherry Boschert, Ob.Gyn. News Digital Network
SAN DIEGO – Mandating circumcision in the United States would prevent 24 more cases of HIV than does the traditional optional approach to circumcision, but would increase costs by approximately $389 million, making it far less cost effective, an analysis of published data suggests.

The investigators assumed that the overall incidence of HIV in the United States is 27 cases/100,000 people and the lifetime cost of care for someone with HIV is $119,000, based on published data from government statistics and peer-reviewed studies. Using the $392 cost of a circumcision at their institution, they developed computer-generated estimates of the cost-effectiveness of mandatory or traditional circumcision strategies for various populations, said Dr. Sarah E. Drennan, a third-year resident in ob.gyn. at Ochsner Medical Center, New Orleans. [They also assumed that the reduction of heterosexually-transmitted HIV apparently found in three studies in Africa was applicable to the USA.]
For the overall U.S. population, mandatory circumcision would prevent 494 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $790 million. Traditional circumcision – in which the parents choose whether or not to circumcise a newborn – would prevent 470 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $401 million, she reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
[Only a handful of fanatics have ever suggested mandatory circumcision, and it is irrelevant to the study how 100% circumcision is achieved. It would be sufficient for their purposes to refer to "universal" circumcision. It would be illuminating for them to have considered no circumcision, since the rate of "traditional" circumcision is falling.]

The idea of mandatory circumcision policies in the United States has come up because of randomized, controlled trials in Africa showing that male circumcision reduces the risk of female-to-male transmission of HIV by 50%-60%, Dr. Drennan said.

She and coinvestigator Dr. Rajiv Gala, also of the Ochsner Medical Center, conducted the current analysis to account for key differences between the two geographical regions. HIV is spread mainly through heterosexual contact in Africa and by intravenous drug use or men having sex with men in the United States. The prevalence of HIV is 5% in sub-Saharan Africa and 0.6% in North America.

The study also compared the two strategies in the United States among African American and Hispanic populations, who have lower rates of circumcision and a higher prevalence of HIV, compared with the population as a whole. Traditional circumcision was the more cost-effective strategy in those subgroups too, although not as strongly as in the population as a whole, she said.

For African Americans, mandatory circumcision would prevent 1,878 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $816 million. Traditional circumcision would prevent 1,807 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $613 million.

For Hispanics, mandatory circumcision would prevent 472 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $792 million. Traditional circumcision would prevent 435 cases of HIV at a cost of approximately $342 million.

"Given the U.S. incidence of HIV, recommendations for mandatory circumcision are not supported" and require more U.S. studies on the role of circumcision in HIV prevention, Dr. Drennan said.

Circumcision would have to cost a mere $2.90 for the two strategies to be equally cost effective in tmillion/case for the two circumcision strategies to be equally cost effective in the general population.

The topic has generated controversy in recent years as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was said to be considering recommendations promoting routine circumcision for HIV prevention. The CDC still is considering what might be recommended, but any recommendations will be voluntary in nature, according to the CDC website.

The analysis was limited by a lack of data from randomized clinical trials and by the subjective nature of measuring behavioral risk, she said. The study also did not consider adverse events associated with circumcision or other health benefits other than prevention of HIV.

SYDNEY: Prof. Morris still can't get all the Quaintness off his website

Morris continues to purge his site of Quaintness - unsuccessfully

(C) Brian Morris & the Gilgal Society
Professor Brian Morris of the Univeristy of Sydney has removed references to the Gilgal Society from the French and German versions of his pro-circumcision leaflets.

The Gilgal Society was - and so far as anyone knows, still is - headed by Vernon Quaintance, convicted in April for possessing child pornography.

French, before
Morris leaflet, French, with Gilgal attribution
French, after
Morris leaflet, French, without Gilgal attribution
German, before
Morris leaflet, German, with Gilgal attribution
German, after
Morris leaflet, German, without Gilgal attribution

The circumfetish group circlist replaces the Gilgal Society among recommended websites. The name of Associate Professor Guy Cox of the University of Sydney has also been removed from the leaflets.

