Monday, March 17, 2014

KENYA: Female cutting spreads HIV

Daily Astorian (Oregon)
March 14, 2014

Woman combats female mutilation

by Kathy Aney
Sometimes, tradition trumps reason.
That's how Rachael Tengbom sees the practice of female circumcision performed on young girls in her native Kenya. Tengbom, now a Kennewick, Wash., counselor, spoke to an audience at Blue Mountain Community College on Wednesday.

Tengbom, part of the Maasai culture, said only about two percent of girls escape circumcision in her tribe. Though the practice is illegal, the law is widely ignored.

"You can't be a woman without female genital mutilation," she said. "You go through this between 8 and 14. They don't use pain pills -- you have to face the knife like a woman."

Tengbom cited the World Health Organization, which reported that the ritual offers zero health benefits and causes disfigurement and other lasting problems.

"When you ask the Maasai why they put their daughters through this ritual, they say it's part of us," she said.
... The surgery is done en masse, she said, and usually with the same knife. Not surprisingly, the spread of AIDS is a common byproduct.

Girls don't receive much education and are expected to marry young. Circumcision is part of preparing for marriage, which is typically arranged and accompanied by a dowry of cattle. ...

Tengbom said the tradition is slowly changing through the efforts of multiple organizations, including her own, Voices of Hope. The group offers a safe house and funds education for Kenyan girls.


UNITED NATIONS: "Circumcision protected by freedom of religion"

Jerusalem Post
March 14, 2014

UN official says circumcision protected by freedom of religion

by Tovah Lazaroff
A United Nations official gave a boost to the battle Jewish organizations are waging to protect the ancient ritual of circumcision, when he told the Human Rights Council it was a right that should be protected.

“Freedom of religion and belief in its application goes far beyond any pre-defined lists of classical religions,” Heiner Bielefeldt said in Geneva on Wednesday. “It protects human beings in their broad variety of convictions, and also conviction-based practices. So issues like male circumcision are part of that.” [And human sacrifice?]

Bielefeldt, who is the UNHRC’s special rapporteur on freedom of religion, made his brief comment on circumcision one day after he delivered a global report to the council on freedom of religion.

The report did not deal with circumcision, but the World Jewish Congress discussed the issue when it addressed the council and Bielefeldt on Wednesday morning, in a statement delivered by Lisa Rahmani.
Rahmani, a member of the WJC’s Jewish Diplomatic Corps program, urged the council to protect Jewish male circumcision and shechita, ritual slaughter of animals. She added that religious Muslims who eat halal meat also needed protection for their ritual slaughter practices.

Shechita and circumcision are cornerstones of Jewish religious practice that date back thousands of years, Rahmani said.

“However, today we are witnessing an increasing number of government actions that seek to condemn and ban these religious practices,” Rahmani said. “We call on the special rapporteur to recognize that these practices are forms of religious expression, to recognize that they are not trumped by other values [... such as the human right to security of the person?], and to ask him to consider limitations on ritual slaughter and circumcision as violations of freedom of religion in his next report to the council.”


“In the same way, it is ironic and distressing to observe that circumcision is considered to be a mutilation when performed for religious reason, but is acceptable, and often encouraged, if performed for medical reasons,” Rahmani said.

[Is it "ironic and disressing" that hand amputation is considered to be a mutilation when performed for a religious reason, but acceptable and often encouraged when peformed for medical reasons, such as after serious burn or injury?]


LIBERIA: Boy loses penis to elusive circumciser
March 11, 2014

Liberia: Circumcision Goes Wrong - 1-Yr-Old Loses Manhood [sic] to Cutting

Monrovia - Donors are pumping millions in the health sector of Liberia ... but the country's health sector continues to perform below par, not meeting the needs of the majority of the population.

In many towns and villages across Liberia, access to a nearby health center is difficult as people commute over long distances ...

Even in Monrovia, the capital city, the health situation is still dangerous with unskilled doctors and other medical practitioners attending to patients. Little, Phillip Zinnah, Jr., one year, seven months old, hope of becoming a father is at the verge of becoming impossible as he is the latest victim of unskilled medics. On a fateful Sunday afternoon, January 5, this year, Little Zinnah faced the shock of his life when a 'doctor' only identified as "Dr. Nimely" completely cut off his penis in an attempt to have him circumcised.

Phillip Zinnah, Sr. 25, father of the boy explained that he took his son to the TB Annex to one Dr. Nimley ... ["] I have been hearing about him and he told me he can do the work. He charged me 600 Liberian dollars [$US 7.00] to do the work right ... I been to majority of the hospitals and the doctors said the boy penis is damaged and we need to go for advance surgery out of the country".

Dr. Nimley is said to have abandoned his patient, an innocent child who is currently facing severe pain as he is unable to urinate, with a stomach swollen.

