Thursday, June 23, 2016

COPENHAGEN: Government claims it is a human right to cut (male) babies' genitals

Business Insider
June 16, 2016

Denmark defends circumcision as a human right - even though 75% are against it

by Vilhelm Carlström
Even though a large majority of Danes are against the circumcision of boys, and even though the circumcision of girls is strictly prohibited in Denmark, the government has now officially accepted that it's a human right for parents to circumcise their sons.

The Local reports that a YouGov survey from 2014 showed that 74% of Danes were against the circumcision of boys, while only 10% supported the practise. Despite that, about 1000-2000 boys ar circumcised each year in Denmark, according to the CPH Post.

Since 2014, the matter has been reviewed but without much to show for it.

In 2015, Denmark decided to delete its registry of circumcised individuals, reports the Local. Now, in a report to the United Nations the Danish government officially accepts an Egyptian convention which recognizes circumcision as a human right, writes CPH Post.

The basis is that circumcision of boys is rarely associated with medical complications, when performed under medical supervision [this is equally true of the "circumcision" of girls in Indonesia and Malaysia], and that it's viewed as a religious expression and therefore falls under the freedom of religion right.

Circumcision of boys will therefore remain legal as it complies with Danish law and is carried out by a doctor.

Male circumcision can lead to a more problematic sex life. 
Contrary to claims that circumcision in males is unproblematic, however, a Danish study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2011 finds that circumcision leads to frequent orgasm difficulties in Danish men. The study also finds that women who are the sexual partners of circumcised men also have significantly higher orgasm difficulties, more problems with painful intrcourse (dyspareunia), and more often feel a sense a incomplete fulfillment of sexual needs.

JERUSALEM: Metzitzah: Two boys contract herpes

The Jerusalem Post
June 3, 2016

Two recent cases [of] herpes in babies following Brit Milah

by Jeremy Sharon
The Schneider Children’s Medical Center for Israel in Petah Tikva has reported two recent cases in which baby boys have been infected with the herpes virus following their brit mila.

The infections are believed to be the result of ritual circumcisions in which the metzitza ba’peh procedure was used, whereby the mohel, or person performing the circumcision, uses his mouth to suction blood off the penis after the foreskin has been cut off.

This practice is mentioned in the Talmud and codifications of Jewish law, but is now uncommon outside of the haredi community because of the risk of infection, and suction is achieved instead by means of a sterile plastic tube.

According to Schneider, one baby was released last week after having been infected with herpes, while another baby was admitted to the hospital two months ago with the same disease.

“Both children were quickly examined, treated appropriately and released in excellent condition. Both of them will continue to receive oral treatment until the age of six months,” Schneider said.
The hospital reiterated its backing of suction via a tube instead of by mouth “to avoid this difficult infection.”

According to Rabbi Moshe Marciano, director of the circumcision division of the Chief Rabbinate, the infected babies did not have the same mohel.

In one case, the mohel was the father of the infected baby, and is not an authorized mohel, while the second family refused to give the details of the mohel who performed the circumcision.

The Health Ministry confirmed that only one mohel had been identified, but did not indicate that is was the father of the baby.

Marciano said metzitza ba’peh is an approved practice for mohels authorized by the Chief Rabbinate, but added that parents can request that it not be used and the mohel is obliged to conform.

He also said that rabbinate guidelines state if the mohel has any wound or infection in his mouth he must not do metzitza ba’peh.

Metziza ba’peh has caused controversy in recent years, most notably in New York where at least 17 cases of herpes have been reported since 2000, resulting in two deaths.

Earlier story

CAIRO: Girl dies after genital cutting

The Inquistr
June 2, 2016

Female Genital Mutilation Results In Death Of 17-Year-Old Egyptian Girl Maya Mohamed Mousa

by Lindsay McCane
Maya Mohamed Mousa, a 17-year-old Egyptian girl, has died after undergoing an illegal procedure known as female genital mutilation, or female circumcision.

According to Reuters, Mousa and her twin sister arrived at the private El Canal Hospital in Suez to undergo female circumcision on Sunday. Although the procedure was performed under anesthesia, Mousa died after experiencing heavy bleeding. Thankfully, Maya’s sister survived.

