Secular Europe march London Sept. 2012

Men Do Complain is a secular organisation. We do not make policy based on faith, we make policy based on evidence. Most of the evidence is peer reviewed, some is anecdotal and some policy is based on secular law, The Human Rights Act 1998 for example.

Taking faith out of policy making is a logical step if you believe that all people are equal regardless of race, religion, culture, sexual orientation, anatomical difference or any other category that can be used by one group to denigrate another group.

Men Do Complain was delighted to march with friends from other organisations with a secular basis; the Secular Medical Forum working for faith free medical practice and Survivors Voice Europe representing children sexually abused by clerics. Many thanks to the organisers the Secular Europe Campaign.

How many men do complain?

Three questions that are apparently difficult to answer. Very careful study might answer the first question. Research over time will answer the other two questions. Few circumcisions are recorded in medical notes and very few men are followed up into adult life, to see how or if circumcision has affected them.

Physical harm
That circumcision is physically damaging is now beyond doubt. Embryology shows us that the same tissue that becomes the foreskin in males develops into the clitoris in females. The anatomical work of Taylor, Lockwood and Taylor tells us that the foreskin is composed of highly specialised cells with neurological and immunological functions. The work of Sorrells and his team demonstrates that circumcision removes the parts of the penis that are most sensitive to fine touch pressure. So circumcision is only beneficial when it treats a specific and relatively severe problem.

No benefits to children
There is not a single medical association in the world that recommends the routine circumcision of children since there is no benefit to children. A child’s foreskin is physiologically phimotic, not retractable, it should be cleaned like a finger, rinsed on the outside and left alone to develop and separate from the glans naturally. When the young man has gone through puberty he may, rarely, be left with a phimotic, non retractable, foreskin but this can almost invariably be treated conservatively, without circumcision. Education and safe sex in later life will provide more than adequate protection from any of the other problems circumcision is claimed to prevent.

Psychological harm
The silence of men is mistaken for satisfaction. This site and others are collecting data that is likely to reveal that men are psychologically harmed by non-therapeutic circumcision.
One example of the psychological damage unnecessary circumcision can cause is alexithymia; a disorder where people have difficulty identifying and expressing their emotions [13]. Those affected become less able to empathize with others. Sufferers of severe alexithymia are so removed from their feelings that they view themselves as being robots. If acquired at an early age, such as from infant circumcision, alexithymia might limit access to language and impede the socialization process that begins early in life.

Cosmetic outcome
A paper titled “The long term outcome of severe hypospadias“[5] may seem unrelated but this paper is about the surgical repair of an abnormality seen at birth when the tube that should close to convey urine along the penis does not close completely leaving an opening on the underside of the shaft of the penis, through which urine can pass. The repair of the abnormality if it is severe often involves the use of the foreskin as replacement tissue. This long term follow up study asked the men for their views on the cosmetic outcome of the surgery and got the following response.

“Of those who consider their penile appearance to be ‘abnormal’, this is owing to the absence of foreskin in four cases”

The total number of men whose foreskins were used to effect the repair was 27, a small sample size, fortunately hypospadias is a rare condition,  4 men out of 27 works out at 14.8%. Fifteen percent of all the men who have been circumcised and therefore have had their foreskins removed may well feel that the appearance of their penis is “abnormal”. The resulting calculation works out as a very big number that represents a lot of men unhappy with the cosmetic outcome, never mind any other problems.

Follow up
So if a long term follow up approach was used on the male population who have been subjected to non-therapeutic excision of their foreskins what would be the results?  Sadly this work has never been done. Perhaps no one wants to know the answer.

Dear Chancellor Merkel…

On the 21st of July Men Do Complain took the following letter to the German Embassy in Belgrave Square, London.

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

We represent the voices that you may not have heard concerning the ruling of the Cologne Court which decided that religious male circumcision “violated the child’s rights” and caused “bodily harm”.

We ask that you support the Cologne ruling [11] and resist calls for it to be overturned or sidestepped. We applaud the courage of the court in making this judgment and are delighted to see that other countries such as Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and possibly Ireland, are looking to follow Germany’s example.

The U.K. High Court when asked to give permission for a child to be circumcised for religious reasons decided that the child’s right to choose his or her own religion, when competent to do so, outweighs the parents’ rights to manifest their religion.