"The doctor has not made any move, all the hospitals we went, they said it was the Doctor error, but he continues to deny it, all the hospitals I have been going, he is not with me. When I call him on the phone, he can't come; he is not picking my call. Sometimes when I get him on the phone, he will make palava with me, he says if that is the way I want to take it, I should carry him to court, he has money to get lawyer", Zinnah lamented in an interview.

Police let him go
The father who crushes rocks for survival, says he reported the case to the Police, but while the police was preparing to send them to court, he could not allow his son bleed and cry while he goes to court.

"I carried the case to Zone Three, they fix a document for them to carry us to court, I look at the boy condition, it was worse at the time so I have been from hospital to hospital. I have been to JFK two different times, Catholic hospital the doctor said it is a hard work, ELWA, James Davis Hospital, Rennie, all say the work is hard. They say I should get to TB Annex and get documents from there and Annex will tell me which hospital to go. I went to TB Annex, I met the administrator, she said the Doctor did the work on his own under a secret. She says, they are not circumcising there so they do not know about it. Three persons doing the work, he Dr. Nimley, Pewee and ... .", Zinnah explained.

According to Zinnah, an administrator at the TB Annex told him sorry, but indicated that the Doctor who performed the operation should bear his own punishment. Zinnah said he was convinced by Dr. Nimley who claimed to have performed such operation for over 50 years in paying for his son to get circumcised.

"The Doctor said he has been doing it for the past 50 years, ... Last week the [son's] penis hole was closed, he was not urinating, so he has been feeling pain, his stomach getting big, urinating crying, can't sleep. His skin is hot", said Zinnah.

Appeal for help
Zinnah is calling on the Government and other well meaning Liberians and foreign friends to help save his son's life through surgery abroad.

"... I feel so bad, this is my only child, now I am not working, I am doing rock business. All the money I have, I have used ... ".

'Doctor on Run'?
The man only known as Dr. Nimley when contacted responded to his call on one occasion, but after FrontPageAfrica inquired on the situation he switched off the phone. Several other calls were unanswered ...

CAIRO: Doctor and father to stand trial for girl's death after genital cutting

Middle East Online
March 11, 2014

Egypt doctor faces trial for fatal female circumcision

Although banned in 2008, female genital mutilation is still rampant in Egypt.

CAIRO - A doctor in Egypt will face trial for performing a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl, a judicial official said on Tuesday.

The 14-year-old girl's father who took her to the doctor for the procedure will also face trial, the official said.
Although banned in 2008, female genital mutilation is still rampant in Egypt, especially in rural areas where many believe it is part of their faith.

The doctor in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura performed the dangerous procedure at a private clinic.
The operation involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes even more extreme mutilation, which proponents argue 'purifies' women from sexual temptation.

The practice has been common among both Muslims and minority Christians, said Nehad Abolkomsan, who heads the Egyptian Centre for Women's Rights.

A survey in 2000 said the procedure had been carried out on 97 percent of the country's married women.
The fight against the practice was dealt a setback by Islamists after president Hosni Mubarak's overthrow in 2011, who argued women's rights laws were vestiges of the dictator's regime, Abolkomsan said.

She said efforts to reach out to rural areas to end the practice had been partially successful, but more government supervision was needed.

"This will continue to need a lot of work and effort by the state to apply the law," she said.

"Most cases don't get to the attention of the prosecutor, unless the girl suffers health consequences."

The practice is also common in other African and Middle Eastern states.

The World Health Organisation estimates that between 100 million and 140 million women have been victims of genital mutilation worldwide.

JERUSALEM: Attorney General disputes Rabbinical Court's right to rule on circumcision

Jerusalem Post
March 6, 2014

AG: Family court, not rabbinical court, should decide on circumcision

Weinstein says family court would order circumcision if found to be in the best interest of the child.
by Yonah Jeremy Bob

Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday wrote to the High Court of Justice that the family courts, and not the rabbinical courts, should decide whether a baby gets a circumcision where the parents disagree on the issue and are in divorce proceedings.

He explained that the issue of circumcision did not fall under the heading of "divorce issues" in the rabbinical courts' jurisdiction since it was not directly related to severing relations between a couple – the legal test for that jurisdiction.

Despite his view that the family courts should decide, Weinstein added that the family court certainly could, and in some cases likely would, order a circumcision if it found that to be in the best interest of the child.
On February 26, a seven justice panel of the High Court heard the dispute in which the Rabbinical High Court had ordered the mother of a one-year-old boy to circumcise her son in keeping with the wishes of the boy's father.

At the end of the hearing, the High Court had requested Weinstein's opinion on the broader issue of whether family courts or rabbinical courts should decide the issue in general.