The Society and its logo are still emblazoned across its speculative list of Australian and New Zealand circumcisors on Professor Morris's website, Quaintance (misspelt "Quantance") is still listed as the author of a poem in praise of circumcision in the "humor" section, directly under a picture of a naked baby.

The Gilgal Society has published a sheaf of leaflets by Morris and a fetishistic video of an adult circumcision. Its website continues to advertise his leaflets, though "major computer failure" prevents it from selling them. Soon after Quaintance's conviction, Professor Morris removed the Gilgal logo from his leaflets in English, but it has remained on the French and German versions till recently.

Earlier story

BRUSSELS/STRASBOURG: EU Parliament calls for outright female cutting ban

New Europe
June 14, 2012

Amnesty International praises the European Parliament's commitment to end female genital mutilation

Today, 14 June, the European Parliament called on the United Nations to officially ban Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) once and for all. The joint resolution passed with an overwhelming majority.

According to MEP Michael Cashman: “Female Genital Mutilation is an internationally recognized abuse of human rights, child rights, and women’s rights, but it can only be addressed if we recognize the holistic rights of women. And, yes, that is including sexual health and reproductive rights. The right of a woman to decide what to do with her own body.”

The number of women and girls in Europe affected by this horrific practice are quite high. At least 500.000 women and girls living in Europe have undergone the practice of FGM. An additional 180.000 are at risk.

Despite the well-known detrimental physical and mental consequences of FGM, it is a practice that is sustained by tradition and performed for purely non-medical reasons. It is an extreme form of gender discrimination.

The EP is urging the UN General Assembly to adopt a resolution at its 67th session, which starts in September, to officially ban FGM worldwide. The African Union requested this initiative at the summit on 2 July 2011.


Amnesty International reacted very positively to the EP’s push to end FGM.

“... I hope that this show of commitment will be translated into action before more girls and women are exposed to this human rights violation”, concluded Dr Christine Loudes, Director.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

NORWAY: Ban ritual circumcision of boys: Centre Party

The Local (Norway)
June 13, 2012

Ban ritual circumcision of boys: Centre Party

The practice of ritually circumcising infant boys is outdated, dangerous, and should be banned, according to Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman Jenny Klinge.

“In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritize the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection,” Klinge told newspaper Dagbladet.

Although the Centre Party itself a junior partner in Norway’s Red-Green coalition government, the politician also criticized the government’s decision to consult experts on the possibility of introducing circumcision into the public healthcare system, a move she fears would legitimize the practice.

She stressed that she was not opposed to circumcision in cases where it was deemed a medical necessity.

“But circumcision based on ritual and religion is actually about holding down a newborn baby boy and cutting off part of a healthy sexual organ, with all the consequences that this might have for an individual’s future health and sex life,” said Klinge.

With this in mind, performing a circumcision on religious grounds ought to be made a criminal offence, she added.

Jan Helge Solbakk, a professor of medical ethics at Oslo University, agreed with Klinge’s criticism of the practice.

“It represents an irreversible operation on a boy who is not in a position to protect himself, and as such is in breach of basic human rights,” he told Dagbladet.

Earlier story

LONDON: Circumcision turned into porn by Catholic paedophile [NB: petition]

The Freethinker (UK)
June 13, 2012

Circumcision turned into porn by Catholic paedophile

By Barry Duke
JUST under a month ago I drew readers’ attention to a conference taking place in the UK next month to discuss the issue of unnecessary circumcision. It is to be held on Thursday, July 26 at Keele University, Staffordshire, and will explore how boys might be protected from being unnecessarily damaged by the practice.

Ahead of the conference, Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network, this week launched a petition, calling on the UK Government to end unnecessary circumcision in Britain, and I would urge you to sign it.

