Sunday, July 20, 2014

LOS ANGELES: Intactivist paediatrician Paul Fleiss dies, aged 80

LA Times
July 19, 2014

[Intactivist] Dr. Paul Fleiss dies at 80; father of 'Hollywood madam' Heidi Fleiss

by David Colker

Pediatrician Paul Fleiss, who pleaded guilty in 1995 to conspiring to hide profits made by his daughter, convicted "Hollywood madam" Heidi Fleiss, died Saturday morning at his home in Los Angeles, said his cousin, Joel Fleiss. Paul Fleiss was 80.

The cause of death was unclear. Paul Fleiss' son, Jesse, heard him having trouble breathing while still in bed, Joel Fleiss said. A call was made to 911 and paramedics pronounced Fleiss dead at the scene.
Fleiss, who was known for having a gentle bedside manner and devoted patients, was still practicing medicine. He was the rare doctor who made house calls, and although he was pediatrician to children of several Hollywood celebrities, he also took on patients whose families could not afford to pay him.

Dr Paull Fleiss
Dr Paul Fleiss
(at the 6th International Symposium on Genital Integrity
in Sydney, Australia in 2000)
[Despite being Jewish, Dr Fleiss was a strong opponent of infant circumcision. With others he wrote articles for medical journals debunking medical claims, and a book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision"]

Hundreds of supporters crowded into the courtroom for his sentencing in 1995 for the crime that prosecutors said involved Fleiss signing the mortgage on a luxury home his daughter used as a headquarters for her call-girl ring. "I never intended to cheat or lie or steal," Fleiss said outside the courtroom. "I only wanted to help my daughter."


He ... was sentenced to three years' probation, 625 hours of community service and a fine of $50,000.
Paul Fleiss was born Sept. 8, 1933, in Detroit. He trained as a pharmacist and osteopath, moving to Los Angeles after a law was passed in California in the early 1960s allowing an osteopath to convert to an M.D. degree. He took his residency in pediatrics at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.


In addition to Fleiss' daughter Heidi and son Jesse, he is survived by daughters Amy, Shana and Kim. His son Jason died in a drowning accident.


BOULDER, COLORADO: 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy this week

July 19, 2014

13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy, Children's Rights, and Infant Circumcision

The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children's Rights, "Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change," will be hosted by the University of Colorado at Boulder on July 24-26, 2014.

The symposium will promote interdisciplinary dialogue about the often controversial topic of genital cutting practices of male, female, and intersex children, and on strategies for protecting children from unnecessary genital alteration.

The conference features speakers from around the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Liberia, and Finland. Included are experts in healthcare law, ethics, urology, midwifery, anthropology, pediatrics, medicine, psychology, foreskin repair and restoration, and children's rights. See the program for presentation details.

Several conference presenters are Jewish; some will be speaking specifically about the problems inherent in Jewish ritual circumcision. Jewish presenters include: psychologist Ronald Goldman, who will be speaking about the psychology of circumcision; award-winning journalist Jennifer Margulis will be speaking about the business of circumcision in connection with her recent book The Business of Baby (Scribner 2013); Berkeley, California novelist Lisa Braver Moss will be speaking about non-circumcising families in the Jewish community; social activist Eran Sedah will be speaking (via Skype) about the anti-circumcision movement in Israel; psychiatrist Richard Schwartzman will be speaking about unconscious cruelty--the emotions behind genital cutting; writer/publisher Rebecca Wald will be speaking about the Beyond the Bris website; and documentary filmmaker Francelle Wax will be screening an excerpt from her forthcoming film.

In addition to three days of presentations, three films will be screened in the evenings including: Intersexion by Grant Lahood, John Keir, and Mani Bruce Mitchell; The Hidden Trauma: Circumcision in America (excerpt) by Brendon Marotta; and American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda (excerpt) by Francelle Wax.

These Symposia have taken place every other year since 1989, alternating between the United States and a location abroad. They are an important forum for advancing knowledge and thought on these issues, and for connecting people in the Genital Autonomy Movement from all over the world.

The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children's Rights is sponsored by The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (USA), Intact America (USA), Genital Autonomy (UK and Australia), and the Sexpo Foundation (Finland). It is locally organized by NOCIRC of Colorado.

Press passes for the symposium are available - please contact Gillian Longley.

Program and registration information is available at:

You can read more about previous

Read the full story at

Friday, July 18, 2014

EASTERN CAPE: Pigs stolen, owner abused for being intact

New Age (South Africa)
July 17, 2014

‘Initiation school teachers stole my pigs’

by Montsho Matlala
A subsistence pig farmer yesterday decried the police’s failure to make an arrest after 20 of his pigs were allegedly stolen by a group of people from a local cultural initiation camp in Jane Furse, Limpopo.

Mafole Machika, 57, told The New Age yesterday that cultural initiation camp teachers from Ga-Phaahla village stole his pigs on May 23.

“The mob – armed with sticks, knobkerries, axes and pangas – stormed my yard undressed to their waists,” he said. “They took my 20 pigs while shouting that I was a worthless man who had not been culturally circumcised.”

Machika said the young men also swore at him in front of his grandchildren.
“And the police officers in Nebo were disgusting,” he said.

“The station commander told me that it was the traditional law of the land that I be treated that way because I was leshoboro (uncircumcised). Even now nobody has been arrested and my pigs are gone.”

Machika also claimed the two senior police officers who ridiculed him were friends of the local traditional leader.

