New section on male circumcision from CRIN

The Child Rights International Network has released the 2018 edition of their report, “What Lies Beneath”. The current version of this report, quoted below, outlines CRIN’s views on non-therapeutic male circumcision:

Male circumcision is an irreversible procedure to surgically remove the foreskin from the human penis. It’s routinely carried out on newborns and adolescents within Jewish and Muslim communities, respectively; on infants out of social convention among nonreligious communities in some Western countries, most notably the United States; and on teenage boys as a rite of passage within some ethnic groups in parts of Africa.

When performed for religious or cultural – not medical – reasons, it flatly designates routine circumcision as medically unjustifiable. In fact, there’s growing support within the medical community against male circumcision as a routine practice since its non-therapeutic basis means it does not comply with medical ethics.

In sum, routine male circumcision involves the removal of healthy tissue for no medical reason from one of the most sensitive body parts, unnecessarily exposing a child to the risks of surgery, and usually at an age when they lack the capacity to consent or refuse consent. Recorded complications include bleeding, panic attacks, infection, disfigurement, necrosis and amputation, and even death.

Exposing a child to such risks without curative or rehabilitative justification goes against medical ethics, as well as parental responsibilities to protect a child from injury and harm.

Advocates say the decision to circumcise should not rest with anyone except a boy himself when he’s old enough to give his free and informed consent, or refuse it.

 

“Unspeakable Mutilations”

Men are coerced by society to keep silent if they feel damaged by circumcision. A man complaining about what is essentially a sexual assault will be greeted with statements like “Oh you’ve just got a problem” or “You’ve got a bee in your bonnet”. Almost never will they be greeted with sympathy or any understanding. Watson’s book does an enormous amount to break the silence and to encourage a compassionate view of men who have had an unnecessary procedure forced on them.

DSC_0865crop26wWatson’s introduction to the book is a neat summary of the well documented harms caused by male circumcision. The papers published by various academics and scientists working in the fields covered by human biology have all concluded that the foreskin which is removed by the act of circumcision is a functional and specialised component of the male anatomy. Academic papers can be a challenge to digest, Watson’s introduction is easy to comprehend and gives excellent references if the reader wants to study the subject of physical harm further.

The heart of the book is the light it shines onto the psychological damage caused by non-therapeutic male circumcision. Watson examines what little evidence there is in the the academic sphere and goes on to provide the stories of 50 men, from a wide range of cultures and ages, who tell us about their journeys from the discovery of what has been done to them, to the harm it has caused, and their reaction to that harm. Often men who have taken this path arrive at a positive or at least optimistic place.

What can no longer be in doubt, thanks to Watson’s book and the brave men who tell their stories, is that some men do suffer a significant amount of damage as a result of an anachronistic and inappropriate medical practice. Some men may claim to be unharmed and even be happy with their circumcision but the question lingers about how comfortable you are knowing that a large number of men do suffer in silence from the misguided parenting and the unnecessary medical treatment they have received. Surely the prudent course of action is to let the child mature and then make his own decision.