In my original blog, based on a report that pressure was being put on the Australian Government to end the ban on elective male circumcision in public hospitals, and to substantially increase the Medicare benefit for the procedure, I pointed out that this pressure had come mainly from The Circumcision Foundation of Australia.

The Foundation, I noted, was led by Sydney University biologist, Professor Brian Morris, who thinks circumcision should be mandatory. I have since learned that Morris is a member of a sinister outfit called the Gilgal Society, a UK-based not-for-profit organisation that exists to:
Provide accurate, medically approved, information about male circumcision and its benefits in terms of health, sexual satisfaction and self-image.

Gilgal is Hebrew for “hill of foreskins”, and the society, according Circleaks (motto: A place to learn about those who fund, promote, and profit from circumcision) is headed by a devout Roman Catholic called Vernon Quaintance, 68, who was employed as a sacristan and server for something called the Order of Malta’s Mass.

According to this Circleaks page:
Groups such as the Gilgal Society, the Acorn Society, and the Cutting Club openly admit to a morbid fascination with circumcision to the point of sado-masochistic fetish. These groups advertise that doctors are among their members. There are those on the Internet who discuss the erotic stimulation they experience by watching other males being circumcised, swap fiction and about it, and trade in videotapes of actual circumcisions.

The Gilgal Society has even published a book containing stories eroticising the circumcision of minors. Here’s an extract:
… the boys were given plenty of wine to relax them. … the discussion was about the sex lives of the boys and their school friends. The doctor asked how often the boys wanked. … The doctor showed the boys his microscope and asked if they had ever seen sperm under one. … He suggested to Mark that if he wanted to, he could have a quiet wank whilst Neil was being circumcised… This was eagerly accepted. … He lay back with his eyes closed and just let the doctor get on.

In April this year, Quaintance, from Upper Norwood, became a member of another “exclusive” club when he was put on the Sex Offenders’ Register after being convicted in the Old Bailey of possessing a stash of child porn.

But, despite having three video cassettes with nine-hours’ worth of clips showing boys as young as 11 engaging in sex acts, Quaintance avoided a jail sentence. The retired telephone engineer was handed a 40-week jail term, suspended for two years, ordered to complete a sexual offenders rehabilitation course, and told to pay £300 costs.

Residents in Henley Gardens, where Quaintance is known as “the respected head of the local community association”, were shocked to hear of his conviction. One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said:
I know he is a very religious man and is committed to the church.

Curious as to whether, in the light of Quaintance’s conviction, the Gilgal Society was still publishing circumcision porn, I clicked on the “Publications” link, only to receive this message:
We regret that as a result of major computer failure none of our publications are currently available to order from us.

Let’s hope its “computer failure” is terminal.

NOTE: There also a petition calling for a halt to female genital mutilation in the UK.

Earlier story

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

NEW YORK: Parents to sign consent for metzitzah?

New York Times
June 12, 2012

City Urges Requiring Consent for Jewish Rite

By Sharon Otterman
New York City health officials proposed on Tuesday that Orthodox Jewish parents be required to sign a consent waiver before they can take part in a circumcision ritual that is believed to have led to the deaths of at least two babies in the city over the past decade.

The proposal, introduced at a Board of Health meeting, represents an escalation of the city’s efforts to curtail the ancient Jewish procedure of metzitzah b’peh, in which an adult male, usually the circumciser, places his mouth directly on the wound created by the removal of the infant’s foreskin to suck away the blood.
Last week, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a report based on city information that said that from 2000 to 2011, 11 newborn babies in New York contracted the herpes simplex virus after the ritual. Ten of those babies were hospitalized; two suffered brain damage, and two died.

Based on those findings, the city’s health department issued a statement last week strongly urging that direct oral-genital suction not be performed during circumcision. It also announced that a number of hospitals had agreed to distribute a pamphlet to parents considering at-home circumcision, warning them of the risks.
On Tuesday, Dr. Jay K. Varma, deputy commissioner for disease control for the health department, announced the city’s next step, proposing that the Board of Health, which approves public health policies, require all parents who want direct oral suction to be used to sign a consent form indicating that they are aware of the risk of infection.