“All I want is justice. Every year during cultural initiation rituals, gangs of boys and men insult me about my private parts.

“Three years ago I even sent my two sons to the cultural initiation school and they have graduated,” the pig farmer said.

“My sin is that I didn’t go to the mountains? But why are so many men in the village who did not go there not harassed?”

Provincial police spokesperson Col Ronel Otto confirmed the incident. “At this stage, I still have to find out more details and I will make a comment soon,” Otto said.

House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Kgosi Malesela Dikgale has condemned the incident and called on traditional leaders to help victims of harassment by cultural initiation school “fanatics”.

“Any form of harassment is not a part of our culture. Some of the pillars of cultural initiation is respect for everyone and integrity,” Dikgale said.

LONDON: Quaintance admits offences against five boys

The Tablet (UK)
July 17, 2014

Former Knights of Malta member pleads guilty to abuse of young boys

A former sacristan for the Knights of Malta has pleaded guilty to nine sex offences including those against boys as young as 11 he had met in the 1960s and 70s.

Vernon Quaintance, a companion of the Order of Malta, served at the Knights’ regular Mass at the chapel in St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in North London.

On Wednesday this week a court heard that Quaintance, 71, was a paedophile who also ran a pro-circumcision group. Southwark Crown Court heard he accumulated images as recently as 2011.

He was also a leader of the Gilgal Society, a group claiming to promote male circumcision and “its benefits in terms of health, sexual satisfaction and self-image.”

In 2012, he was found guilty of possessing nine hours of child pornography on video tapes. This week he pleaded guilty to five counts of indecency with a child between 1966 and 1976 and four counts of possession of indecent images. An additional count of sexual assault alleged to have taken place in 2011 on a child was left to lie on file.

Judge Anthony Leonard QC adjourned sentencing until September. He said there was a “very real likelihood” of a significant custodial sentence. Quaintance was released on conditional bail, with the requirement to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.

Concerns about Quaintance’s behaviour had come to the attention of members of the Grand Priory, a senior body of knights, who were later found not to have reported the concerns to the relevant authorities. Quaintance had been banned from serving and attending the social club at St Bede’s, Clapham Park, South London.

An inquiry into the matter by Baroness (Julia) Cumberlege found that three of the knights made a catalogue of serious errors in dealing with the concerns. The three later apologised.

Earlier story

ZIMBABWE: Senators call for circumcision ban

Southern Eye (Zimbabwe)
July 16, 2014

Senators demand circumcision ban

MDC-T's Matabeleland South senator Sithembile Mlotshwa yesterday moved a motion urging a ban on circumcision of minors saying the country is "creating a generation of useless men".
by Veneranda Langa

Mlotshwa moved the motion in Senate saying there were no benefits to infant male circumcision as children did not indulge in sexual activity.

She said infant circumcision could not mitigate the spread of HIV and cervical cancer.

"I'm afraid we are creating a generation of useless men because if one of your limbs is not functioning properly after the mishaps of circumcision then you will be disabled. These children do not indulge in sexual activity anyway," Mlotshwa said.

"After mutilating these children's sexual organs (in failed circumcision) the future generations will judge us and by the time these children need to taste how these organs should function we will be long dead and history will judge us on why we allowed the circumcision of children to continue."

Mlotshwa challenged all ministers to get circumcised if the programme was as good as its promoters claimed.

She said there was a side of the story that was not being told to the nation about male circumcision.

"In Somalia women's clitorises are mutilated to ensure girls do not enjoy sex," Mlotshwa said.

"That is because they give them in marriage to old men who cannot satisfy them and mutilating them is to ensure they do not discover the pleasures of sex.

"Circumcision of young boys is tantamount to genital mutilation and we are afraid that in the government will end up saying women's clitorises should be cut because they are just taking everything that comes without doing proper research."

She said money meant for infant circumcision should instead go towards treatment centres for cervical cancer.

"The Creator made a foreskin for a purpose. Are we not going to have a generation of men without foreskins? Most of the doctors who circumcise are not circumcised themselves and where do they put those foreskins?" she asked.

MDC-T Masvingo senator Misheck Marava seconded the motion saying men constituted only 48% of the population and their organs cannot be tampered a with.

"We cannot play with risks by tampering with their organs because they may not be able to rectify failures," he said.

Zanu PF Mashonaland Central senator Damian Mumvuri said many parents were making mistakes by deciding for their children.

LONDON: Gilgal website reborn as "Helpdesk"

Under New Management?

July 15, 2014

Gilgal Society website re-opens, rebranded

by Hugh Young
A new pro-circumcision website has replaced that of the defunct Gilgal Society. This coincides with the beginning of the trial of the head of the Gilgal Society for offences against boys.

The "Circumcision Helpdesk" site is almost identical in wording and format to the Gilgal website. It has the same postal address.

Gilgal Society website front page
The Gilgal front page (click for larger)
The Circumcision Helpdesk front page
The Helpdesk front page (click for larger
The trial of Vernon Quaintance began in Southwark Crown Court on Monday for charges of indecency, indecent assault, sexual assaults and possessing indecent images. The court heard argument yersterday about whether images involving circumcision were indecent.

