Tuesday, February 18, 2014

EASTERN CAPE: Nine boys lose penises in botched circumcisions

Times Live (Soth Africa)
February 14, 2014

At least 9 penis amputations after traditional circumcision

by Katharine Child
Initiates who needed medical attention during the traditional circumcision season were often stigmatised by their communities.

Some men in the Eastern Cape who developed infections refused to go to hospitals and some had parents who prevented them from accessing medical treatment.

This is according to the Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga departments of health that recently reported back to parliament on the 2013 circumcision deaths.

Despite interventions by health officials, this happened:
  • 43 people died in the Eastern Cape from circumcisions last year;
  • Nine had their penis amputated;
  • There were 31 botched circumcision deaths in Mpumalanga;
In the Eastern Cape, the biggest loss of life was caused by infected penises, leading to septicaemia.
Dr Dingeman Rijken, who had worked in Pondoland , Eastern Cape, said traditional leaders were not interested in working with doctors . After meetings with them, chiefs spread messages that medical circumcision was bad.

A traditional nurse was successful in setting up three centralised circumcision schools in Western Pondoland in December. Negotiations to improve the situation in Eastern Pondoland fell flat.

BRAZIL, MEXICO, USA: Circumcision does not protect against HPV

They tortured the data, but it wouldn't confess.

February 12, 2014

Circumcision does not protect against HPV

But it may slow the clearance of a cancer-causing HPV strain
by Morten Frisch
[A] New well-designed cohort study from Brazil, Mexico and the United States with more than 4000 participants pulls one of the American Academy of Pediatrics' (AAP) most promoted health claims apart. Overall, during follow-up there was no difference in rates of new HPV infections between circumcised and intact men in the study.

HPV is the group of sexually transmitted agents (human papillomaviruses) that cause both anogenital warts (aka condyloma) and neoplastic lesions and cancers of both male and female genitalia, the anus and the tonsils.

Two types of HPV, known as HPV6 and HPV16, are responsible for the majority of all HPV-associated lesions, including genital warts (HPV6) and cancers (HPV16). While the overall findings of this study were negative, meaning that it found no overall differences between circumcised and intact men, among the few type-specific differences that were actually found, was a significantly reduced ability among circumcised men to clear their newly acquired HPV6 and HPV16 infections. This is particularly worrisome, because it is well-established that persistent HPV16 infection is the initial step on the path from HPV acquisition to cancer.

With this study, one of Brian J. Morris' and the AAP's most cherished arguments in favor of circumcision falls apart. Notably in industrialized parts of the world where the burden of heterosexually acquired HIV/AIDS - the main health problem circumcision is postulated to reduce - is low.

The paper must be even more disturbing to the pro-circumcision lobby, because two of its authors, Xavier Castellsague and Francois Xavier Bosch, are prominent co-authors of several prior papers suggesting a protective effect of circumcision against HPV infection, including the 2002 landmark study in the acclaimed New England Journal of Medicine [Rebutted on this site.], whose findings are now seriously undermined by their new and methodologically stronger study.
It seems there may soon be one pro-circumcision myth less to fight.

Monday, February 10, 2014

JERUSALEM: Baby in hospital after circumcision

Israel National News
February 6, 2014

Baby Hospitalized after Circumcision

An eight-day-old boy was admitted to Hadassah Mount Scopus Hospital in Jerusalem, Thursday, with heavy bleeding following ritual circumcision (brit milah in Hebrew).

The family took the baby part of the way to the hospital and transferred him to the Magen David Adom (Red Star of David) emeregency service, next to the Hizme Crossing at the entrance to northern Jerusalem. At last report, the baby's condition was described as stable.

TENNESSEE: Clinic uncooperative after botched circumcision

WMCTV (Tennessee)
February 6, 2014

Shelby Co. commissioner seeks answers in botched circumcision case

by Nicole Harris and Janice Broach
(WMC-TV) - A mother is finally getting closer to answers after her son's botched circumcision last August.

"We want to make sure that they have a plan in place to make sure this does not happen ever again to another child. This was a horrible thing,' said Shelby County Commissioner Henri Brooks.

Brooks wants answers about how Christ Community Health Services allegedly botched the circumcision of three-month-old Ashton Rhodes.

