No legal basis for cutting children’s genitals

There has been a lot of correspondence in The Independent concerning genital cutting; it is approaching the long summer holidays a time favoured by adults for cutting the genitals of girls and boys. Much of the fuss has been, quite rightly, focused on the fate of girls but all children have the same rights.

The letter reproduced in part below from Vera Lustig, writing to The Independent, on the 2nd of July contains a common myth about the genital cutting of little boys; namely that male circumcision is legal. Thankfully The Independent did not let her get away with it and published my response.



6 thoughts on “No legal basis for cutting children’s genitals”

  1. “Much of the fuss has been, quite rightly, focused on the fate of girls”

    All of the fuss is focused on the fate of girls, and quite wrongly.
    Forced genital cutting of female children is a crime that potentially carries serious punishment, whereas forced genital cutting of male children carries no punishment whatsoever – as proven by the case of Goodluck Caubergs’ *killer* escaping jail after she performed what we all know to be genital mutilation.

  2. Splendid stuff Richard. We need more men like you to shake society out of its myopic state and see clearly that there is a flagrant human rights abuse being perpetrated right under our noses. Males are clearly being discriminiated against by the existing FGM legislation which criminialises any cutting of female genitalia for reasons other than clinically indicated, and at the same time they are also not enjoying the protection of existing legislation that could be invoked for the same purpose. Although society has left many primitive practices behind as it becomes more advanced and civlised, in this respect we are still living in the dark ages.

  3. Well done Richard! And why shouldn’t we ‘ride piggy back’ on the anti FGM campaign? Girls have protection against mutilating their gentials – and boys WILL have that protection, if we keep up campaigning. Cutting the genitals of any children is outrageous. That some people are still trying to justify it by saying that one sort of cutting is not as bad as another beggars belief!

  4. To say that sexual mutilation of a child by surgical cutting for no other reason than religious ritual is only an abusive crime when performed on girls is an absolute discrimination against boys and men. A child does not choose their religion at birth and there is no turning back from this loss. There has been many disabling consequences of this cutting, including disfiguring fusions, loss of sensitivity, infection, trauma and death. This practice is abhorrent and should be illegal for any child male or female.

  5. All of the comments would seem to cover what I would say. Boys and the men they become have suffered for far too long the cutting of their genitals for no medical need or reason. Genital cutting is designed, and it always was, to humiliate, mark as owned by another, and to diminish sexual pleasure, it does all those. I was mutilated in 1947, and still I suffer.

  6. In the United States, too, circumutilation is De Jure illegal–it constitutes bodily harm and serious wounding of a person. But De Facto, it is tolerated by the “medical” profession, courts and judges, legal and civil authorities, and pretty obviously a large majority of the general public. Why? Blind, unquestioned tradition, for one thing. But mainly, I believe, because too many medical and public-health professionals continue to insist that mutilation lowers the risk of various diseases, up to and including HIV/AIDS. That has been definitively demonstrated to be false, of course–and very likely quite the opposite is true. Intactivists (i.e., human beings concerned with the welfare of all human beings) are slowly winning the humanitarian battle in this country. But we still have many miles to go before we can sleep peacefully in the knowledge that all male babies and underage boys are protected against torture and mutilation.

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