The Gilgal website has been frozen since Quaintance was first convicted of possessing indecent images in April 2012. A message said that "as a result of major computer failure" its publications were unavailable. Single copies of the same or similar publications from the "Circumcision Helpdesk" are free. It remains to be seen how the several leaflets by Professor Brian Morris again being offered from the new site are branded - with the Gilgal imprint, as before, or without, as he reissued them after Quantance's first conviction.

Earlier story

LONDON: Trial of Vernon Quaintance begins: Gilgal gone

July 14, 2014

Quaintance trial begins: Gilgal goes, even from Morris website

by Hugh Young
The trial of a high-profile circumcision advocate for crimes against boys began in London on Monday. This coincides with the disappearances of his online pro-circumcision society and the last reference to it on the website of a prominent Australian circumcision advocate.

Vernon Quaintance went on trial (case No T20130462) in Court 8 at Southwark Crown Court at 10:30 am.

In January he denied 10 charges relating to young boys between 1966 and 2011. He is accused of four charges of indecency with children under 16 between 1966 and 1974.

He also faces one charge of sexually assaulting a young boy in 1974 and a further charge of indecent assault on another young boy in 1966.

The four remaining charges relate to indecent images of children ranging from level one to level five in severity discovered at Quaintance's home in 2011.

Much of the day was taken up with an argument about what could be included in charges of possessing indecent images. A statement by Quaintance claimed that pictures concerning circumcision on his computers were medical or health-related, and not indecent.

Quaintance was the head of the pro-circumcision Gilgal Society, which published the first editions of the series of pro-circumcision pamphlets written by Professor Brian Morris of the University of Sydney. The Gilgal Society website has recently had all its files removed, including advertisements for Professor Brian Morris's leaflets.

Soon after Quaintance was first charged in April 2012, the Gilgal logo was removed from the leaflets available from Professor Morris's website. A page of "circumcision humor" including a poem by "Vernon Quantance" remained until the middle of 2013. A link to a list of "possible circumcisers in Australia and New Zealand" carrying a Gilgal Society logo has been removed since July 3, leaving a "404: file not found" message.

Gilgal's list of circumcisers on Morris's site
Click for larger
Earlier story

EASTERN CAPE: Septicaemia from circumcision claims victim No 32

July 13, 2014

Circumcision season claims another young initiate

Ncisa Village, Eastern Cape - The spotlight is again falling on traditional initiation schools following the death of another initiate. It brings the number of fatalities in the province to thirty-two since the start of the winter circumcision season.

KENYA: Forced circumcision victims won't talk
July 10, 2014

Kenya: Male PEV Sexual Abuse Victims Didn't Testify, Says Nyaundi

by Jillo Kadida
Men who were sexually abused during the 2007-08 post-election violence did not testify before the Kenya National Human Rights Commission for fear of stigmatisation, a court was told yesterday.

Former Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission boss Patricia Nyaundi told the court Naivasha registered the highest prevalence of sodomy and forceful circumcision during the 2007-08 violence. The victims did not share their ordeals with commissions that probed the violence.

"My lord, the commission noted that it was harder for men to report sexual abuse because they didn't have a support system," Nyaudi said yesterday as she gave her testimony in a case in which sexual violence victims are seeking compensation from government.

She said although women who go through sexual violence can speak about it, something needs to be done for male victims to talk. Nyaundi said the problem stems from the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.

The case was filed on behalf of the victims by the Coalition on Violence against Women, Independent Medico-Legal Unit, International Commission of Jurists Kenya Chapter and Physicians for Human Rights.

They have sued the Attorney General, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Inspector General of Police. The then ministers of Medical Services and Public Health have also been sued. The hearing continues this morning.

Earlier story

SAN FRANCISO: 200 will celebrate non-cutting Brit Shalom

July 11, 2014


by Hugh Young
The movement to name newborn Jewish boys without the surgery of circumcision has reached a milestone - 200 celebrants (officiants) are available to perform the ceremony. More than 120 of these celebrants are rabbis.

Called Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace), this alternative naming ceremony may correspond in most ways with traditional Brit (or Bris) Milah, except that there is no cutting of the baby.
"They're especially happy ceremonies, for that reason," says Mark Reiss, M.D.

Dr Mark Reiss
Dr Mark Reiss

For 14 years, Dr Reiss, of San Francisco, has been recruiting celebrants of Brit Shalom for his webpage He estimates that 300-500 boys are welcomed into their US Jewish communities with Brit Shalom ceremonies every year. They are now available in most US states, several Canadian provinces and other countries. Twelve of the celebrants are in Israel.

"The celebrants include rabbis, cantors and other lay leaders, who need not reject circumcision themselves, but want to accommodate parents who do. New celebrants are always welcome."

ONTARIO: OK for doctor to suck baby's penis blood (through a tube)

National Post (Canada)
July 9, 2014

Doctor cleared after complaint over
Orthodox Jewish practice of sucking
blood from baby's penis at circumcision

by Tristin Hopper
A Toronto doctor who employs the traditional Jewish practice of orally sucking blood from a baby’s penis following circumcision has been cleared by Ontario’s physician review board after an anti-circumcision activist filed an official complaint accusing him of religious bias and “sexual motive.”

The ritual of orally suctioning blood from a circumcision wound, sometimes through a plastic tube, is known as metzitzah b’peh and is practised almost exclusively among Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish circles.

“There is no information to support the … contention that there was a sexual motive to the method by which the [doctor] performed ritual circumcisions,” reads a decision document published Tuesday by the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board.