Back in November, Maggie Rhodes told Action News 5 that she took her son to the clinic for a circumcision in August. She felt something was wrong because she could hear her son's cries through the closed door.

"When he was in the room, he was screaming like life and death; like there wasn't no tomorrow," said Rhodes.

Commissioner Brooks says Rhodes, one of her constituents, contacted her. Brooks set up a meeting with commission Chairman James Harvey in his office.

"We have invited Christ Community Center representatives, as well as asked them to bring documents that will include certification of the credentials for staff also the health care professionals involved in this procedure," said Brooks.

Christ Community Health Services, who has a health care contract with Shelby County, declined the invite for the meeting on Thursday.

Brooks says she was traumatized when she found out about Ashton's situation.

"It was a baby. Can you imagine the pain a baby having to go through that kind of pain?"

Christ Community did not respond to Action News 5's request for comment about the meeting, but the first person who answered the phone cited HIPAA laws.

Earlier story

OSLO: "Norway will never outlaw circumcision" - Foreign Minister

Never is a long time....

European Jewish Press
February 5, 2014

'The Norwegian Government has never considered banning circumcision and it never will'

by Maud Swinnen
BRUSSELS (EJP)---The Norwegian government has never considered banning circumcision and ‘’it never will,’’ is the message of Norway's Foreign Minister conveyed Wednesday by the Ambassador to Belgium, Niels Engelschion, to a Jewish delegation during a meeting in Brussels.

In November, Norway's Children Ombudswoman proposed to ban non-medical circumcision of minors and Norway's Health Minister announced himself that his Government was pursuing a legislation banning circumcision in the Scandinavian country and that the Parliament was expected to vote on it in April.

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director General of the European Jewish Association (EJA) had called on the Norwegian Foreign and Health Ministers ‘’to act decisively in order to ensure freedom of religion in the country.’’

He also urged Israeli officials to turn to their Norwegian counterparts and protest this ‘’devastating’’ legislation for Jewish communities across the country.

In response, Norwegian Foreign Minister Borge Brende asked the Ambassador in Brussels to meet with Rabbi Margolin and European Jewish Community Center (EJCC) Director Avi Tawil to make the pledge that the Norwegian government ‘’will never consider banning circumcision in the country".

Ambassador Engelschion added that the government respects the Jewish community and will protect its freedom of religion.

Rabbi Margolin thanked the Ambassador for his government's commitment and said: "Calls to ban non-medical circumcision of minors in Norway, as it is a violation of human rights, are not supported by any scientific facts. Modern medicine, including non- Jewish international health organizations advocate circumcision and its contribution to preventing diseases.’’

In other Scandinavian countries, Sweden and Denmark, medical associations have also recommended banning non-medical circumcision of boys. Sweden’s Minister for Integration, Erik Ullenhag, assured however that existing rules that allow for ritual circumcision would not be changed.

Earlier story

NEW YORK: World Jewish Congress opposes Swedish and Danish doctors

European Jewish Press
January 31, 2014

World Jewish Congress protests calls by Swedish and Danish physicians to ban religious circumcision

by Maud Swinnen Friday, 31 January 2014 15:30
NEW YORK/STOCKHOLM/ (EJP)---The World Jewish Congress has strongly protested calls by Swedish and Danish medical associations for a ban [age-restriction] on religious male circumcision.

In Sweden, the recommendation came in a resolution unanimously adopted last week by the ethics council of the Sweden Medical Association — a union whose members constitute 85 percent of the country’s physicians, according to Swedish daily newspaper Svenska Dagbladet.

It recommended setting 12 as the minimum age for the procedure and the boy’s consent.

Jewish religious circumcision, or brit milah, is performed eight days after birth. Muslims typically circumcise boys before they turn the age of 10.

In Denmark, the Danish College of General Practitioners, which has 3,000 members, argued that non-medical circumcision of boys amounted to ‘’abuse and mutilation.’’

“We are not religious experts, but for medical reasons, we cannot approve a procedure that removes tissue from the genitals in which the risk is so great for serious complications” said the Swedish association’s ethics officer, Thomas Flodin.

The recommendation, which is non-binding, also said that circumcision should be performed only by physicians in a medical facility.

