Monday, January 27, 2014

STRASBOURG: Hearing about circumcision to be webcast

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
January 26, 2014

Hearing on the circumcision of young boys

A parliamentary hearing on the circumcision of young boys is to take place in Strasbourg at 2 p.m. on Tuesday 28 January 2014 on the margins of the plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).

The hearing – organised by PACE’s Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development – will bring together medical experts, including those representing the Jewish and Muslim communities, and parliamentarians, and will be streamed live over the web.

It follows the adoption in October 2013 of the Assembly’s resolution and recommendation on “children’s right to physical integrity” and aims to encourage the open debate between different disciplines called for by the Assembly in these texts.

Participants include:
  • Bernard Lobel, urologist, Professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Rennes (France), member of the French Academy of Surgeons
  • Mesrur Selçuk Silay, paediatric urologist, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, Bezmialem Vakif University (Istanbul, Turkey)
  • Wolfram Hartmann, paediatrician and President of the Professional Federation of Paediatricians and Youth Doctors (Germany)
  • Ronald Goldman, researcher and Director of the Circumcision Resource Center (Boston, USA)
  • Marlene Rupprecht, former PACE rapporteur on this issue
Representatives of religious organisations, including the Conference of European Rabbis and the French Council of the Muslim Faith, are expected to attend, as well as NGOs active in this field. Members of the Knesset, which holds observer status with PACE, are also due to take part.

The 1995 television documentary “It's a Boy” by British director Victor Schonfeld, as well as extracts from another film – currently in production – putting forward the point of view of the Knesset observer delegation, will be screened prior to the hearing, at 1 p.m. in the same room.

Practical information
The hearing will take place from 2 to 3.30pm French time in Room 1 of the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg.

Web streaming: the hearing will be streamed live over the web, in the original language, English, French, German, Italian and Russian. A recording (original language, English and French) will be made available on the website of the Assembly.

Earlier story

MELBOURNE: 14-year-old hospitalised after backyard circumcision

the Herald Sun (Melbourne)
January 26, 2014

DHS wants teen returned to mum who held him down while circumcised by witchdoctor

by Shannon Deery
THE Department of Human Services is trying to force a 14-year-old boy who was pinned down by his mother while he was forcibly circumcised by an international witchdoctor to return to live with her.

The teen remained conscious throughout the procedure.

The boy has told authorities he was one of 13 young boys across Melbourne to experience similar backyard procedures by the visiting witchdoctor on Boxing Day, in line with his mother's South Pacific culture.

The boy was rushed to the Royal Children's Hospital in the days after the circumcision because of complications with his recovery.

The boy was in so much pain doctors had to anaesthetise him so they could remove bandaging from his genitalia.

The boy was removed from his mother's care under a protection order, but the Department of Human Services yesterday applied to have the order withdrawn.

The move is being opposed by the boy's father, who made a complaint to police after learning about the procedure.

It is believed the boy's siblings were home at the time and might have witnessed the operation.

Authorities have been told the boys' families paid for the witchdoctor's flights to and from Melbourne, and for each of the circumcisions he performed.

It is believed he performed the operations in suburbs including Springvale, Werribee and Point Cook.
The witchdoctor is believed to visit Melbourne regularly to perform the procedures for the small community who believe the circumcision of boys is an important rite of passage that marks them as men.

In the boy's family's country of origin, the culturally significant milestone is performed in hospital and paid for by the government.

Victorian Opposition spokeswoman for children Jenny Mikakos called on the State Government to explain if this had happened before and if it could happen again.

"How can the department allow this invasive procedure to occur when one parent and the child himself are vehemently against it?" Ms Mikakos said.

Australasian Institute for Genital Autonomy chairman Paul Mason called for moves to ban circumcision.

"In this instance it seems to have been a cultural practice, and many cultures have unnecessary genital surgery,'' Mr Mason said.

"In this country we've outlawed female circumcision, but for some reason it's still OK to circumcise a boy. I can't see why it's better to cut a boy than to cut a girl. There's no logic.''