The Board ultimately concluded that the original complaint, which was linked to a Seattle-based anti-circumcision group, was obviously meant as “a broadsided attack on the practice of circumcision.”

“I’m pleased with the decision, but I’m not going to comment,” Dr. Aaron Jesin, a family practitioner who has performed more than 10,000 circumcisions, told the National Post by phone on Wednesday.
Metzitzah b’peh has become the subject of heightened controversy in recent years after it was linked to numerous cases of herpes infection in New York City.

According to New York City health officials, the ritual practice infected 11 boys with neonatal herpes between 2004 and 2011, with fatal implications for two of them.

As the operator of the Jesin Circumcision Clinic, Dr. Jesis performs ritual circumcisions upon request, but told investigators he has a “strong personal stance” against performing metzitzah b’peh with direct oral contact, and said he prevents the risk of infection by using a sterilized plastic tube to suction the blood.

Reviewers later concluded that this provided “adequate protection” against infection.

In a 2012 edition of the Canadian Jewish News, Dr. Jesin was quoted in an article about oral suction.
“If you believe metzitzah b’peh is … [Jewish law]” he told a reporter, “then you will feel very strongly that it’s the only way.” [And the relevance of this to the practice of medicine is...?]

‘It was obvious that he and the Applicant were using the complaint procedure to launch a broadsided attack on the practice of circumcision, whether ritual or non-ritual’

Within four months, the article caught the eye of a complainant identified only as “D.S.” In a letter to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, he alleged that Dr. Jesin was no longer fit to practise medicine “due to personal bias surrounding his religious beliefs.”

The letter added “although it might be presumptive for me to say so, I will say to you that given the nature of this breach, one cannot rule out sexual motive.”

In follow-up letters, D.S. would go even further, calling for a full-scale inquiry into Ontario’s “ritual amputation activities,” and claiming that the practice was counter to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

A further submission by D.S.’s lawyer claimed that no certified medical doctor should be allowed to engage in the “unnecessary amputation of healthy genital tissue from a child who cannot consent to the procedure itself, let alone consent to a sub-standard version.”

Although the letter-writer is never named, his lawyer identified himself as the executive director of the group Doctors Opposing Circumcision, a position long occupied by Seattle lawyer John V. Geisheker.

A detailed review by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario — as well as its provincial watchdog — ultimately dismissed the complaints against Dr. Jesin outright, claiming the whole process had been meant as a kind of political protest.

“It was obvious to the Board that he and the Applicant were using the complaint procedure to launch a broadsided attack on the practice of circumcision, whether ritual or non-ritual,” read Tuesday’s decision document.
[So? Would a complaint about cruelty to animals be ruled out because it came from a vergetarian group?]

The College, in particular, wrote “this is not the proper forum for addressing the issue of male circumcision.” [Then what is?]

Earlier story

WASHINGTON: US Envoy at work defending circumcision

Jewish Daily Forward
July 8, 2014

Anti-Semitism Envoy Wades Into Europe Circumcision Wars

Ira Forman Uses Bully Pulpit To Defend Rite
by Ron Kampeas

Washington - The Obama administration's anti-Semitism monitor has added an issue to his office's portfolio: defending circumcision in Europe.

Circumcision has become a top focus for Ira Forman, the State Department's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. He has been using the pulpit his office provides to warn European governments that moves to ban ritual circumcision could lead to the demise of their countries' Jewish communities.
[There are no moves to ban it, only defer it.]
"Because circumcision is essentially universal among Jews, this can shut down a community, especially a small vulnerable community," Forman said.
[That does not follow.]

No European country has outright banned the practice, but there is increasing pressure to do so, and some countries have imposed restrictions such as requiring medical supervision. Forman is the State Department's third anti-Semitism monitor. While he has maintained his predecessors' focus on anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric worldwide, he said that protecting circumcision has become urgent because calls for bans are gaining legitimacy, particularly in Northern Europe.

In the past six months, Forman has raised the issue in meetings with ambassadors to Washington from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. He says he plans to raise it with envoys from other Northern European countries, where pressures to ban circumcision are most acute.

He also has asked the relevant desks at the State Department to have U.S. diplomats raise the issue in their meetings in their host countries.

Forman, who is Jewish, contrasted efforts to prohibit circumcision with bans on ritual animal slaughter - in place in some countries for decades - which at least have workarounds, for instance by importing frozen kosher meat.

"Circumcision, if you ban it, you have three choices: You do it underground illegally, you take a little 8-day-old baby across state lines - and if you have contiguous states [with bans], doing that becomes harder and harder - or three, you emigrate," he said.

[He left off "four, you stop doing it."]

A comprehensive 2012 survey of European Jews by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found substantial majorities of Jews classifying a hypothetical ban on circumcision as a "big problem."

"I will wait for the developments concerning a statutory regulation on the Brit Mila," the survey quoted a German respondent as saying, using the Hebrew phrase for ritual circumcision. "This will be crucial for my decision on whether or not to leave Germany."

Leaders of Jewish communities in countries that are contending with public pressure to ban the practice similarly warn that such a move could spur an exodus of Jews. "I have said that a country which saved the Jews during the Second World War, if they would establish any law against circumcision, they would have done what Hitler wanted to do," said Rabbi Bent Lexner, chief rabbi to Denmark's Jewish community of 7,500.

European officials say their countries have instituted protections for circumcision in response to public pressures.