The point was clarified by Mr. Justice Munby when considering the point under the European Convention of Human Rights in his judgment in the case of “S”:

“….however much respect one pays to religion or to any particular religion, and whatever the religion and the nature of the religious beliefs in issue in the particular case, a parental view based on religious belief, however profound, can never be determinative when it comes to considering what is to be done in relation to a child. After all, although Article 9 of the Convention guarantees “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, the right to “manifest” one’s religion, whether in worship, teaching, practice or observance, is subject to such limitations, prescribed by law, as are “necessary in a democratic society … for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” The mother’s rights under Article 9, in other words, are qualified by S’s rights…”
( [2005] EWHC 1490 (Fam) 11th July 2005 )

That male circumcision causes harm is beyond doubt. Unrebutted peer reviewed studies have shown that the male foreskin is an essential component of a complete sex life for both men and women.

Please listen to our voice and keep in mind this quote:

“Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free in identical circumstances to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make choices for themselves.”
(Rutledge J in the United States Supreme Court in Prince v Massachusetts (1944) 321 US 158 at p 170: )

The Cologne Court has given confidence to the children harmed by the practice of forced male circumcision who are now men, to raise their voices without fear of ridicule about a subject which has been ignored for far too long. Please do not be afraid to offer protection to children who cannot resist the irreversible actions of adults.
Yours etc.


Thank you
Men Do Complain is deeply grateful to all those who came to show their support for the Cologne ruling and to promote the right of all children to grow up free of any genital modification without an absolute medical imperative.

Two letters

In Germany the Court in Cologne issued a ruling [11] which stated that the religious circumcision of a boy “violated his rights” and caused “bodily harm.” Subsequently a flurry of articles have appeared in the press with the aim of preserving the status quo, namely that non-therapeutic male circumcision should be seen as a benign procedure.

The truth is very different, the evidence from the physical sciences is overwhelming, circumcision is a significant body modification.

Psychological evidence is limited and research is underfunded, we simply have no idea of the harm that might be being caused.

Demographers have found evidence of psycho-sexual dysfunction [12] in adult men that is associated with circumcision. The two letters that follow have not been published by the Sunday Times. They are included here because of their passion and reason.

From Dr John Warren
Minette Marrin tells her readers ‘Here’s one form of child abuse we simply have to live with’, referring to non-therapeutic circumcision of male children, and she is wrong.   My own body was mutilated by this abuse 70 years ago and it was 50 years before I dared to face ridicule and raise my lone voice against it.   By now I have been joined by more and more protesters, men and women, from all cultural and religious backgrounds, and we shall never be silent.   Our protests will only grow until this form of child abuse is ended in this realm.   I may not live to see it, but I can assure Ms Marrin that there will come a time when medical students will ask their professor of ethics in astonishment:  ‘Did doctors really do that to healthy babies in Britain in the 21st century?’

John Warren, Physician,
Chairman and Founder of NORM-UK

From Laura MacDonald
Dear Sir,
A few weeks ago you printed a story of a dentist’s offer to excise the clitoral hood of a Muslim girl, arousing nationwide outrage on her behalf. This weekend, Minette Marrin jauntily offers up the nerve-rich hoods of thousands of small defenceless boys as a trade for what she calls ‘religious harmony’.

Is it any wonder we can’t tackle FGM in any of its forms in this country when we suffer such bizarre doublethink?

A girl’s small foreskin is deemed so precious that we offer a sentence of up to 14 years in jail if someone takes it from her; a boy’s larger and more functional one is apparently so expendable it can be traded by someone he has never met, in return for her peace of mind.

Facts are also apparently expendable to Marrin. Far from having ‘tiny’ risks in the developed world, male infant circumcision is associated with life threatening harm: in Birmingham, where cultural circumcision is undertaken by the NHS, 11 boys were treated in paediatric intensive care with life threatening haemorrhage or infection in 2011 (in one hospital alone). In Oldham, the PCT has provided under Freedom of Information a report showing 9 babies suffered circumcision haemorrhage and shock over a period of five years – one bled to death. Evidence of long term urinary problems is also growing, with many Muslim and Jewish boys suffering a painful surgical procedure to open a urethra closed by scar tissue. And this is even without talking of surgical slips, of extreme pain and of the psychosexual feelings around loss of a mobile primary erogenous zone.

I expected better of the Sunday Times than this, and better of Marrin. Firstly, this debate should be based on facts not myths. Secondly, one doesn’t make trades with other people’s assets, least of all children’s private parts.

Yours sincerely
Laura MacDonald

Men Do Complain is deeply grateful to all those who speak for the children who cannot protect themselves from the inappropriate activities of adults.

Bournemouth vigil

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.