... In its study, the C.D.C. estimated that roughly 3,600 newborn boys a year in New York had circumcisions that included the procedure. Those infants, the agency said, had more than triple the normal risk of contracting herpes.

Over the past decade, as stories of babies sickened after such circumcisions have come to light, ultra-Orthodox authorities have strongly defended the practice as a religious right. [There is no such thing as "a religious right", only the rights of people to practise religion, which are subordinate to human rights.] Some rabbis argue that there is not enough evidence to show that the procedure causes infection, while others say the practice is important enough that it should be continued anyway.

Avi Shafran, spokesman for Agudath Israel, an umbrella group for many ultra-Orthodox organizations, said on Tuesday that the group wanted to study the proposed regulation before commenting on it. In March, the organization’s executive vice president, Rabbi David Zwiebel, warned that regulating the practice could drive it underground, making it more risky. [This objection is never used against regulating female genital cutting.]

In his presentation to the Board of Health, Dr. Varma said that two of the families whose babies got herpes after the ritual had told health authorities that they were unaware beforehand that it would be performed. He said distressed families had called, as recently as two weeks ago, saying they did not know their mohel would place his mouth on their infant’s wound, and wanting to know what could be done.

The health department is accepting public comments on the regulation until a public hearing on July 23, and will vote on it in September. Dr. Varma said the department was prepared for opposition.

“Since we are regulating how part of a religious procedure is done, this will be heavily scrutinized by legal experts, and it may be challenged at some point,” he said. “But we feel we are on very firm legal ground, because there is a compelling interest on behalf of the city in protecting the health of infants.” [How does allowing parentally consented metzitzah protect the health of infants?]


Earlier story

GALVESTON: Symposium on circumcision lacks Intactive voice

Daily News (Galveston)
June 10, 2012

UTMB invites public to symposium on circumcision

By Molly Dannenmaier
GALVESTON — Is male circumcision a medical procedure or a ritual? [Yes. Next!] Why is it important religiously and historically? [Begging the question that it is.] Should it be performed, and if so, how should it be performed? [Suggesting that the answer "No it should not" is not going to get much of a look-in.]
All these issues will be discussed at a symposium Friday by a panel of experts including a medical historian, a Jewish mohel who is also a pediatrician and two physicians with differing views on the ethical questions surrounding the performing of routine infant circumcision.

The symposium “Cutting Edge Debate: Pros, Cons and Contexts of Male Circumcision” will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Moody Gardens Hotel as part of the University of Texas Medical Branch’s 61st Pediatrics by the Gulf annual Pediatric Review and Update. There are a limited number of seats for the circumcision symposium available to the public by preregistration for a fee of $50, which includes a buffet lunch. The deadline to register is Tuesday.

The panel will engage in a multidimensional discussion of the ethical questions raised by circumcision, the wide array of varied views about circumcision and the social and cultural contexts that shape those views. The audience will be invited to participate in the discussion.

Panelist Dr. Max Mintz is both a pediatrician and a Jewish mohel who has performed about 10,000 circumcisions. He will speak to the place of circumcision in the Jewish tradition, the unique features of religious circumcision and his many years of experience performing the brit milah ritual with families throughout in the southwest region. He said he often is contacted by non-Jewish parents actively seeking out a mohel to perform circumcision on their sons. His discussion will include reasons some of these parents have shared with him for seeking a ritual circumcision instead of a purely clinical one.

Panelist Dr. Mike Malloy, a professor of pediatrics who oversees the UTMB Pediatric Residency Training program in circumcision, will provide an overview of current techniques used, types and rates of complication and the evolving, revolving perspectives on circumcision held by the American Academy of Pediatrics. ["Evolving, revolving"? Like how it has been shifting its bottom on the fence?]