Mr Mason said he was shocked the procedure would be carried out in backyards, saying the risk of complications existed at the best hospitals in the world.

HS would not comment as the matter is before the courts.

STOCKHOLM: Swedish doctors want tighter rules for circumcision

Information (Denmark)
26. januar 2014

Svenske læger vil skærpe regler for omskæringer

Det kirurgiske indgreb burde erstattes af en symbolsk omskæring, mener lægeforening. Minister er afvisende.

Den svenske lægeforening mener, at omskæringer kun skal udføres efter samtykke fra drengen.
Anbefalingen støttes af samtlige medlemmer af foreningens etiske udvalg, skriver Svenska Dagbladet.

Hvis politikerne vælger at følge forslaget, vil det være en skærpelse af de nuværende regler for at omskære drengebørn.

Lægeforeningen begrunder sin indstilling med, at risikoen for bivirkninger ved det kirurgiske indgreb er urimelig høj.

Drenge skal tidligst blive omskåret i 12-13 års alderen. Indgrebet, hvor forhuden bliver fjernet, skal foretages på et hospital og først efter, at der er givet information om smerten og de eventuelle risici, som det kan medføre, mener rådet.

At gå så vidt helt at forbyde omskæringer, hvilket diskuteres i Finland, anses ikke for at være realistisk her og nu, skriver Svenska Dagbladet.

Men grundlæggende mener Läkarförbundet, at det kirurgiske indgreb bør erstattes af en symbolsk omskæring. For eksempel i form af en ceremoni af en eller anden slags.

Den mulighed vil lægerne nu drøfte med med jurister og muslimske repræsentanter.

- Vi er ikke religiøse eksperter, men af medicinske grunde kan vi ikke give vores opbakning til et indgreb, hvor man fjerner væv på kønsorganet, når der er så stor en risiko for alvorlige komplikationer, siger Thomas Flodin fra foreningens etiske råd.

Dansk forskning viser, at der opstår komplikationer i fem procent af samtlige omskæringer - også selv om indgrebet er foretaget af sundhedspersonale på hospitaler.

- At en ud af 20 personer lider af en infektion eller blødninger, er en alt for stor risiko. Især når indgrebet ikke er udført af medicinske grunde, siger Thomas Flodin.

Integrationsminister Erik Ullenhag fra Folkpartiet mener, at den gældende lovgivning er tilstrækkelig.
- Jeg har aldrig mødt en voksen mand, der oplevede omskæringen som et overgreb, siger han til avisen.

(Microsoft translation)
26 January, 2014

Swedish physicians will sharpen rules for circumcision

The surgical procedure should be replaced by a symbolic circumcision, doctors believe. Minister is dismissive.

The Swedish Medical Association believes that circumcision [should be] performed only after consent from the boy.

The recommendation is supported by all the members of the Association's Ethics Committee, Svenska Dagbladet writes.

If politicians choose to follow the proposal, it will be a tightening of the rules currently in force [concerning] circumcising of baby boys.

The Danish Medical Association justifies its recommendation [on the basis] that the risk of side effects from the surgery is excessive.

Boys may be circumcised [at] 12-13 years of age, at the earliest. The procedure, in which the foreskin is removed, must be carried out at a hospital and only after [parents are] given information about the pain and the possible risks it can cause, according to the Council.

To go so far as to completely prohibit circumcision, [being] discussed in Finland, is not considered to be realistic here and now, Svenska Dagbladet writes.

But the Medical Association fundamentally believes that the surgery should be replaced by a symbolic circumcision, for example, in the form of a ceremony of some sort.

They will now discuss the option with doctors, lawyers and Muslim representatives.

"We are not religious experts, but for medical reasons, we cannot give our backing to an intervention where one removes tissue from the genital organ, when there is such a high risk of serious complications," says Thomas Flodin from the Association's ethical Council.

Danish research shows that there will be complications for five percent of all circumcision, even if the procedure is carried out by health care professionals in hospitals.