Sedkhi Sidhom, an official from Egypt’s health ministry, said the hospital has since been shut down, and Egyptian prosecutors are investigating Mousa’s death.

“Not all cases of female circumcision are reported across Egypt. There are cases of circumcision where the women die and are then buried without a word being mentioned,” Sidhom said.

While there are thousands of deaths due to FGM each year, many go without being acknowledged. However, there are some that make headlines like Mousa’s. Last year, Raslan Fadl, a medical doctor, was convicted of manslaughter in Egypt’s first female genital mutilation trial after a 13-year-old girl died during a botched procedure. Suad Abu-Dayyeh, Middle East and North Africa consultant at rights group Equality Now, said Fadl was sentenced to more than two years in prison, but has yet to serve time behind bars.

“It is incredible that the Egyptian police are not taking a tough line on ending FGM in a country where over 27 million have been affected,” Abu-Dayyeh said in a statement. “The death of the 17-year-old should be yet another shocking wake up call for Egypt.”
...

WASHINGTON, DC: Bill protects boy-baby-genital-cutting, ritual slaughter as "religious freedom"

Freedom to cut babies, but not from being cut

The Jerusalem Post
May 19, 2016

House passes bill protecting circumcision, ritual slaughter as religious freedoms

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A bill unanimously approved by the U.S. House of Representatives would extend religious protections to advocates of circumcision and ritual slaughter as well as atheists, addressing what its sponsors describe as an increase in religious persecution in recent years.

The bill, passed Monday, would broaden the definition of “violations of religious freedom” in the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to include the persecution of advocates of male circumcision or ritual animal slaughter. [Does that include any opposition to male genital cutting or ritual slaughter?] Atheists would become a new protected class. 

The measure, which moves to the Senate for consideration, was named for retired Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., a longtime champion of human rights who authored the 1998 law.


114th CONGRESS
2D Session

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
May 17, 2016
Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

AN ACT
To amend the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 to improve the ability of the United States to advance religious freedom globally through enhanced diplomacy, training, counterterrorism, and foreign assistance efforts, and through stronger and more flexible political responses to religious freedom violations and violent extremism worldwide, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SEC. 102. Annual Report on International Religious Freedom.
(a) In general.—Section 102(b)(1) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (22 U.S.C. 6412(b)(1))
["Each Annual Report {of the Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom} shall contain the following:"]
is amended—
(3) in subparagraph (B) ["Violations of Religious Freedom"], in the matter preceding clause (i) ["An asseessment and description of the nature and extent of violations of religious freedom in each foreign country, including persecution of one religious group by another religious group, religious persecution by governmental and non-governmental entitites, persecution targeted at individuals or particular denominations or entire religions..."—

(A) by inserting “persecution of lawyers, politicians, or other human rights advocates seeking to defend the rights of members of religious groups or highlight religious freedom violations, prohibitions on ritual
animal slaughter or male infant circumcision,” after “entire religions,”...




“The world is experiencing an unprecedented crisis of international religious freedom, a crisis that continues to create millions of victims; a crisis that undermines liberty, prosperity and peace; a crisis that poses a direct challenge to the U.S. interests in the Middle East, Russia, China and sub-Saharan Africa and elsewhere,” Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., who authored the bill, said in a statement.

There have been increasing calls in recent years in northern European countries for an end to circumcision and ritual slaughter, spurred in part by anti-Muslim hostility [but mainly by a well-founded concern for human rights], U.S. government and European Jewish officials have said. [And that constitutes "persecution of advocates" how?]
 
The bill’s tier system for how well or poorly countries protect religious freedom would be similar to the one used in the annual State Department report on human trafficking. That report is influential, and countries seeking the good graces of the United States strive to improve their ranking by cracking down on the practice.

Smith is the chairman of the House subcommittee on human rights, and as a co-chairman of the Helsinki Committee, the congressional panel that monitors human rights overseas, has made the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe a focus.

Smith’s office, announcing the passage of the bill, headlined the statement “Combating Persecution of Christians and Anti-Semitism,” although many of its protections would extend in the current climate to moderate Sunni Muslims and non-Sunni Muslim sects in the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Myanmar.

Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Calif., the bill’s lead Democratic sponsor, said in the same statement that the bill would “better address the religious freedom and violent extremism problems being experienced in the 21st century.”

The bill integrates the 1998 law’s protections into U.S. national security priorities, mandating that the ambassador at large for religious freedom – currently Rabbi David Saperstein, a veteran Reform movement leader — report directly to the secretary of state. It also adds new requirements for presidential reporting to Congress on religious freedom violations and training for diplomats in identifying violations of religious freedoms.

ZIMBABWE: 14-year-old dies from genital cutting in hospital

Manica Post (Zimbabwe)
May , 2016

Circumcision goes terribly wrong. . . as boy dies during procedure

by Samuel Kadungure, Senior Reporter
A 14-YEAR-OLD boy, Ashley Matsvaire, died while undergoing voluntary medical male circumcision at Triangle Hospital in Chiredzi, on Tuesday, The Manica Post can reveal.

The incident left the boy’s parents seething with anger and alleging negligence on part of the hospital staff.

Mr Daniel Matsvaire, the boy’s father, said they had since requested an independent pathologist to ascertain the actual cause of his death.

The Matsvaires have since met the medical team whose explanation for Ashley’s death was internal secretion which resulted in water being leaked into his lungs.

His mother, Mrs Tendai Jamela, said her son was in a jovial mood when she escorted him to the hospital for circumcision around 6am.

“There is an element of negligence on the part of the team involved because when he returned from the theatre, he was lifeless. I was called in to look at him, but his body was very cold. I asked Dr Ziki why he was lifeless, but he told me that he had injected him with another injection to stop the pain. I insisted again after some time as he remained in that state of unconsciousness and again the doctor told me not to worry,” said Mrs Jamela.

She said the boy was given an epileptic tablet and water as they prepared him for surgery.

“Ashley was epileptic and they gave him some medication as they prepared him for theatre. They went on to inject him to cause him to sleep while they perform the process, but he never regained consciousness,” said Mrs Jamela, who said she never left the hospital premises and became suspicious when the process dragged for nearly two hours.

Mr Daniel Matsvaire, the boy’s father, said he met the hospital authorities late Wednesday afternoon where he was advised by one Dr Ziki that they had opted to inject the child due to his epileptic condition.

“The doctor said the circumcision surgery was successful and at some point the boy showed signs of life, but became unconscious again. Their explanation was that he developed an internal secretion and released water into the lungs and died.

We are requesting a second specialist opinion from an independent pathologist because their explanation does not add up....

Masvingo police spokesperson, Inspector Charity Mazula, said ...“I ... have tasked someone in Chiredzi to investigate the matter[.]”...

Friday, April 29, 2016

ILLINOIS: American Academy of Pediatrics backs down, a bit, sort of.

Pediatrics
May 2016

The Circumcision Debate: Beyond Benefits and Risks

by Andrew L. Freedman and M.D. Faap

In 2007, following a flurry of reports describing a benefit of circumcision in the fight against HIV, the American Academy of Pediatrics reconvened the task force on circumcision to update its policy statement of 1999.[1] Rather than simply incorporating this new information, the committee chose to start from scratch and rereview the medical literature. The task force’s work culminated in a policy statement published in 2012, the centerpiece of which was the statement that “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks.”[2] This formulation of the debate, “benefits versus risks” rather than “medical necessity,” [or "benefits and harms", or "functions of the foreskin" or "ethics"]  resulted in wide-ranging ramifications.

To many, especially in the lay press, this was interpreted as moving the needle from a neutral stance, as the 1999 guidelines were viewed, to being pro circumcision. It was vigorously criticized by anticircumcision activists, as well as many, primarily European, physicians and medical societies. Difficulties with this approach included the lack of a universally accepted metric to accurately measure or balance the risks and benefits.  [In fact, the AAP made no effort to balance them at all] In particular, there was insufficient information about the actual incidence and burden of nonacute [or acute] complications [or death].[3] In this issue, Sneppen and Thorup[4] use meticulous epidemiologic technique to assess the likelihood of needing a circumcision in a society in which the cultural norm is to preserve the prepuce. [And they find that likelihood to be less than one in 200] Work such as this, along with the subsequent avalanche of reports evaluating the risks and benefits [What "avalanche" apart from a flurry of advocacy articles by wild-eyed Brian Morris?], has helped to inform and animate the dialogue among physicians with a stake in the circumcision debate. But has this really helped to inform the public? Or are we just arguing among ourselves?