On February 11, Weinstein had already written the High Court that he believed that in this particular case, the rabbinical courts had exceeded its authority in intervening on the circumcision issue, noting that anesthesia and a special surgical procedure would be required which removed the issue from the rabbinical courts' authority.

Weinstein reiterated this position about the specific case at hand in his response to the High Court's question about what the general rule should be if no special medical issues were involved.


The High Court began the February 26 hearing saying that it centered around three questions: does any judicial body have authority to intervene on the issue, do the rabbinical courts specifically have authority and if the rabbinical courts have some degree of authority, is there a basis for the High Court to give the rabbinical courts directives in using that authority?

The mother's lawyer Avigdor Feldman told the High Court that she opposed the practice of circumcision and rejected the rabbinical courts' claim of authority based on the best interests of the boy.

Feldman said that the rabbinical courts' claim was based on an incorrect interpretation that circumcision was a medical procedure in the boy's best interests, whereas Feldman said that there was no medical necessity, and that the issue was merely an ideological dispute between the parents.

He added that the question of whether to do a circumcision was between an individual and god, and was beyond any human court's right to interfere.


Lawyer Shimon Yakobi, representing the rabbinical courts said that it was crucial to uphold their authority in recognizing them as equal and valid courts within the judicial system.

Following the hearing, the mother said, "'Social pressure is no reason to force cutting my son's body as nature, the universe naturally created him."

All of the parties involved now have seven days to respond to Weinstein's position before the court reconvenes on the issue.

Earlier story

DARWIN: ABC's coverage of circumcision botch "insensitive"

The Drum
March 6, 2014

ABC circumcision reports were culturally insensitive

by Murray McLaughlin
In January, the ABC reported on an Aboriginal initiation ceremony involving circumcision in which three boys were injured. Below, Northern Land Council media officer Murray McLaughlin writes that the reporting smacked of value judgement and cultural superiority. The ABC's head of current affairs Bruce Belsham writes in defence of the investigation here.

Over more than 35 years I have sat in many long meetings in Aboriginal communities in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory. But the meeting on February 19 this year at Borroloola had a real poignancy. About 40 Aboriginal men were gathered at the Northern Land Council's regional office and they were hurting.

I was there in my job as media officer for the Northern Land Council, with NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi and two other members of his executive, to hear the anguished reactions of men, young and old, to a story that the ABC ran on January 22 about a traditional initiation ceremony before Christmas that had gone "horribly wrong".

The ABC had learned that three young men had to be flown from Borroloola to hospital in Darwin after they had been circumcised. Norman Hermant, the ABC's social affairs correspondent, travelled all the way from Melbourne to Borroloola, a small, very remote and deprived town in the Northern Territory's Gulf country, with "just one mobile number in hand and a list of other 'less likely' numbers". He has written here about his assignment.

The one number belonged to the health centre's ambulance driver, William Miller, whose grandson was one of the three who were flown to Darwin. He was most upset when he saw his grandson bleeding from his circumcision cut and was the main interviewee in Hermant's story, versions of which were shown on 7.30 and other ABC programs, including online.

Miller appeared nervous at the meeting I attended and his sense of upset was, at first, still apparent. But, catching the mood of those before him, he apologised a couple of times for having caused offence by speaking to the ABC about his grandson's injury - thereby offending precepts of Aboriginal law, as the men attest in their statement below.

The greatest sense of offence felt by the men was reserved for the ABC story itself. When the NLC party arrived from Darwin, the chairman was presented with a typed statement, which encapsulated the sentiments forcefully articulated later at the meeting of men. It is reproduced here in full with the permission of the men attending the meeting:
We, the Garrawa, Yanyula, Mara and Gurdanji people of Borroloola are deeply hurt and disappointed at the recent story told by the ABC about our Young Men's Initiation Ceremony. This ceremony has existed in our cultures for thousands of years and is very sacred! The sacredness of our ritual strictly forbids viewing and comment by the public. Open discussion in front of women and those who are uninitiated is a very serious infringement. In the past such an infringement would have met with dire consequences. Moreover, we feel that we have been ridiculed in the story and demand that the record be set straight. We have been conducting this sacred ritual in Borroloola area for generations in a safe and sensible manner. It should be understood that there were more than 100 boys initiated in the recent ceremony period without incident. In later years, we have carried out the practice with the support of the Borroloola Medical Clinic but in our own environment not at the Clinic. In the past we had the support of Aboriginal Male Health Workers and especially the support of Dr Peter Fitzpatrick while he was a permanent local based doctor. Changes in Health Department policy means that the community now lacks a permanent doctor. An integrated Community Model would certainly benefit the community and prevent such occurrences. We strongly believe that in this insistence our sacred practices should not have been put in the spotlight. We do have a right to privacy which should have been respected. The community is in shock and our old people in particular are deeply hurt. We demand an apology. The way this story portrayed one of our most sacred rituals has deeply offended us and we feel that it has impacted on our Cultural Integrity!
The statement, with its request for an apology, has been sent to the ABC. NLC chairman Samuel Bush-Blanasi has asked for it to be handled quickly because feelings are running high out Borroloola way.
Hermant's report has damaged the previously satisfactory relationship between the Aboriginal people of Borroloola and the ABC. It has also caused ostracism of Miller, in spite of his apology, by the overwhelmingly Aboriginal town. Worse, there's a widened rift between the Aboriginal townspeople and the medical clinic.