"For one in 20 people to suffer from an infection or bleeding is too great a risk, especially when the surgery is not performed on medical grounds," says Thomas Flodin.

Integration minister Erik Ullenhag of the Liberal Party believe that the existing legislation is adequate.

"I have never met an adult man who experienced circumcision as an assault," he told the newspaper.

COPENHAGEN: Popular song given to Intactivist campaign

Ekstra Bladet
24. januar 2014

Shu-bi-dua donerer sang til forhuds-kamp

Den danske forening mod børneomskæring - Intact Denmark - får nu hjælp fra et af Danmarks mest folkekære bands
Af: Rune Melchior Sjørvad
Det har længe stået højt på ønskesedlen hos Intact Denmarks talskvinde at få lov til at bruge en helt speciel Shu-bi-dua-sang i foreningens kamp for et forbud mod omskæring af raske, danske drengebørn.

Nu er drømmen gået i opfyldelse, og Shu-bi-dua har kvit og frit stillet nummeret 'Den lille mands sang' til rådighed for foreningen.

For de, der ikke måtte kende den 17 år gamle sang, kan det oplyses, at den meget tydeligt opfordrer til at sætte en stopper for omskæring af drenge.

Blandt andet lyder det i sangen: ' Vi må og skal gøre op med en skik - Et af oldtidens regulativer - At skære et stykke af barnets pik'.

- Det har længe været en slags 'nationalhymne' for foreningen, så at få mulighed for at bruge den lune, humoristiske sang i vores kampagner er en drøm, der er gået i opfyldelse, siger Intact Denmarks talskvinde Lena Nyhus til Ekstra Bladet.

Hun forklarer, at Shu-bi-duas tidligere guitarist Michael Hardinger og sanger Michael Bundesen begge har sagt ja til, at sangen kan bruges som underlægningsmusik i foreningens kommende video-kampagne, uden at Intact Denmark skal betale for det.

Grotesk handling
Om sanggaven fortæller Michael Hardinger via mail fra sit hjem i Las Vegas til Folkets Avis:
- For en del år siden indspillede vi med mit gamle band Shu-bi-dua 'Den lille mands sang', som handlede om omskæring. Måske ikke det mest populære emne hverken dengang eller nu når man skriver popmusik. De andre var meget imod 'Den lille mands sang', som egentlig startede i mit hoved ved, at jeg hørte en stand-upper i USA sige: 'Jøderne er det mest optimistiske folkefærd på jorden. De klipper et stykke af penis, inden de ved, hvor lang den egentlig bliver.' Men den groteske handling krævede, i min hjerne i det mindste, at der blev sat spotlight på denne mishandling af børn, siger Michael Hardinger.

Foreningen Intact Denmark oplyser, at Shu-bi-dua blot er de første af en række danske musikere, der har sagt ja til at støtte op om kampen for et dansk forbud mod omskæring.

Shu-bi-dua. 'Den lille mands sang'
Vi må og skal gøre op med en skik
et af oldtidens regulativer
at skære et stykke af barnets pik
før man ved hvor lang den bliver
Eksperter hævder mod al sund fornuft
at længde er ej lig med lykke
vi siger til manden med saksen: forduft
vi behøver hvert eneste stykke
Og elskovsnatten kan blive til gru
hvis klokkerne slet ikke ringer
ofte man hører: er den inde nu,
eller bruger du stadig din finger?
Så op alle mand - så' det helt op at stå
kæmp for den hud I fortjener
lad kraverne dække de kongeblå
så bli'r de osse lidt pænere

(Microsoft translation, with help)
January 24, 2014

Shu-bi-dua donates song to preputial battle

The Danish Association of child circumcision, Intact Denmark, now gets help from one of Denmark's most beloved bands
by Rune Melchior Sjørvad

It has long been high on the wish list of Intact Denmark's spokeswoman to be allowed to use a very special Shu-bi-dua-song in the Association's campaign for a ban on the circumcision of healthy Danish boy children.

Now the dream has come true, and Shu-bi-dua has given 'the little man's song' to the Association, absolutely free.