In October, the children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — released a joint declaration proposing a ban on circumcision.

Swedish Minister for Integration, Erik Ullenhag, said existing rules that allow for religious circumcision would not be changed. Current Swedish legislation states that both medical and non-medical circumcision must be carried out by a licensed professional. Jewish ritual circumcisers (mohels) receive licenses from the national health board, but are required to be attended by a doctor or nurse during the procedure.

‘’The recommendation of the two medical associations is an insulting and intrusive assault on religious freedom,” reacted World Jewish Congress (WJC) CEO Robert Singer.

He added in a statement : “Religious circumcision, a procedure that has been practiced safely for millennia, confers notable health benefits. It is a bulwark against urinary-tract infections, cervical cancer and HIV-AIDS, which is why it is being promoted heavily by medical authorities in Africa and other places. Given the compelling religious freedom and health reasons for religious circumcision, the Swedish and Danish medical associations need to recognize that their call for a ban represents an appeal to xenophobia and ignorance and not enlightened science.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated ...

Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Director General of the European Jewish Association (EJA), an umbrella group of Jewish organisations active on European level, who has been leading the fight against attempts to ban circumcision and ritual slaughter of animals, said his organization was conducting a join campaign with European Muslim leaders in an attempt to overturn various legislation that ban kosher butchering and circumcision “two traditions that are sacred both to Jews and Muslims.”

NEW YORK: Metzitzah: Another baby gets herpes

Vos Iz Neias
January 29, 2014

New York, NY - NYC Health Dept. Issues "Alert" To Medical Community After New Case Of Neonatal Herpes From MBP

by Glen Silver
New York, NY - The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has issued an “alert” to the city’s medical community following a January 2014 case of neonatal herpes following the Jewish circumcision ritual metzitzah b’peh, or MBP.

According to the document, the newborn was the product of a full term pregnancy and underwent the MBP ritual on his 8th day of life, after which a doctor conducting a routine check-up the following week noticed a rash on the child.

After a series of unsuccessful treatments, HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus, type 1) was suspected and specimens were collected and sent off to the New York State Wadsworth Center Laboratories.

The child was hospitalized for treatment after the diagnosis of HSV-1 was confirmed.

According to the release it is the 14th laboratory-confirmed case of MBP-related HSV-1 on record at the Health Dept. since 2000, two of which resulted in death—-while yet another two young boys suffered brain damage.

The issue of MBP has continued to be a hot-button topic for New Yorkers, more specifically New York’s Jewish community after former-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s implementation of parental consent forms sparked outrage.

At a January 16 news conference, new Mayor Bill de Blasio doubled down on his campaign promise to work with Jewish community members and religious leaders to actively seek an alternative to the consent forms, but said that for the time being they will remain in place.

Earlier story

STRASBOURG: Circumcision "a child's rights issue"

The Washington Times
January 28, 2014

To cut or not to cut? That is the circumcision question roiling Europe

[Earlier headline: In Europe, religious leaders battle doctors on circumcision]
by Cheryl Wetzstein
The political battle over circumcision is intensifying in Europe, as medical professionals and their allies have renewed a push to curb the procedure for infants and young boys.

But in a debate being closely watched by U.S. doctors and health care officials, governments across the European Union appear to be backing away from outright legal bans in the face of powerful opposition from medical supporters of the practice and faith leaders who say religiously observant parents should have the right to have their sons circumcised without social objection.


A committee of the European Parliament met Tuesday to discuss the topic once again. The Council of Europe, the continent’s biggest human rights organization, passed a resolution in October calling for a critical look at “nontherapeutic circumcisions.”

Children’s rights are human rights, and one of those rights is “physical integrity,” Marlene Rupprecht, former lead researcher on the issue for the council, said Tuesday. The issue “has a lot of baggage,” she said, but argued that the rights of the child must be distinguished from the rights of parents. [The pro-circumcision lobbyists completely failed to do this.]


No European country bans circumcision of infants and boys, and some analysts predict that efforts to outlaw the practice altogether will simply force circumcision underground. [An argument never used about female genital cutting.]

But efforts to curtail circumcision are growing. The Council of Europe’s resolution is nonbinding, but could be used one day as the basis of law in some of the council’s 47 member states.