What is often lost in the reporting on the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines was the second half of the benefits/risk sentence, “the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it, ” and later “health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision.” [This line was missing from most summaries.] What was the task force really saying?

To understand the recommendations, one has to acknowledge that when parents decide on circumcision, the health issues are only one small piece of the puzzle. In much of the world, newborn circumcision is not primarily a medical decision. [In most of the world it is not a decision at all.] Most circumcisions are done due to religious and cultural tradition. In the West, although parents may use the conflicting medical literature to buttress their own beliefs and desires, for the most part parents choose what they want for a wide variety of nonmedical reasons.

There can be no doubt that religion, culture, aesthetic preference, familial identity, and personal experience all factor into their decision. Few parents when really questioned are doing it solely to lower the risk of urinary tract infections or ulcerative sexually transmitted infections. Given the role of the phallus in our culture, it is not illegitimate to consider these realms of a person’s life in making this nontherapeutic, only partially medical decision. [The owner of a phallus, unlike a mere penis, is an adult man. He is the only one with any right to make this nontherapeutic, only partially medical decision.] The task force was sensitive to the fact that as physicians, although we claim authority in the medical realm, we have no standing to judge on these other elements.

The ethical standard used was “the best interest of the child,” and in this setting the well-informed parent was felt to be the best proxy to pass this judgment. [But there is no need for a judgement, and hence no need for a proxy.] Protecting this option was not an idle concern [Who said this option has to be protected, or that paediatricians have any role in protecting it?] at a time when there are serious efforts in both the United States and Europe to ban the procedure outright. [No, only to agre-restrict it until the owner is of an age to decide for himself whether  he wants less penis. ]

...

In circumcision, what we have is a messy immeasurable choice that we leave to parents to process and decide for themselves rather than dictate to them. [False dichotomy. The real choice is between leaving the baby alone and anyone being allowed to cut healthy parts off her or him or them.]  This may seem odd in a society in which circumcision is rarely sought, but makes perfect sense in the multicultural world in which many of us live. [The elephant in the room here is the ethics of performing unnecessary, nontherapeutic, only partially medical reductive genital surgery on a non-consenting person.]

To the medical community, your efforts to improve our ability to accurately educate parents are needed. [Physician, educate thyself. Learn about the complex structure and many functions of the foreskin before you claim any right to educate others about it.] But we have to accept that there likely will never be a knockout punch that will end the debate.

...

To the anticircumcision activists, I would suggest that rather than directing an angry focus on the negative and the courts, your efforts would be better spent to educate and promote the prepuce positively [which is why we call ourselves "intactivists"] , to win in the court of public opinion, and to change the culture, so as to make having a foreskin be the “popular thing to do.” {He still doesn't get it. Having a foreskin is not something you do, because it is "popular". A foreskin is something you have as of right because you were born with it, unless someone steals it from you.]

I know it sounds naïve, but my challenge to all of us is to imagine a day we can peacefully live in a world in which not all penises have to look the same. ['Why can't we just get along?' They don't have to look the same, but how they look should be up to their owners, nobody else. And it's not all about looks.]


REFERENCES

 1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Circumcision Policy Statement. Task Force on Circumcision. Pediatrics. 1999;103(3);686-693. Reaffirmation published on 116(3);796

 2. American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision. Circumcision policy statement. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3):585–586

 3. Blank S, Brady M, Buerk E, et al; American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision. Male circumcision. Pediatrics. 2012;130(3).
Available at: www. pediatrics. org/ cgi/content/ full/ 130/ 3/ e756

4. Sneppen I, Thorup J. Foreskin morbidity in uncircumcised males. Pediatrics. 2016;137(5):e20154340
-----
POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The author has indicated he has no potential confl icts of interest to disclose. [Except being paid to cut babies' genitals, and cutting his own son on his parents' kitchen table, contrary to all surgical protocols.]
 