Hermant reported that the NT Child Abuse Taskforce had received two notifications about the incident, but an investigation had not identified any wrongdoing.

The Northern Territory Attorney General, John Elferink (a lawyer and former policeman with experience in the bush and exposure to Aboriginal cultural practices), accepted that finding.

"No abuse was found to have occurred," Elferink told Hermant, "and in the absence of that, and in the absence of criminality ... it's a parental decision on how to bring up the kids," he said.

Earlier story

ZIMBABWE: Circumcised men abandoning condoms

Voice of America (Zimbabwe)
March 5, 2014

Circumcised Men Abandoning Condoms

WASHINGTON DC — Ernest Dhlamini of Mbabane city, Swaziland, was circumcised in 2006, to enjoy what he calls a clean life.

Dhlamini says he is worried that a large number of men circumcised under current programs funded by international organizations, are now abandoning condoms and engaging in unsafe sex.

He says this is a blow to programs implemented in 2009 by some African nations in an effort to curb the spread of HIV.

“There are many circumcised men who think that by being circumcised they can now have unprotected sex at will. They think that they can no longer contract HIV.”

This promiscuous behaviour is attracting the attention of some married women, who are now blocking their partners from the medical procedure.

Zimbabwean senator, Sithembile Mlotshwa, believes male circumcision is causing a lot of havoc in most southern African communities as circumcised men forgo the use of condoms.

"You tend to think that if this man goes through circumcision he is going to be too much. So, you are thinking I have been married to this man for so many years then why is he preparing his organ.”

Mlotshwa argues that those abandoning condoms believe they are too clean to contract HIV.

“After you are circumcised then you ask why you are protecting yourself.”

Commercial sex workers have taken advantage of the situation, charging more money for providing services to circumcised men who don’t care whether the ladies of the night are HIV positive or not. Two commercial sex workers operating in Zimbabwe’s second largest city, Bulawayo, say these circumcised men are having sex with them at their own risk.

“These circumcised men say they do not have any diseases because they were circumcised. In most cases they offer us a lot of money. One of the circumcised men I had sex with on the first day gave me $100. I am now HIV positive but there is nothing I can do. This man is always coming back for more sex even though he does not know my HIV status.”

Officials in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Swaziland say they are fighting these myths among circumcised men to ensure they do not contract and spread HIV.

To worsen the situation in these nations, some people strongly believe that foreskins are being used for witchcraft purposes.

Some traditional healers confirm that they have been approached by business people seeking foreskins to boost their enterprises.


Some HIV/AIDS experts say there is a need for further research on the effectiveness of male circumcision as some circumcised men may be spreading HIV at an alarming rate.

ZIMBABWE: Senator condemns infant circumcision

Southern Eye (Zimbabwe)
March 2, 2014

Senator raises dust over circumcision

WASHINGTON DC — A Zimbabwean legislator says the Health ministry should stop circumcising children under the 2009 medical male circumcision programme.

Matobo senator Sithembile Mlotshwa said children should be allowed to make their own choices when they grow up instead of being circumcised under this programme funded by international donors.

Mlotshwa said: “I want to take our health minister to task because I believe that you don’t have to circumcise infants.

“In our Constitution, everyone is born with a right to life and I think it is wrong for a father and mother to sit down and decide to circumcise this young child who is a month old whereas the father was circumcised at the age of 40.

“This circumcised man’s parents gave him all these years to mature and know the uses of all the organs of his body so as to decide how best to remake what is God-given.

“So then why does this person want to agree with his wife to circumcise an infant who is a third person who has a right to be fully developed as he is, so that he makes his own decisions about his body organs?”

The controversial lawmaker said she will soon introduce a motion in Parliament to challenge the circumcision of children.


JERUSALEM: High Court considering Rabbinical Court circumcision order

Jerusalem Post
Febraury 26, 2014

Mother petitions court decision ordering her to follow father's request to circumcise son

by Yonah Jeremy Bob
Following a Tuesday hearing before a seven justice panel of the High Court of Justice over whether the Rabbinical High Court can order the mother of a one-year-old boy to circumcise her son in keeping with the wishes of the boy's father, the mother said, "'Social pressure is no reason to force cutting my son's body as nature and the universe naturally created him."

