Monday, January 27, 2014

MELBOURNE: 14-year-old hospitalised after backyard circumcision

the Herald Sun (Melbourne)
January 26, 2014

DHS wants teen returned to mum who held him down while circumcised by witchdoctor

by Shannon Deery
THE Department of Human Services is trying to force a 14-year-old boy who was pinned down by his mother while he was forcibly circumcised by an international witchdoctor to return to live with her.

The teen remained conscious throughout the procedure.

The boy has told authorities he was one of 13 young boys across Melbourne to experience similar backyard procedures by the visiting witchdoctor on Boxing Day, in line with his mother's South Pacific culture.

The boy was rushed to the Royal Children's Hospital in the days after the circumcision because of complications with his recovery.

The boy was in so much pain doctors had to anaesthetise him so they could remove bandaging from his genitalia.

The boy was removed from his mother's care under a protection order, but the Department of Human Services yesterday applied to have the order withdrawn.

The move is being opposed by the boy's father, who made a complaint to police after learning about the procedure.

It is believed the boy's siblings were home at the time and might have witnessed the operation.

Authorities have been told the boys' families paid for the witchdoctor's flights to and from Melbourne, and for each of the circumcisions he performed.

It is believed he performed the operations in suburbs including Springvale, Werribee and Point Cook.
The witchdoctor is believed to visit Melbourne regularly to perform the procedures for the small community who believe the circumcision of boys is an important rite of passage that marks them as men.

In the boy's family's country of origin, the culturally significant milestone is performed in hospital and paid for by the government.

Victorian Opposition spokeswoman for children Jenny Mikakos called on the State Government to explain if this had happened before and if it could happen again.

"How can the department allow this invasive procedure to occur when one parent and the child himself are vehemently against it?" Ms Mikakos said.

Australasian Institute for Genital Autonomy chairman Paul Mason called for moves to ban circumcision.

"In this instance it seems to have been a cultural practice, and many cultures have unnecessary genital surgery,'' Mr Mason said.

"In this country we've outlawed female circumcision, but for some reason it's still OK to circumcise a boy. I can't see why it's better to cut a boy than to cut a girl. There's no logic.''

Mr Mason said he was shocked the procedure would be carried out in backyards, saying the risk of complications existed at the best hospitals in the world.

HS would not comment as the matter is before the courts.

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