National Anthem
For those who may not know the 17-year-old song, it can be reported that it very clearly calls for putting an end to circumcision of boys.

Among other things, it says in the song: 'we must and should do away with a practice - one of the ancient regulations - To cut a piece of child's dick'.

"It has long been a kind of 'national anthem' for the Association, so to get the opportunity to use the warm, humorous song in our campaigns is a dream come true," says Intact Denmark's spokeswoman Lena Nyhus to Ekstra Bladet.

She explains that Shu-bi-Dua's former guitarist and singer Michael Bundesen Michael Hardinger has said yes to that song being used as background music in the Association's upcoming video campaign, without Intact Denmark having to pay for it.

Grotesque act
About the gift of the song Michael Hardinger told the people's newspaper by email from his home in Las Vegas:

"A few years ago we recorded with my old band Shu-bi-dua ' the little man's song ', which was about circumcision. It might not be the most popular subject when one writes pop music, either back then or now. The others were very much against 'the little man's song', which actually started in my head know that I heard a stand-up [comedian] in the United States say: 'The Jews are the most optimistic people on Earth. They cut a piece of the penis before they know how long it actually will be.' But the ludicrous action required, in my brain at least that there was put spotlight on this abuse of children," says Michael Hardinger.

The Association Intact Denmark says Shu-bi-dua is just the first of a number of Danish musicians who have said yes to supporting the fight for a Danish ban on circumcision.

Shu-bi-dua. ' The little man's song '
We must do away with the practice
of ancient regulations
to cut a piece off a child's cock
before you know how long it'll be.
Against all sense, "experts" claim
that length does not equal joy.
We say to the man with scissors: Vanish!
We need every inch!
And a night of love can become gruesome
If the bells don't ring at all
You often hear: is it in yet,
or are you still using your finger?
So get up, guys, completely erect
and fight for the skin you deserve!
Let the hoods cover the royal blue
Then they look a bit nicer too.

LONDON: Gilgal Society head Vernon Quaintance pleads not guilty to crimes against boys

South London Today
January 24, 2014

Pensioner denies string of child sex accusations

A MEMBER of an ancient religious order denied a tring of child sex offences when he appeared in court on Tuesday.

Vernon Quaintance, 70, of Hetley Gardens, Upper Norwood, was a sacristan - responsible for the upkeep of a church building - in the Hospital of John & St Elizabeth in St John's Wood, north London, where the ancient Catholic religious Order of Malta conduct its Masses. The retired telephone engineer is also the founder of the controversial Gilgal Society, which is dedicated to promoting male circumcision.

He denied 10 charges relating to young boys between 1966 and 2011 when he appeared at Southwark Crown Court. Quaintance is accused of foul charge of indecency with children under 16 between 1966 and 1974.

He also faces one charge of sexually assaulting a young boy in 1974 and a further charge of indecent assault on another young boy in 1966.

The four remaining charges relate to indecent images of children ranging from level one to level five in severity discovered at his home in 2011.

Quaintance spoke only to confirm his name and plead not guilty to each charge.

Emeritus Professor Brian Morris's pro-circumcision website still has a list of of "Possible Circumcisers in Australia and New Zealand" carrying the Gilgal Society logo, even though Morris's own "Circumcision Foundation of Australia" publishes a nearly identical but updated list.

Earlier story

DARWIN: Three botched boys "not abused"

ABC News
January 22, 2014

Anger in NT community after circumcision rite ends with three boys airlifted to hospital

by Norman Hermant and Alison McClymont
There is still anger in a remote Northern Territory community after three teenage boys had to be medically evacuated following an Indigenous initiation ceremony which went horribly wrong.

The boys were part of a group of about 20 who were circumcised two days before Christmas near the small Gulf of Carpentaria town of Borroloola, 700 kilometres east of Darwin.

They were so badly cut during the procedure that they had to be taken to Darwin for urgent treatment.
Local ambulance driver William Miller arrived at the ceremony to find his 17-year-old grandson Bryce severely injured.