"A ban on circumcision is not in question for the Norwegian government," Frode Overland Andersen, a spokesman for his country's Foreign Ministry, told JTA. German and Danish officials have issued similar assurances.

Jewish communal officials appreciate the assurances that circumcision will not be banned. Nonetheless, Jewish communal officials warn that the danger of circumcision bans in Europe has not substantially diminished.

"The trend is really moving against us in one considerable way, and that's in terms of general European public opinion in Northern and Western Europe, particularly Scandinavia," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee's director of international Jewish affairs.

Calls to ban circumcision gained momentum after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution last October that called for a public debate on the "rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity." It lumped male circumcision with female genital mutilation and corporal punishment.

The assembly, however, lacks power. In April, the council's leadership advised members that male circumcision was "by no means comparable" to female genital mutilation and recommended against further attempts to target the practice.

Nonetheless, children's ombudsmen in a number of Northern European countries have called in recent years for restrictions on the practice, as have medical professionals' groups. Jewish leaders say that as Northern Europe becomes increasingly secularized, its populace tends to place more value on freedom from religious coercion than on freedom to practice religion.

"These are post-religious and post-ritual countries," said Rabbi Michael Melchior, the Israel-based chief rabbi to Norway's 800 Jews. "And the vast majority of the population don't have a clue what ritual is. They see ritual in general as something which belongs to some dark evil - they have medieval conceptions [of rituals] which have nothing to do with modern society."

In one way, some Scandinavian governments have nodded toward circumcision opponents by including in their laws requirements that circumcision take place under medical supervision. Norway's parliament passed such a law last month. Norwegian Jewish leaders applauded the measure because it allowed the rite to be carried out under a physician's supervision.

In Sweden, said Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the country's 20,000-strong Jewish community, circumcision is permitted until two months, which effectively shuts out the Muslim community, in which boys are often circumcised as toddlers.

Anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe helps drive the anti-circumcision clamor, Jewish communal leaders say. If anything, sensitivities in Northern Europe about the 20th-century record on Jews are what has led governments to protect circumcision.

"One of the important parliamentarians told me it is convenient for us to put the Jews at the front of this issue," Melchior said. "Because in the public in Norway still, it is much more difficult to go out against the Jews than the Muslims."

Jewish officials said that anti-Semitism, while a concern in other areas, is not a factor in the debate, although Jewish stereotypes have emerged in its wake. When pro-circumcision activists in Germany cited American studies showing that the practice was practically harmless and had possible medical benefits, opponents suggested that American Jewish doctors had skewed the studies.
[Some obscure opponents perhaps, but the main opposition case was the benefits are exaggerated or bogus.]

The key to preserving circumcision, according to Ervin Kohn, president of Norway's Jewish community, is lobbying the political class, which is sensitive to international image.

"For most of the Norwegian people it is strange, so they believe all sorts of things and don't know too much and are easily impressionable," he said, regarding views on circumcision. "Those who know are the politicians - they made the right decision."

Jewish communal leaders in the Scandinavian countries said that blunt intervention from abroad could backfire, noting the hackles that were raised when Israel's government issued dire warnings against banning circumcision after last year's Council of Europe vote.

However, they welcome Forman's more subtle overtures, saying that the Obama administration's signaling of its interest in ensuring a future for European Jewish communities has proven salutary.

"I'm still on a high from presenting President Obama to the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah," said Posner-Korosi, describing a visit to Stockholm last year during which Obama also honored Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. "It conveyed such a strong message, not just about Raoul Wallenberg but about anti-Semitism, about recognizing minorities."

Looking out for minorities is the point, Forman said.
[The minority at risk here is boy babies with no voice or choice.]

"Our priority is to make sure these communities don't go out of existence," he said. "It would be a tragedy not just for the communities. It would be a tragedy for Europe, for these cultures."
[Does Judaism really stand or fall on infant male genital cutting...?]

NIGERIA: "Girl" found to be intersexed at circumcision

Sun News Online
July 4, 2014

Baby born with female, male sex organs

by Gilbert Ekezie and Doris Obinna
When little Success Chisom Aniekwe was born one year ago, joy filled the hearts of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Aniekwe, from Anam Community, in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State. He was a chubby baby, full of life.However, the baby’s birth took a twist about eight days thereafter, when it was discovered that he had two sex organs, male and female. Ever since, pain has become a constant companion of the baby.

Now frail, with constant pain, especially when urinating, which comes through what would pass for female private part, under a little penis, the baby has been in and out of hospital, where tests and surgeries have been recommended.

Recounting her predicament, mother of the baby, Mrs. Chekwube Aniekwe, told Daily Sun that the scan she did, while pregnant, showed that the baby was a girl. She, however, stated that her confusion started when the woman, who gave the baby its first bath said the sex organ was not pronounced. The confusion increased when the mother moved to circumcise the baby, as the family wanted to circumcise its female children.

“Eight days of the baby’s birth, we went for the circumcision, when the woman noticed that my baby had both male and female organs. When the woman wanted to cut her clitoris, she said the baby was not a girl. She advised us to go back to his hospital of birth,” she stated

[So would that have been a cruel mutilation intended to destroy her sexuality forever, or a healthy medical procedure with lifelong benefits for every boy and man? Inquiring minds want to know.]

The confused mother of three explained that she went back to the hospital, where the medical director examined the baby.