European leaders also are working on a strategy to promote the rights of the child by 2015, and one of the main objectives is to end “all forms of violence against children.”

Circumcision has been identified as a concern because it is painful, not medically justified and an irreversible procedure to which newborns and boys cannot consent.

In September, the national ombudsmen for children in six Nordic countries — Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland and Finland — said nontherapeutic circumcision performed on a child who cannot consent “violates fundamental medical-ethical principles.” Moreover, the critics said, such circumcisions conflict with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says children have a right to express their views on all matters that concern them and must be protected against “traditional practices that may be prejudicial to their health.”

In Tuesday’s session in Strasbourg, Dr. Wolfram Hartmann said he and other German pediatricians have concluded that circumcision is not harmless nor pain-free, and parents cannot consent to such a procedure for their boys.

Boston psychologist Ronald Goldman said he wished in particular to address his fellow Jews: “Circumcision is a trauma,” he said. Some infants go into shock because of the pain, and some men experience long-term physical and psychological problems.

United Kingdom film producer Victor Schonfeld, whose anti-circumcision documentary, “It’s a Boy,” was shown prior to the council session, noted that if circumcision were as revered as others say, men would have the procedure as adults. Instead, it is forced on children who cannot resist, said Mr. Schonfeld, who has publicly regretted that he, as a Jewish father, put his newborn son through circumcision.

But religious leaders and their allies are rallying in defense of the practice and reminding their audiences that circumcision is has deep historical roots, rarely causes harm and is protected by freedom of religion — which means objections amount to an attack of faith.

Circumcision has “obvious and clear benefits,” Istanbul pediatric urologist Dr. Mesrur Selcuk Silay told the Strasbourg meeting, citing data on preventing sexual disease, including work conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics. [and by Professor Brian Morris...]

Dr. Bernard Lobel, a French urologist and surgeon who has seen “1,000 penises a year” in his professional practice, rejected the idea that circumcision deforms the male organ. How can people say circumcision for religious reasons is mutilation, but circumcision for medical reasons is not? he asked. It is “not a question of mutilation.” [How? In exactly the same way we can say that hand-amputation for religious reasons is mutilation but hand-amputation for medical reasons is not. He actually says medical hand amputation is mutilation, but denies that the foreskin has any sexual function, citing Brian Morris.]

A second film shown before the meeting was produced by the Israeli government, which has observer status at the Council of Europe. The film showed how circumcision is an integral part of religious life for Jews and how it has little or no medical disadvantages when performed by experienced people.

Other circumcision supporters at the meeting said complaints about the procedure were rare from adults, that children do not have a say in other procedures, such as getting their tonsils removed, and that respect for diverse cultural and religious traditions was important.


Earlier story

EASTERN CAPE: Doctor who showed botched circumcisions defended, attacked

The New Age (South Africa)
January 29, 2014

'Ban traditional circumcision'

by Sithandiwe Velaphi
A world renowned medico, Dr Robert WM Frater, has come out in support of a website [NSFW] set up by a former Eastern Cape-based state doctor that has exposed irregularities on circumcision in the province.

Frater, who operates in South Africa and England, said he first observed irregularities in the custom in the late 1940s when he visited the Eastern Cape at the time that he was still a medical student. [And he's done nothing about it for more than sixty years?]

Dr Dingeman Rijken, a Dutch doctor who worked at the department of health’s Holy Cross Hospital in Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, set up a website to expose malpractices in traditional circumcision.
Rijken did this after 43 boys died last month due to botched circumcisions.

A total of 39 boys died in June last year, bringing the number of boys who died in 2013 to 82.

Frater said: “There are complications severe enough to cause death and when Dr Dingeman Rijken documented these on the web.”

The chairperson of the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Chief Ngangomhlaba Matanzima, said Rijken had undermined the people of the province and their customs.

“It is clear that he would like Dr Rijken to cease his efforts to help.”

Frater is of the view that traditional circumcision should be aborted and replaced by medical circumcision. [Why replaced at all?]

“The time has come to start the process of removing traditional circumcision as part of the initiation rite,” he said.