"I took one look at him and he was sitting in a pool of blood ... and that really hurt me, that did," he said.

"I wasn't happy at all, with the whole people who done the job."

Bryce Miller, who had to be airlifted to hospital, had pushed his grandfather to allow him to participate in the ceremony.

"When I got cut, and I seen the blood squirting through on the wrong side, it was bad. Squirting out bad ... heaps. And losing a lot of blood," he said.

The ABC understands instruments from the local health clinic were used in the ceremony and have regularly been supplied in the past, in line with Health Department guidelines.

Nurses and doctors from the clinic have also attended previous ceremonies, but were not present at last December's ritual.

Some of the clinic's health professionals have told the ABC they were appalled by the injuries they saw. But none is willing to speak publicly for fear of dismissal.

Investigators say injuries do not constitute child abuse
The Northern Territory Government says it is aware of the case, and so far its investigators have found the injuries do not constitute child abuse.

The NT Child Abuse Taskforce received two notifications about the incident, leading to an investigation by two police officers and the Department of Children and Families.

But their enquiries found that the children had not been harmed as defined by the Care and Protection of Children Act.
[Huh? Why not?]
The Department said it would continue to conduct enquiries into the wellbeing of the young men.
NT Attorney-General John Elferink said any suggestion of child abuse was taken very seriously.

"A more fulsome investigation was done in this instance because of the sensitivities involved," he said.

"No abuse was found to have occurred and in the absence of that and in the absence of criminality ... it's a parental decision on how to bring up the kids."

Mr Elferink says he has lived and worked in remote communities and understands how traditional practices occur.

But he believes there should always be checks for child abuse.

"There are number of cultures that operate in the NT and even more Australia-wide - Islamic cultures, Christian cultures, Aboriginal cultures, other religions and other cultural practices," he said.

"So long as those practices don't amount to child abuse, there is no role for the state. So long as those practices don't amount to criminality, there is no role of the state. It's called a free country."

Elders say ceremony a critical cultural step for young men
The circumcision ceremony dates back thousands of years and is common practice in traditional and remote communities across northern Australia.

Elders say the ceremony is a critical cultural step where boys become men.

The elders who supervised the circumcision said the injuries were likely caused by a visiting family member who is still learning the ritual.

"I think some place he make mistake, some place he don't, you know?" said traditional Garrawa elder Keith Rory.

Mr Rory said he had been conducting the ritual for 20 years.

"This ceremony is really strong. It goes back, way back to the old days when it first started," he said.
"People used different sort of stuff with young men ... these days we get it from the clinic but in those days they used stone and stuff they made it themselves.

"It is traditional stuff and it's sacred stuff."

Borroloola's former doctor, Dr Peter Fitzpatrick, says it is not the first time young men have needed medical care after initiation.

"They're doing lots of young men and it's a remote area and I've seen and evacuated young men myself," he said.

Dr Fitzpatrick, whose own sons have been initiated, says with any surgical procedure there are sometimes complications.

"These events occur in remote areas... they're not actually occurring within cooee of an A&E department, and people live in remote areas, that increases the risk," he said.

"The ceremony is very, very important to Indigenous communities.

"As long as there's some procedures and understanding and harm minimisation is there then its maybe at an acceptable level to the community."

Injured teenager has 'no regrets' over ritual
Bryce Miller has recovered from his injuries and says he has no regrets participating in this initiation into manhood.

His grandfather William, on the other hand, says no other family members will ever take part again.

Others in the community, including Garrawa man Gadrian Hoosen, say the ceremony will continue.

"[There's] no point talking about our ceremony because that's not going to stop us from carrying that culture," he said.

"We're going to carry it on."

FLORIDA: "Boys not cut at birth may be later, so taxpayer should foot bill"

the Wall Street Journal
January 20, 2014

Circumcision Coverage Comes Into Focus

Revised Study on Procedure's Benefits Spurs Some States to Reconsider Ending Routine Medicaid Funding for Newborns
by Arian Campo-Flores
Saleem Islam, a pediatric surgeon in Gainesville, Fla., was surprised a few years ago when he started receiving a steady stream of referrals for older boys from low-income families to be circumcised.