To cite: Freedman AL and FAAP M. The Circumcision Debate: Beyond Benefi ts and Risks. Pediatrics. 2016;137(5):e20160594

LONDON: Secular Doctors hail Exeter ruling

National Secular Society (UK)
April 22, 2016

Secular medics welcome religious circumcision ruling

A High Court judge has ruled against a devout Muslim who wanted his children circumcised, finding that the boys should be able to make the choice themselves in a judgement welcomed by the Secular Medical Forum.

Dr Antony Lempert of the SMF described the ruling as a small but "welcome" step "towards safeguarding children from forced genital cutting."

Religious requirements "should not be allowed to override a person's most fundamental right to grow up with an intact body and to make their own choices about permanent bodily modifications," he said.

"It is a procedure that permanently removes healthy, erogenous and functional tissue from the most intimate part of a person's body without that person's consent and for no medical reason.

"That it should take a parental disagreement in court for a child to be protected from forced genital cutting remains a serious concern from a child safeguarding perspective."

The judge said that the boys' mother was "resolutely opposed" to having the children circumcised and ruled that "There is no guarantee that these boys will wish to continue to observe the Muslim faith with the devotion demonstrated by their father, although that may very well be their choice."

She added: "They are still very young and there is no way of anticipating at this stage how the different influences in their respective parental homes will shape and guide their development over the coming years."

James Chegwidden, who acted as junior counsel for the mother in the case, said that while he could not comment on the specifics of the case, the ruling was "an encouraging step towards the legal protection every child deserves."

He said that the decision was "a reminder that, together with the freedom to practise a religion or philosophy for oneself, comes the necessary obligation not to impose that religion or philosophy on others."

But he warned that the case revealed "just how limited our current legal protection of our children is."

"Bodily autonomy is a right of every child – it cannot be reduced or ignored simply because both its parents happen to be religious. For a right so fundamental as bodily autonomy for a child to depend totally on the whim of an adult is simply unacceptable.

"The court has still yet to classify infant circumcision as 'significant harm', despite the significant evidence that male genital cutting is at least as invasive as some forms of FGM."

The father, an Algerian-born Muslim who has lived in England for fifteen years, is now separated from the boys' mother, whom he had met ten years ago and subsequently lived with. He entered the UK using false travel documents but was subsequently given a British passport.

The couple separated after the mother, from Devon, and the two boys had to flee their home when he violently attacked her in 2012. He was described as "an increasingly controlling and violent individual who sought to impose restrictions on how she lived her life." He had previously "threatened many times that he will abduct the children to Algeria" and was "violent, threatening and controlling towards the mother."

Mrs Justice Roberts said ..."There are risks, albeit small, associated with the surgery, regardless of the expertise with which the operation is performed.

"There must be clear benefits which outweigh these risks which point towards circumcision at this point in time being in their best interests before I can sanction it as an appropriate course at this stage of their young lives."

The judge's warning about the risks of circumcision came as a medical tribunal heard the case of Dr Muhammad Chaudhary, a doctor accused of bungling a circumcision on a two month old baby, who then allegedly tried to bribe the child's family into dropping a claim against him.

He reportedly told the Muslim family that "Litigation in Muslim culture is not usually a route to adopt especially in ritual matters" in an attempt to stop action being taken against him.

Dr Chaudhary failed to repair the damage he had caused during four further surgeries. After he failed to fix the damage he had caused in the initial operation, he advised the family to "treat him [their son] like the Quran and be gentle."

The child was finally referred to a specialist surgeon, the Mirror reported, and had to endure three additional operations in a hospital.

Doctor Lempert said these cases occurred with "nauseating regularity."

There are practically no restrictions on who can perform forced genital cutting on young (male) children in the UK. The procedure is almost wholly unregulated in the UK. The reality is that we simply don't know the extent of harm caused to young children by ritual circumcision. We do know that many such children turn up in A&E and some need treatment in paediatric Intensive Care Units as a direct result of non-therapeutic circumcision.

"Dr Chaudhary is being investigated because he is a doctor who is alleged to have behaved dishonestly. Ironically, should Dr Chaudhary be removed from the medical register, he would no longer be required to satisfy even the limited requirements of the GMC in this matter and would be free to continue cutting young boys' genitals."

Earlier story