The mother and the father are in divorce proceedings before the Netanya Rabbinical Court which intervened in the parents' dispute over whether to circumcise their son, ruling that it was in the boy's best interests to be circumcised.

The Netanya Rabbinical Court even went a step further, fining the mother NIS 500 per day until she had her son circumcised.

Next, the Rabbinical High Court confirmed the Netanya Rabbinical Court's order.
The identity of all of the family members is under a court gag-order.

Following the Netanya Rabbinical Court's order, the mother on December 18, 2013, petitioned through the Justice Ministry's Legal Assistance Division to the High Court of Justice to intervene on the grounds that the Netanya Rabbinical Court did not have authority over whether parents circumcise their children.

Justice Yoram Danziger froze the Rabbinical Court's ruling the same day the petition was filed.

The High Court then requested Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein's opinion who wrote on February 11 that he also believed that the Rabbinical Court had exceeded its authority in intervening on the circumcision issue.

The High Court began the hearing saying that it centered around three questions: does any judicial body have authority to intervene on the issue, do the rabbinical courts specifically have authority and if the rabbinical courts have some degree of authority, is there a basis for the High Court to give the rabbinical courts directives in using that authority? The mother's lawyer Avigdor Feldman told the High Court that she opposed the practice of circumcision and rejected the rabbinical courts' claim of authority based on the best interests of the boy.

Feldman said that the rabbinical courts' claim was based on an incorrect interpretation that circumcision was a medical procedure in the boy's best interests, whereas Feldman said that there was no medical necessity, and that the issue was merely an ideological dispute between the parents.

He added that the question of whether to do a circumcision was between an individual and god, and was beyond any human court's right to interfere.

The justices questions varied widely with some appearing to agree that stepping into this issue could lead to courts deciding between parents whether their children eat Matza on Passover and some implying that failing to circumcise the boy now could hurt him socially later in life.

Lawyer Shimon Yakobi, representing the rabbinical courts said that it was crucial to uphold their authority in recognizing them as equal and valid courts within the judicial system.

The High Court ordered Weinstein to address certain specific legal issues in greater detail within seven days with the other involved parties responding to Weinstein's final opinion within an additional seven days.

Earlier story

ZIMBABWE: Pain haunts circumcison poster-boy
February 25, 2014

Zimbabwe: Circumcision Pain Haunts Jah Prayzah

by Tawanda Marwizi
Man of the moment Mukudzei Mukombe aka Jah Prayzah has revealed he is having a hard time on stage due fresh circumcision wounds.

The musician was circumcised last week but did not take a break from shows and continues with energetic dances against post-circumcision medical instructions.

Speaking at the sidelines of the 21st February Movement Gala in Marondera on Sunday the musician said he is performing for the love of his fans but he is still in pain.

"I could not abandon my shows that had already been booked and we are going on with stage work but I am in pain," said Jah Prayzah.

The musician was involved in non-surgical PrePex male circumcision and it takes up to two weeks for the initial painful stages to subside.

[All circumcision is surgical. The PrePex method crushes instead of cutting and causes significant pain.]

"I can't divulge the stage of the process is now but what I can say is I am feeling the pain but this should not stop people from getting circumcised. I am braving the pain for the love of my fans," he said.

A health expert from a local circumcision clinic however said people should not be engaged in vigorous activities before circumcision wounds heal.

"People are just encouraged not to get involved vigorous activities because the healing process might be disturbed."

Meanwhile the musician has encouraged men to get circumcised.

"People should just take the responsibility. I might be in pain for this short while but I now know I did this for my healthy safety and for the safety of my partner."

CHICAGO: Female "circumcision" promoted to enable orgasm

Pacific Standard
February 24, 2014

Female Circumcision as Sexual Therapy: The Past and Future of Plastic Surgery?

by Sarah B. Rodriguez
Is a hooded clitoris to blame for many women’s failure to reach orgasm with their sexual partners? Whether it is or not, the procedure is becoming more popular among both women and physicians.

In Chicago, a physician with offices on Michigan Avenue offers clitoral unhooding today for $1,000 (plus operating room fees). His intention? To more easily enable a woman to reach orgasm. Clitoral unhooding falls under the larger category of female genital cosmetic surgeries (FGCS), surgeries that are reportedly becoming more popular among women and physicians. Some physicians, even those who don’t perform FGCS, see them as part of the future of plastic surgery.

