25th June 2012. Men Do Complain staged its annual vigil to remind the doctors attending the British Medical Association’s Annual Representative’s Meeting (doctors’ trade union) that cutting the genitals of healthy boys who cannot give personal informed consent is profoundly unethical.
Our mission was to support the doctors from the Secular Medical Forum who proposed motion 336; the motion called on the B.M.A. to debate the ethical, medical and financial issues surrounding the circumcision of non-consenting males.
Motion 336 proposed
“That this meeting:
(i) Demands that child safeguarding procedures must apply to all children without gender discrimination and irrespective of the beliefs or social status of the child’s parents or guardians;
(ii) Notes the increasing evidence of significant complications from childhood male circumcision, including meatal stenosis, bleeding, infection, scarring and adult psychosexual dysfunction;
(iii) Endorses the May 2010 position statement of the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) which called non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors a violation of children’s rights to autonomy and physical integrity;
(iv) Notes the GMC guidance in respect of the responsibilities of registered medical practitioners in the matter of female genital mutilation (FGM) (0-18 years: Guidance for all doctors; end notes reference 15) – and as set down in the 2003 FGM legislation;
(v) Insists on equality between GMC policies for doctors concerning females and males in respect of non-therapeutic genital surgery.
(vi) Calls for no further commissioning or funding of non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors in the NHS;”
Disappointingly motion 336 was not chosen to be debated. The reception that we received in 2011 at the Cardiff meeting was slightly confrontational; this year those opposed only showed us the cold shoulder and there were more delegates supportive to our cause than last year. Thank you to all who turned up and to all who supported us behind the scenes.
Men Do Complain held a vigil on Wednesday 22nd of February outside the B.M.A. Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP. We got there at 08:30 and stayed until the rain, cold and wind overcame us. The reason for the vigil was that the B.M.A. were discussing ethics and once again the non-therapeutic cutting of boy’s genitals was not on the agenda. The vigil went very well and the public really are on our side.
Several circumcised men approached us and quite openly said that they were glad someone was taking a stand. One surprise was the number of friendly car hoots and we didn’t even have a sign saying hoot if you agree.
A lot of doctors on their way into the meeting made us feel very welcome. One quote was “You are so right may I take a couple of leaflets for my students?” We of course obliged.
A paediatric surgeon made it clear he was angry with his colleagues for continuing to circumcise children who have no need of such treatment and cannot give informed consent.
A big thank you to all those who turned out especially to our two photographers and to those who were coming in the afternoon but were prevented by the weather.
On the 6th of August 2011 Men do complain and NORM-UK chairman Dr John Warren delivered an open letter to the British Medical Association. The letter detailed the unethical nature of the medical establishment’s position regarding the circumcision of male minors.
The action then moved along the Euston Road to the headquarters of the General Medical Council where a copy of the letter was handed in. Over two hundred “Happy anniversary” flyers were handed out and the members of the public we met were receptive and supportive.
Men do complain is proud to have stood shoulder to shoulder with members of NORM-UK and others outside the British Medical Association’s annual representatives meeting in Cardiff.
The ethical, medical and legal issues surrounding the circumcision of male children not competent to consent are issues that will not go away. The number of enlightened doctors is growing and the numbers of doctors from the dark ages is falling.
See the BBC news web site for a report on the protest in Cardiff. In the report Dr Antony Lempert details the ethical anomalies and dangers of cutting the genitalia of non-consenting children.