She said: “When the doctor looked at the baby’s case, he quickly referred us to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. When we got there, we were made to understand that we needed to do some tests before surgeries could be done to correct the anomaly. At the hospital, a pharmacist directed us to Isolo General Hospital. On getting to there, they said they could not handle the case.”
The parents’ quest for solution did not stop there, as they also went to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.

Mrs. Aniekwe said: “When we got LUTH, we were told surgeries were needed but would come only after some tests. We have not been able to do the tests because of lack of finance.”

“The last time we went to LUTH was in December 2013. At that time, one of the specialists told us that there would likely be two surgeries. We were also asked to do a hormone test to know whether the baby has womb, to know if another surgery would be added.”

“We made several attempts to raise money for the necessary tests but we could not and that is why we have not gone back to the hospital till now. Presently, we do not know what it would cost us to do the tests and the surgeries,” she stated.

The woman further explained her baby’s condition has caused the family a lot of pain and embarrassment. “I am being embarrassed by the problem of the baby. Everywhere, I go, people get confused, as to whether the baby is a boy or girl. Initially, I used to dress the baby like girl. I also pierced the ears and put earrings. But as time passed, the baby’s look changed to that of a boy. People tell me my baby resembles a boy. Within me, I know that there is a problem. It was when the face started changing to a boy that I started giving him a hair-cut and dressing him like a boy, even when the ears are pierced,” she stated.

Her husband, Emmanuel, described the case as a very serious challenge that has confronted the family. He, however, expressed optimism that surgeries, as doctors have recommended, would remedy the situation.

“I will be very grateful if I could be assisted financially, so that the surgeries would be done. The baby is always in pains and too tender to be undergoing such. ...

SOUTH AFRICA: Circumcisers charged with murder, death toll 26

July 4, 2014

Circumcision death toll rises, four in court

At least 26 boys have died since the start of the winter initiation season because of botched circumcisions, the Traditional Affairs department said on Friday.

"The total number of young boys that have lost their lives since the start of the initiation season has risen to 26," said Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela.

"Twenty-one initiates are from the Eastern Cape, four from Mpumalanga, and one from the Western Cape."

On Thursday, 104 boys were admitted for dehydration, septic circumcision, gangrene, and other related injuries.


Seven people have been arrested for operating illegal initiation schools in the Eastern Cape. "The government cannot watch as our children are dying in numbers. This must come to an end," Bapela said.

Meanwhile, four people appeared in the Libode Magistrate's Court in the Eastern Cape this week in connection with illegal circumcisions, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Friday.

Three male teenagers, aged between 16 and 17, appeared on Thursday on charges of unlawful circumcision after they circumcised another 16-year-old boy in a village near Libode, said NPA Mthatha region spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.

"The young initiate was rescued by the police on Tuesday and is currently in a serious condition at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital at Mthatha."


On Wednesday, 24-year-old Samkelo Mvubu appeared in the same court on two counts of murder and two counts of contravening the Health Standards Traditional Circumcision Act No 6 of 2001.

Mvubu allegedly circumcised two of the initiates who died on Monday at Luthubeni village near Libode.


UGANDA: Circumcision funds misused

The Daily Monitor (Uganda)
July 3, 2014

NGO probes misuse of Shs400m meant for male circumcision

by David Mafabi
Budaka- The Management Sciences for Health [formerly Star E project], an NGO, has opened investigations into alleged mismanagement of Shs420 million [$US 159,880] meant for Kaderuna Health Centre III by its staff.

The money was meant for male circumcision to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.

The Daily Monitor learnt that the focal person for ART programme, Mr Abdulla Wambedde, and a doctor had allegedly been drawing Shs18 million every month for the last two years but never did the work.

Members of the Kaderuna Health Centre III led by Mr Hassan Kibwika, accused Mr Wambedde of mismanaging the male circumcision programme and diverting funds.

The Budaka District speaker, Mr Abdu Kagoda, said he heard of MSH [Star E] and that they promised to come to the area to perform male circumcision, but they never appeared.

“They promised to come on several occasions, we lined up people from Kaderuna and we have never seen them. And yet as a district we know money was released for the activity for two years,” said Mr Kagoda.

The MSH chief of party, Dr Edward Ssemafumu, said they had been releasing money for the programme at the facility but received reports from the ground that the money never reached.

“We have already started investigations as MSH,” Dr Ssemafumu said. “What we know is that about Shs400 million was disbursed to Kaderuna Health Centre III but there has been no activity, we have already suspended a doctor and we have started an audit. I am sure we shall get to the bottom of the matter.”

When contacted, Mr Wambedde denied any wrong doing, saying he had reported the matter to police against people spreading malicious information about him.

SOUTH AFRICA: Circumcision death toll 23

IOL News
July 3, 2014

Initiation death toll at 23

Johannesburg - Twenty-three initiates have died since the start of the winter initiation season because of botched circumcisions and 104 others have been admitted to hospitals for related injuries, Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela said on Thursday.

“It is saddening to report the increased number of initiates who have lost their lives to 23,” he said in a statement.

“This is despite all the efforts we have made.”

Nineteen of the deceased were from the Eastern Cape, three from Mpumalanga, and one from the Western Cape.

Bapela said the 104 others were admitted for dehydration, septic circumcision, gangrene, and other related injuries.

He sent his condolences to the affected families and said government condemned illegal circumcision schools.

“The rite of passage is not a licence for abuse of the initiates but a process that is ushering these young men to adulthood and a cultural practice that needs to be respected,” said Bapela. [Why should it be respected when it ushers them to death or emasculation?]