The Film and Publication Board (FPB), which apparently called Rijken to come and explain reasons for setting up the website following a complaint from the Community Development Foundation of South Africa, said although the website was harmful to children under the age of 13, it was also educative.

“The website contains material which may be very disturbing and harmful to children [under the age of 13].

However it must be borne in mind that even though the website contains graphic images, it is a bona fide scientific publication with great educative value.

The website highlights the malice that bedevils this rich cultural practice,” the board said.
Matanzima said there was “nothing educative” about the website.

He blamed the FPB for not doing what it was supposed to do – which was to shut it down.
“Is exposing manhood an education? These are kids belonging to the community. Even if there was consent from them, this is damaging.”

“We as custodians of this custom have not authorised this doctor to do what he has done.”

“We as black people respect other people’s cultures even if there are wrongdoings.”

Earlier story

SYDNEY: Man charged with taking baby girl to Jakarta for genital cutting

Sky News
January 28, 2014

Baby girl circumcised in Indonesia

An Australian father charged with organising to have his baby daughter circumcised allegedly travelled to Indonesia for the procedure.

The NSW man, who cannot be named, took his then nine-month-old girl overseas, where she was circumcised sometime between February and March of 2012, police allege.

But it wasn't until the girl's mother took her to a doctor six months later that authorities were alerted to what had allegedly happened.

Following an investigation, the father was arrested on December 31 last year by officers attached to the Sex Crimes Squad.

He was later charged with aiding, abetting or procuring female genital mutilation.

Police have previously said that it was unclear in what country the alleged procedure took place.
But papers tendered during the father's brief appearance at Manly Local Court on Tuesday state it took place in Jakarta.

The girl had her clitoral tissue removed and underwent a labial fusion, the documents state.

The man said nothing during the appearance in which his lawyer applied for a national suppression order on his identity and that of his wife and daughter.

The court heard the father recently moved to Victoria where he remains on bail.

The father is believed to be the first person to have been charged in NSW with procuring a genital procedure abroad.

However, it is the second prosecution in the state of the practice.

In 2012, eight members of a small religious order in Sydney - including a sheikh, a retired nurse and two parents - were charged over the female genital mutilation of two sisters, aged six and seven.

Their case remains before the courts.

Community Services Minister Pru Goward said earlier this month that anecdotal evidence showed the practice was 'more common than the reports would suggest'.

She said the crime often only came to light when the child suffered a complication from the procedure or there was a marital breakdown.

The father is due to appear at Downing Centre Local Court in March.

Earlier story

NAIROBI: More than six men forcibly circumcised

The Standard (Kenya)
January 27, 2014

Eldoret artisan drugged, forcefully circumcised by people he knows

by Kevin Tunoi
UASIN GISHU: Police in Eldoret have launched a manhunt for six suspects and a medical practitioner who forcefully circumcised a man on Sunday at a private clinic in Peris area.

The Jua Kali artisan alleges that he was kidnapped and drugged by men known to him before he was forcefully cut.

The 21 year old victim further stated that more than six other men have undergone the involuntary procedure but have not reported to the police because they feel ashamed.

The victim noted that the exercise has been ongoing for quite a long time unabated in Kimumu area where a squad has been forcefully targeting uncircumcised males.

The man narrated that he had just finished his welding job and was walking with a friend when he was forcefully bundled into a pick-up truck belonging to one of the perpetrators.

“I had just seen off my friend and was heading home when I was ambushed by the men who took me to the clinic for the cut,” he explained.

The victim said he attempted to fight off the attackers even biting some of the men but it was in vain as they overpowered him.

He stated that on reaching the medical facility he was held down and the medical practitioner administered an unknown injection.

“The men ordered me to undress and when I declined they held me down and the doctor injected me then I lost consciousness and when I came to I had been circumcised,” he said.

The victim expressed fears of having been infected because he does not know if the procedure was conducted using sterile equipment.

Uasin Gishu Jua Kali artisans’ chairman who took the victim to hospital before reporting the matter to the police stated that the perpetrators had infringed the rights of the victim.


The artisans’ chairman noted that the health of the victim could be at risk because he may have contracted some diseases.

Eldoret East OCPD Nelson Taliti confirmed ... that they are hunting for the suspects.


He added that they are continuing with investigation and further charges could be preferred against the accused persons.