The assumption is that these surgeries don’t have much of a past. In fact, there is a long history of surgeries on female genitals—especially on the clitoris—as “sexual enhancement” for women, designed to help them achieve their “proper role” as sexual partners. Over a century ago, another Chicago physician also removed clitoral hoods of women, also as therapy to enable them easier orgasms. The use of female circumcision since the late 1800s to treat a woman’s lack of orgasm reveals a medical understanding of the function of the clitoris as sexual­—an understanding held decades prior to the physiological evidence supplied by William Masters and Virginia Johnson.

Understanding the sexual nature of the clitoris and its importance to female sexual pleasure, some physicians have, for well over a century, diagnosed a condition of the clitoris as the physiological cause for a woman’s failure to have an orgasm with her husband. These physicians thus treated the lack of an orgasm in the marital bed as a sexual disorder treatable through surgery.

In the U.S., the first documented use of female circumcision as a sexual enhancement therapy appeared at a time when the espousal of female orgasm during marital sex was increasingly seen as an important component for a healthy marriage.

By removing the clitoral foreskin, some physicians (as well as non-physicians) thought the clitoris would be more exposed to the penis during penetrative intercourse, and would thus receive direct stimulation from the penis. Physicians performed—and some women or their spouses sought out—female circumcision in order to maintain (or conform to) the sexual behavior deemed culturally appropriate for white, U.S.-born, middle- to upper-class women: orgasm with their husbands.

In the United States, the first documented use of female circumcision as a sexual enhancement therapy occurred in the late 19th century, appearing at a time when the espousal of female orgasm during marital sex was increasingly seen as an important component for a healthy marriage. Physicians performed female circumcision to help married women who wanted—or whose husbands wanted their wives to have—orgasms during martial sex.


ARIZONA: Senate votes to outlaw female genital cutting

Associated Press
February 24, 2014

Arizona Senate approves bill banning female circumcision

PHOENIX -- The Arizona Senate has approved a bill outlawing female genital mutilation that's known as female circumcision.

The Senate unanimously approved the bill on Monday. The bill bars genital mutilation on girls under 18 and would make a first-time violation and conviction punishable by five to 14 years in prison and a minimum $25,000 fine.

Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Judy Burges of Sun City West says female genital mutilation is a problem that's beginning to appear in the United States.

The bill will now go the House of Representatives.

EUROPE: Commission President promises no circumcision or slaughter bans

Arutz Sheva 7
Adar 19, 5774 (February 19 , 2014)

European Rabbis: Circumcision, Ritual Slaughter Ban Violates Religious Freedom

In a meeting between the President of the European Commission and the President of the European Council of Rabbis, Rabbi Pinhas Goldschmid stated in the strongest terms that the Jewish community will not tolerate a violation to their freedom of religion through the banning of circumcision or ritual slaughter.

"We oppose any violation of freedom of religion in Europe, and I am ready to hold a meeting of European Union member states to discuss the freedom of religion violations of recent years in some of the EU states," commented president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso to Rabbi Goldschmidt in his Brussels office.

[Freedom of religion concerns belief, and practice only up to the point of infringing on the rights of others.]

"The Commission was established in order to guard minority rights on the Continent, and will not tolerate the infringement on religious freedom, such as circumcision and ritual slaughter," Barroso added.

Earlier story

ISRAEL: Mother and son must repeat conversion - 2yo have penile pricking

Ynet News
February 18, 2014

State wants 2-year-old to 'repeat circumcision'

Interior Ministry is refusing to register a woman and her son as Jewish although Rabbinate recognized her conversion. Child is required to have blood extracted from his penis, while mother must immerse in a ritual bath in front of male judges.
by Kobi Nachshoni

Israel's Interior Ministry is refusing to recognize a woman and her toddler son as Jewish and is demanding that in addition to a full conversion, the two-year-old must undergo a "repeat circumcision."

The woman converted to Judaism in the past in one of the world's most prestigious ultra-Orthodox courts, and has already been recognized as Jewish by the Chief Rabbinate.

The Interior Ministry is insisting that the two repeat the conversion process, arguing that the woman chose to turn to a private court rather than to the national conversion system. The boy will be forced to undergo a "hatafat dam" process (to have a drop of blood extracted from the penis at the point where the foreskin was attached) and the woman will be required to immerse in a ritual bath in front of male judges – all for bureaucratic reasons.

On Tuesday, the High Court of Justice was to discuss a petition filed by the Itim association, which is helping the family in its battle for recognition. The family's representatives, attorneys Prof. Aviad Hacohen and Elad Kaplan, point to an absurd situation in which one of the State's arms, the Chief Rabbinate, confirms the conversion under its exclusive authority, while the other arm, the Interior Ministry, rejects the conversion without any authority.

The woman, A., a Peruvian national, says she became attached to the Jewish religion "without any ulterior motive" in 2006, and began learning about it with the help of an Israeli residing in Peru at the time, who is today her husband. Due to the absence of suitable Orthodox institutions in her country, she arrived in Israel in order to convert to Judaism.