“The ministry of co-operative governance and traditional affairs continues to call on all members of the community to report any illegal initiation schools to the police.”

LIBERIA: Boy who lost penis to circumcision seeks help abroad
July 3, 2014

Liberia: Urgent Help - Boy Suffering From Circumcision Error in Need

Little, Phillip Zinnah, Jr., one year, seven months old who is on the verge of losing his manhood after a medic performing circumcision on him completely cut off his penis is getting glimmers of hope with a Liberian making frantic efforts to get the boy seek treatment abroad.

Zinnah met the unfortunate situation on 5th of January on Sunday, 4:15 pm when one Dr. Nimley who was hired to circumcise him wrongly performed the operation, cutting off the pennies and leaving the boy to bleed profusely.

The boy could be on his way to getting relief as a Liberian Charlesetta Nougbode Williams has told FrontPageAfrica that she written the British Embassy, the German Embassy, to get visa all intended to get support for the boy and is at the time sending out appeals for support.


Charlesetta said Brussels Airlines will give a discount and at least a few ticket or even all for FREE but that will only be done when a Visa is available and booking done for the 9th of July.

"As per the doctor the penis is staying too long in the abdomen. It is like it is in a cup of water and need to be removed, and I am doing my best.... ", the Liberian said.

EASTERN CAPE: Circumcision death toll 13

Eye Witness News (South Africa)
July 1, 2014

EC initiate death toll rises

by Shamiela Fisher (ed. Gadeeja Abbas)
CAPE TOWN - At least 13 boys have died since the start of the winter initiation season, the Eastern Cape Health Department said on Tuesday.

Officials say hospitals are also overcrowded with severely ill initiates seeking medical assistance.
Early on Tuesday, an initiate in Mthatha died as a result of a botched circumcision.

The department's Sizwe Kupelo urged police and the Nationa Prosecuting Authority to bring criminal charges against the perpetrators.

We have se aside R20 million [$US 1,860,550] for the situation. We are concerned and are asking locals to help get the situation under control."

JERUSALEM: Rabbinical court can not order circumcison - High Court
June 30, 2014

High Court relieved rabbinical courts of it's authority over circumcision decisions

Israel’s High Court decided that family courts will decide whether a baby gets a circumcision when divorcing parents disagree on the issue, and not the rabbinical court that’s dealing with the divorce.
by Yonah Jeremy Bob

In a dramatic decision on religion and democracy, the High Court of Justice on Sunday took away authority from the rabbinical court system over whether a divorcing couple had to circumcise their son.

The vote to move the issue into the family court system was 6-1 with Deputy Supreme Court Justice Miriam Naor, Justices Salim Jabraun, Esther Hayot, Hanan Meltzer, Yoram Danziger and Neal Hendel voting in the majority against Justice Elyakim Rubsinstein voting in the minority.

In March, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein told the High Court of Justice that the family courts, not the rabbinical courts, should decide whether a baby gets a circumcision when divorcing parents disagree on the issue.

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. Weinstein added that the family court certainly could, and in some cases likely would, order a circumcision if it found it to be in the best interests of the child.

The court’s majority ultimately accepted those arguments.

Rubinstein agreed that the rabbinical courts had mishandled the issue and disregarded a full analysis of what was in the child’s best interests, but preferred to send the case back to the rabbinical courts for a second evaluation.

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 requested Weinstein’s opinion on the broader issue of whether family courts or rabbinical courts should rule on this issue.

Weinstein had already written the High Court on February 11, saying the rabbinical courts had exceeded their authority by intervening on the circumcision issue, noting that anesthesia and a special surgical procedure would be required, removing the issue from the rabbinical courts’ authority.

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

The mother and 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. That court even fined the mother NIS 500 per day until she had her son circumcised.

The Rabbinical High Court confirmed the Netanya Rabbinical Court’s order.

The identity of all the family members is under a court-ordered gag order.

Following the initial court order, the mother petitioned through the Justice Ministry’s Legal Assistance Division to the High Court of Justice on December 18, 2013, 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.

In its February 26 order The High Court said it was focusing on 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 she opposed the practice of circumcision and rejected the rabbinical courts’ claim of authority based on the best interests of the boy. Feldman said the rabbinical courts’ claim was based on an incorrect interpretation that circumcision was in the boy’s best interests. Rather, he said, there was no medical necessity, and the issue was merely an ideological dispute between the parents. Feldman added that the question of circumcision was between an individual and God, and beyond any human court’s right to interfere.

The justices’ questions varied widely during the hearing, with some appearing to agree that stepping into this issue could lead to family courts ruling whether children must eat matza on Passover. Others implied that failing to intervene and order the child’s circumcision now could hurt him socially later in life.

Lawyer Shimon Yakobi, representing the rabbinical courts, said 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

UGANDA: Women shun circumcised men

The Obsever (Uganda)
June 27, 2014

Gulu wives reject circumcised men

by Zurah Nakabugo
Vincent Okello, 27, was one of the many men who turned up for circumcision in northern Uganda in recent months.

Yet despite his interest in the exercise, Okello is concerned about the reaction of his wife once he returns home.

This is because of reports that some women in the north have rejected their circumcised men, accusing them of having become sexually weaker after undergoing the operation that experts say helps reduce the chances of contracting the deadly HIV/Aids virus.