Panelist Dr. Juliet McKee is a UTMB assistant professor in Family Medicine with specific interests in complementary and integrative medicine, women’s and children’s health and maternity care. While she continues to provide circumcision counseling, she no longer performs circumcisions. Her talk will address how she came to this decision, her concern for the vulnerability of infant patients and her desire to induct newborns into the world in ways that are intentional and respectful.

Panelist Jason Glenn is an assistant professor at UTMB’s Institute for the Medical Humanities and a historian of medicine. His talk will provide a social and historical framework for thinking about the ritual of circumcision. Dr. Glenn’s talk will provide the larger contexts within which circumcision is performed and debated.

To register for the symposium, contact UTMB’s Marcy Sifuentes at msifuent(at) or 409-772-3396. Registration is required to attend.
[It's a step forward that the question of NOT circumcising is even going to be raised, but with two pro-circumcision panelists and one who "continues to provide circumcision counselling", the dice are going to be loaded towards circumcising. Who there is going to say anything about the functions and value of the foreskin, or speak for men who wish they had not been circumcised, or the double standard involved in allowing the cutting of boys while totally forbidding any cutting of girls? Joseph4GI also blogs about this event.]

Saturday, June 9, 2012

BOTSWANA: "Health Minister couldn't infect me, he's circumcised"

The Voice (Botswana)
June 8, 2012


By Francinah Baaitse
Minister Matlhabapiri returns to court as scandal unfolds

Details of an illicit affair between the Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri and his maid were expected once again to tumble out of the closet as the case resumed on Thursday.

Matlhabaphir’s alleged sex sessions with his former maid were exposed when an ongoing assault court case involving the maid’s husband Simon Tafi, hit the headlines last year. ... Tafi had in his previous evidence said: “When I confronted my wife about her multiple sexual encounters with Mtlhabaphiri and cautioned her that she could be exposing us to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV and AIDS, she told me to my face that Matlhabaphiri could not infect her with HIV/AIDS because he was circumcised.” [And where did she get that idea - from the Assistant Health Minister?]

Friday, June 8, 2012

NEW YORK: Metzitzah; hospitals to warn parents

June 7, 2012

NYC warns parents of rare circumcision ritual

NEW YORK — Several hospitals serving New York City's large population of ultra-orthodox Jews have agreed to distribute a pamphlet to new parents carrying a warning from the health department that a rare form of ritual circumcision is dangerous, has killed at least two babies since 2004 and should be avoided.

The fliers address a procedure called "metzitzah b'peh" in Hebrew that was once a widely observed religious tradition but was abandoned by most Jews starting in the mid-19th century because of fears it could spread disease. During the ritual, the person performing the circumcision, called a mohel, cleans the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside.

Doctors say that puts the child at risk of becoming infected with herpes simplex type 1, a virus that most adults have and carry in their saliva.

In adults, that type of herpes is usually harmless, causing occasional cold sores, but to newborns it can be deadly.

New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said Wednesday that the ritual caused herpes in 11 children, 10 of whom required hospitalization, from 2000 to 2011.

Two developed brain damage. Two others died, including one last summer, officials said.

"There is no safe way to perform oral suction on any open wound in a newborn," Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a statement. "Parents considering ritual Jewish circumcision need to know that circumcision should only be performed under sterile conditions, like any other procedures that create open cuts, whether by mohelim or medical professionals."

All city-owned hospitals have agreed to distribute the flier, plus eight more, including several located in city neighborhoods with large populations of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

City health officials have warned against the procedure before, and it has been a topic of intense discussion in the Orthodox community for years, but the department said has been stepping up efforts since the latest death.

In the past, some rabbis in the city, which has the largest Haredi, or ultra-Orthodox, population outside of Israel, have resisted attempts to end the ritual, saying that the warnings about the risks were overblown and there wasn't enough evidence that it was causing herpes.

Most reform and modern orthodox mohels clean circumcision wounds with sterile gauze, a sponge, or use a glass tube to suction away blood.