Because "of foot-dragging, bureaucratic complications and inappropriate treatment to the point of humiliation," which she says she experienced in the national conversion system, A. turned to the Orthodox Lithuanian court of prominent Rabbi Nissim Karelitz in the city of Bnei Brak. In early 2011, she completed the conversion process, a year later she was recognized as Jewish by the Netanya Rabbinate, and two months later she got married according to Jewish law.

Based on the marriage certificate from the Rabbinate, the Interior Ministry registered the couple as married. Absurdly, it won't recognize A. as Jewish, although there is no dispute over the halachic validity of her conversion process. About two years ago, the couple had a son who was circumcised – but the ministry refuses to recognize him as Jewish either....

EASTERN CAPE: Botched circumcision website stays up

IoL News
February 18, 2014

Botched circumcision pics stay

Johannesburg - A Film and Publication Board (FPB) ruling that a website has the right to publish graphic images of botched traditional circumcisions was upheld by the Appeal Tribunal on Tuesday.

This was after the Community Development Foundation for SA (Codefsa) filed an appeal application last week after the FPB ruled that Dutch doctor Dingeman Rijken's website was a “bona fide scientific publication with great educative value”.

The FPB gave the website,, a rating of 13N, meaning it showed nudity and was only suitable for people older than 13. The website contains photographs of the penises of initiates who fell victim to botched circumcisions.

The Appeal Tribunal's interim decision reaffirmed the FPB's rating of 13N.

It ruled that the website must display the FPB's logo indicating that people under age 13 were not permitted to view the website.

The website's landing page had to display this warning: “Some people because of cultural or other sensitivities may find the pictures appearing on this website to be offensive or disturbing”.

The full reasons behind the Appeal Tribunal's findings would be released at a later stage.

Codefsa complained that the website's images were pornographic, compromised doctor-patient confidentiality and prejudiced and violated the cultural rights of black people.

Rijken said in an email on Tuesday: “Contralesa has contacted me... to request for a meeting to discuss a way forward, which I am very happy about.”

He said he would be willing to take the photographs off the website provided “they come up with an adequate plan to curb deaths and mutilations”.

Rijken previously said he had received consent for each photograph posted on the website, and that the deaths and mutilations undermined customs and violated cultural rights. He said it was preposterous to equate pictures of mutilated penises with pornography.

Earlier story

BRITAIN: Penile cancer rises

"Soared" from 1.10 to 1.33 per 100,000/yr, and the mortality rate fell by 20%

Daily Mail
February 18, 2014

The rise of PENIS cancer: Cases soar by 20% amidst fears that symptoms are being misdiagnosed as STDs

  • Number of men diagnosed with disease has risen dramatically in 30 years
  • May be due to changes in sexual behaviour, greater exposure to the human papilloma virus and[/or] decreasing rates of childhood circumcision
  • Men who smoke are also more likely to get penile cancer
by Anna Hodgekiss
The number of men being diagnosed with cancer of the penis has soared by 20 per cent in the last 30 years, according to new figures.

Experts believe the main reasons for the increase may be changes in sexual behaviour, greater exposure to sexually transmitted HPV (human papilloma virus) and[/or] decreasing rates of childhood circumcision.

HPV-related genital warts are associated with a six-fold risk of penile cancer and the incidence of them has rapidly increased in men between 1970 to 2009, with a 30 per cent rise during 2000–2009.

Cancer charities are now urging men to be aware of symptoms of the disease - which are often confused with signs of a sexually transmitted infection.

Penile cancer has a high cure rate if detected early, but some men, such as Nigel Smith, from Wolverhampton, are misdiagnosed.

He was told at a sexual health clinic that he had a genital wart that would go away in time.

It didn't, but rather than seek help, Nigel hid his symptoms from his wife for 12 months by sleeping in their spare bedroom, using his snoring as an excuse.

He was eventually diagnosed with penile cancer in 2011, aged 58, and last year underwent a partial penectomy (partial removal of the penis). He is currently considering reconstructive surgery.

  • A painless lump or ulcer on the penis that doesn't heal
  • Bleeding
  • A red rash under the foreskin
  • Flat growths of brownish colour
  • Difficulty in drawing back the foreskin
  • Unusual smelling discharge from under the foreskin
  • Unexplained change in colour of the skin
  • Swollen lymph nodes in your groin area

The new research, published in the journal Cancer Causes Control, was supported by the male cancer charity Orchid.