“I came here for circumcision after hearing messages from the media about the benefits of circumcision; that it protects us from acquiring HIV/Aids and other infections like Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs,” Okello said. “However, my concern is about my wife who is likely to abandon me after circumcision following misconceptions from the public that I will become sexually less powerful.”

Okello told The Observer at Gulu hospital, that some of his colleagues who were circumcised before had already been abandoned by their wives. However, according to Roselyn Oyella, the safe male circumcision counsellor at Gulu hospital, such perceptions are false.

“If you have been impotent you remain impotent. If you have been sexually active, there won’t be any change after circumcision,” Oyella said.

Virility is not the only reason why circumcision is causing conflict in families, according to Stuart Ochora, 25, a resident of Layibi village in Gulu Municipality. It is said that the practice contradicts local cultural norms and many locals think it is meant to convert people to Islam.

Medical personnel such as Dr Leonard Were, the voluntarily medical male circumcision (VMMC) officer, attribute the lopsided perceptions to lack of or limited sensitisation of people, especially women, about the importance of circumcision in the fight against HIV/Aids.

“Because of removing the foreskin of the penis, the virus has lesser area [through which] to enter the man during sexual intercourse,” Dr Were said. [If that's the reason, cutting the whole thing off will be 100% effective.]

Dr Were, who is also the programme officer of the Northern Uganda Health Integration to Enhance Services (NU-HITES) project, says for the last one-and-a-half years, 74,000 men have been circumcised in northern Uganda by NU-HITES project alone. However, he fears that due to cultural beliefs and lack of sensitisation about its importance, they might fail to meet their target of circumcising 100,000 males every year.

The RDC of Gulu, Catherine Lamwaka, said the low number of males circumcised would eventually become a social and economic burden to government.

“We are fighting hard to sensitise people in the region about the importance of circumcision,” Lamwaka said.

At 8.3 per cent, northern Uganda has the second highest HIV/Aids prevalence rate, after the central region.

ZIMBABWE: Men shun being circumcised over magic claims

Harare24 (Zimbabwe)
June 26, 2014

Men shun circumcision as foreskins are 'used for ritual purposes'

Hwange men are reportedly shunning going for voluntary male circumcision amongst wide spread rumours in the District that the foreskins are being used for ritual purposes.

Rumours are spreading like a bush fire in the Matabeleland North District that some unscrupulous elements within the Ministry of Health centres doing the circumcision are selling the foreskins to nyangas for use in varied sex related traditional medicines and rituals.

According to sources within the health centres the nursing staff performing the medical procedure are not disposing off the fore skins as stipulated but collecting them and selling them to traditional healers from as far afield as Binga and across the Zambezi in Zambia. The foreskins are reportedly selling for as much as $50 per "piece". The nursing personnel are reported to be making a killing as more men are hidding to the calls by the Ministry for men to come forward for free circumcision.

Recent medical tests have revealed that male circumcision reduces the risk of HIV transmission considerably resulting in a lot of men responding resoundingly to the call for circumcision. [Not so.] The Ministry of Health has unveiled a programme in all the districts of the country where men have free circumscision.

Speaking to Bulawayo 24, several men from Hwange confirmed that they are no longer eager to do the operation as the rumours of the ritual use of their foreskins spread. Some men claim that what even makes them sceptical of the whole exercise is that the medical personnel at the health centre refuse to give the men their foreskins for personal disposal.

"Am not going to donate my flesh for ritual purposes and not get anything for it am sorry," said one Clifford Kumwenda.

In a separate interview a herbalist from Nguminja Township of Hwange town confirmed that the men's foreskins are used for ulunyoka an African herb used against a promiscuous partner.

"The foreskin is used for lunyoka on a married woman who sleeps with another man," she said.
"The herbal mix works in various ways the worst being sticking the two immoral partners together until the husband of the wife is compensated heavily."

Another Sangoma claimed that the foreskin is used to make a concoction which is consumed by men to enhance their performance in bed. She also claimed that "women of the night" use a dried and treated foreskin to rub on their private parts to attract customers.

"The male foreskin is in huge demand for sexual enhancement for both men and women and traditional healers are prepared to pay any amount for them as they also fetch handsomely on muti prepared using it," claimed the Sangoma.

In another revelation, the Sangoma claimed that the foreskin is also used to make muti for livestock to reproduce more. According to the sangoma the muti is administered on both the male and the female animal to enhance their sexual cycle.

"If administered on animals the muti increases the animals' sex drive to that of human beings and so get involved continuously there by giving them more reproduction."

A ministry of health official at Lukosi Hospital dismissed claims that health officers at the centre were selling the foreskins to traditional healers referring reporters to the Ministry of Health Officials at the District Medical Officer's Office for an official statement.

SOUTH AFRICA: 11 circumcision deaths so far this season

AP via CTV News (Canada)
June 26, 2014

Botched circumcision rituals in South Africa kill 11 young men

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa - The South African government says 11 young men have died so far this year in botched circumcision rituals that have killed hundreds in past years.

The government said in a statement Thursday that seven of the deaths in the current initiation season happened in South Africa's Eastern Cape province.

The ministry is urging traditional leaders to work with state medical experts to prevent deaths, some of which are due to dehydration and septic shock. It also says owners of illegal initiation schools should be arrested and prosecuted.

The circumcision ceremonies are meant to usher youths into manhood. Initiations are mostly practiced by the Xhosa tribe in eastern South Africa.