Earlier story

Thursday, June 7, 2012

SOUTH DAKOTA: Inmate loses suit against his circumcision

June 6, 2012

Judge throws out SD inmate's circumcision lawsuit

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — A federal judge threw out a South Dakota prison inmate's claim he was permanently harmed when he was circumcised as an infant.

Twenty-eight-year-old Dean Cochrun had sought $1,000 in damages from Sanford Health. He also demanded "restoration" surgery.

U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier dismissed the case last week. She says the court doesn't have jurisdiction because both Cochrun and the hospital are in South Dakota.

Argus Leader June 6, 2012
But U.S. District Judge Karen Schreier dismissed his case last week, finding that the federal court system has no jurisdiction over such a small claim. [So he should have sued for millions....] She also ordered him to pay a $350 filing fee.

Cochrun's lawsuit says he was circumcised shortly after he was born in Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, S.D. The hospital is now known as Sanford Health.

Cochrun says the circumcision left him feeling inadequate and unable to fully enjoy sexual intercourse.
Sanford Health says circumcision wouldn't have been done without parental consent. [And that changes what?]
Cochrun is serving time in South Dakota's state prison for kidnapping. [But he won't be there forever, so that changes what?]
Earlier story

Saturday, June 2, 2012

ZAMBIA: Men are not buying mass-circumcision

UK Zambians
June 2, 2012

80% target set for male circumcision

The American government with its cooperating partners in the eastern and southern African regions hopes to reach about 80 % of males aged 15 to 49 with medical male circumcision in the next five years.

QFM NEWS reports that US ambassador to Zambia Mark Storella says this could prevent up to 3.4 million new infections in the region. [The figure is ex recto.]
Ambassador Storella says his government has been supporting Zambia in implementing the male circumcision programmes because they have proved to be effective in the prevention of HIV infections. [And it seems the US Government has been telling its ambassadors to push circumcision.]
The diplomat notes that the rate of men accessing the male circumcision has continued to be low saying there is need for the male circumcision awareness programmes to be scaled up.

Ambassador Storella was speaking at a meeting on medical male circumcision held for traditional leaders in Lusaka this morning.

Earlier story

ISRAEL: Another baby has penis cut off

The Times of Israel
June 1, 2012

Baby hospitalized after botched circumcision

Doctors expect reattachment procedure to be successful
By Ilan Ben Zion
A two-day-old boy from a Galilee village was rushed to a Haifa hospital on Friday after a botched circumcision.

The infant’s Muslim parents brought their child to Rambam Medical Center in Haifa after the ritual circumciser accidentally dismembered the child’s penis.

Urologists and surgeons worked to reattach the detached organ and said they expect the procedure to be successful.

This is the second time in the past month that the Rambam Medical Center has dealt with a misperformed circumcision.

Earlier story

FRANCE: Couple jailed for having daughters cut

June 1, 2012

France jails Guinean couple for genital mutilation

A French court Friday convicted a couple of Guinean origin of carrying out genital mutilation on their four daughters, sentencing the father to two years in prison and the mother to 18 months.

The court in the central city of Nevers convicted the couple, who arrived in France in the late 1980s, of "complicity in wilful violence" and sentenced the father to five years in prison and the mother to four years, with part of the sentences suspended.

The couple had been accused of carrying out the act, still practiced in some parts of Africa but illegal in France, on their two eldest daughters, now adults, and their two youngest, now aged 11 and 13.

Prosecutors had insisted on jail sentences for the couple, saying they were not looking for a "symbolic" conviction that would not include prison time.

The affair came to light in 2005 when the mutilation of the eldest girl was discovered in a Nevers hospital, where she was being operated on for appendicitis.

Female circumcision is still practised as an ancestral custom in parts of Africa despite awareness campaigns and increasingly tough legislation. The mutilation consists in a complete or partial cutting off of the clitoris and sometimes the lips of the vagina.

Earlier story