Cancer Causes Control. 2013 Dec;24(12):2169-76. doi: 10.1007/s10552-013-0293-y. Epub 2013 Oct 8.
Long-term trends in incidence, survival and mortality of primary penile cancer in England.
Arya M, Li R, Pegler K, Sangar V, Kelly JD, Minhas S, Muneer A, Coleman MP.
Few population-based studies exist of long-term trends in penile cancer. We report incidence and mortality trends in England over the 31 years 1979-2009 and survival trends over the 40 years 1971-2010.
We calculated annual incidence and mortality rates per 100,000 by age and calendar period. We estimated incidence and mortality rate ratios for cohorts born since 1890, and one- and five-year relative survival (%) by age and deprivation category.
A total of 9,690 men were diagnosed with penile cancer during 1979-2009. Age-standardized incidence rates increased by 21 %, from 1.10 to 1.33 per 100,000. Mortality rates fell by 20 % after 1994, from 0.39 to 0.31 per 100,000. Survival analyses included 11,478 men diagnosed during 1971-2010. Five-year relative survival increased from 61.4 to 70.2 %. Five-year survival for men diagnosed 2006-2010 was 77 % for men aged under 60 years and 53 % for men aged 80-99 years. The 8 % difference in five-year survival (66-74 %) between men in the most affluent and most deprived groups was not statistically significant.
The 21 % increase in penile cancer incidence in England since the 1970s may be explained by changes in sexual practice, greater exposure to sexually transmitted oncogenic human papilloma viruses, and[/or] decreasing rates of childhood circumcision. Improvement in survival is likely due to advances in diagnostic, staging and surgical techniques. There is a need for public health education and potential preventative strategies to address the increasing incidence.
PMID: 24101363 [PubMed - in process]

The charity's chief executive, Rebecca Porta, said: 'The research shows that the incidence of this devastating cancer, which currently receives little recognition, is on the increase.

'Unlike other more common cancers, penile cancer is rare and many men feel embarrassed and unable to talk openly about it.


Cancer can develop anywhere in the penis, but the most common places are under the foreskin and on the head (the glans).

The exact cause of penile cancer is unknown, but various factors have been linked to an increased risk.

HPV-related genital warts are associated with a six-fold risk of penile cancer. There are over 100 types of HPV virus and only two strains have been linked with penile cancer. However both these strains are also linked to throat, cervical and anal cancer.

rates of childhood circumcision

A man’s risk of developing cancer of the penis is greater if he smokes. It has been suggested that smoking may act as a co-factor that modulates the risk of progression from HPV infection to premalignant lesions and invasive penile cancer.

Furthermore, the toxic chemicals found in tobacco are excreted in the urine. A build up of these substances under the foreskin may cause changes in the normal healthy cells of the skin, which may lead to cancerous cells developing.

Men who are uncircumcised are also at greater risk. This is because they may find it more difficult to pull back the foreskin enough to clean thoroughly underneath, resulting in poor hygiene. [Or they may just not bother.]

This may lead to a build up of chemical substances that may cause irritation of the skin and lead to cancerous changes.

EASTERN CAPE: Intelligence to spy out rogue circumcisers

IoL News
February 16, 2014

Spooks to curb circumcision deaths?

by Loyiso Sidmba
The Eastern Cape Health Department is turning to the country’s intelligence agencies to halt the annual circumcision deaths and mutilation of young men and boys in the province’s initiation schools.

Botched circumcisions claimed 496 lives and there were 221 penile amputations between June 2006 and December last year in the province.

Last year, 83 initiates died while 31 had their penises amputated. A further 670 were admitted to hospital.


Now the department wants “vigorous police intervention, intelligence and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) to secure convictions”. While more than 250 arrests have been made since March 2008, convictions have been scarce.

NPA regional spokesman Luxolo Tyali did not respond to requests for conviction figures regarding initiates’ deaths and botched circumcisions, despite promising to do so.

In its presentation to Parliament last week, the department said 40 people were arrested last year, but it is unclear whether there were any convictions.

Other interventions proposed by the department include institutionalising the practice by centralising the ritual and building permanent structures staffed by iingcibi and amakhankatha (traditional surgeons and attendants).


Community Development Foundation for SA (Codefsa) director Nkululeko Nxesi said while the Eastern Cape provincial government and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi acknowledged the crisis and were allocating resources, a lot more could be done.

“The current model of providing resources during the circumcision season is not working,” Nxesi said.
He described the model as reactive, and proposed ongoing programmes. Nxesi said the problem of initiate deaths and mutilations was “bigger than we think”.

There were unemployed youths thinking initiation was a way of making a quick buck, surgeons “operating like the Mafia” abducting children and corrupt medical doctors who only did routine check-ups instead of medical examinations on would-be initiates.

“They don't even check these boys. Iingcibi bring forms, doctors sign without seeing the initiates. This is a money-making scheme, in some areas even health officials perform circumcisions,” Nxesi said.