"When we ask the parents, 'Why did you not get it done when the child was a baby and when it would have been safer?' they say, 'We couldn't afford it,' " Dr. Islam said recently.
[In other words, these babies never needed it, the parental whim had just overflowed. It is not safer as a newborn.]

Like a dozen other states, Florida ended Medicaid coverage of routine circumcisions for newborns after the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a lukewarm statement on the practice in 1999. While the organization concluded that removing the penis's foreskin has potential benefits, it found the data were insufficient to recommend it as a routine procedure. [If the data are insufficient to recommend it, how can the price make it recommendable?]

So Florida lawmakers justified their decision in part as a way to save money on what the AAP had deemed an unnecessary procedure.

Now, a revised policy statement by the AAP that takes a more favorable stance toward circumcision, along with a series of academic studies examining the impact of reduced coverage of the procedure, has cast a new spotlight on the decision by Florida and other states not to cover it under Medicaid.

In 2012, the AAP concluded that the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks and justify "access to this procedure for families who choose it." The organization stopped short of recommending routine circumcision, however.

Public funding of routine circumcisions for newborns has been hotly debated in recent years. Supporters of the practice say it helps prevent urinary tract infections in babies and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, later in life. But groups opposed to circumcision say the procedure is medically unnecessary and an unnatural, antiquated practice. [Also harmful, risky and a human rights violation.] In the case of the older boys referred to Dr. Islam, complaints ranged from inflammation to difficulty with the foreskin.

Ending Medicaid coverage of routine circumcisions may have stuck the state with a bigger bill instead, according to a group of University of Florida Health researchers that includes Dr. Islam. Costs for circumcisions more than doubled in the five years after the 2003 policy change, the study asserts. That was largely because families were opting to have the procedure done when boys were older—a more costly operation that Medicaid still covers if it is deemed medically necessary.

The number of boys ages 1 to 5 who were circumcised each quarter during the study period reached almost 1,000 in the third quarter of 2008, compared with a little over 500 in the fourth quarter of 2003. In every quarter, those figures exceeded the number of circumcisions for newborns.
[But raw numbers explain nothing withut context: birthrate and neonatal circumcision rate. If the neonatal rate is 100% the number of older boys available for circumcision is 0, so the only way it can go us up, whether there is any medical need or not.]

That helps explain why Medicaid costs for circumcisions in Florida climbed to $33.6 million in 2008 from $14.9 million in 2004, according to the study. [But so does inflation.] While the procedure costs as little as $250 for newborns, it can run more than $6,000 for older boys because they require general anesthesia and sometimes an operating room. Older kids also face a higher risk of complications, doctors say. [This is not true.]

"Given the costs to the state, it would make sense for the state to reverse" its decision, Dr. Islam said.
The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which administers Medicaid, said in a statement that the study "contains interesting points for discussion, but does not appear to provide conclusive medical evidence to allow for coverage of elective circumcisions."

Using a different database, the agency provided data showing circumcision costs under the traditional "fee-for-service" system in Medicaid dropped to $1.2 million last year from $2.3 million in 2002. But those figures don't include other ways Medicaid money pays for the procedure, such as through managed-care plans, Dr. Islam said.
[And his study doesn't include other costs of circumcision, such as the cost of repairing botches.]

Of the 18 states that no longer cover routine circumcisions, 12 made the decision in the wake of the AAP's 1999 policy statement. When the AAP came out with its revised position in 2012, some states weighed changing their policies. Medicaid officials in Utah recommended restoring circumcision coverage in 2013, but the legislature hasn't acted. Another effort by Colorado lawmakers to reinstate such funding failed last year, though the issue is likely to come up again this year.

Studies show the prevalence of circumcision has declined as more states have stopped paying for it. A 2009 paper published in the American Journal of Public Health found that hospitals in states where Medicaid covered the procedure had circumcision rates 24 percentage points higher than those in states that didn't, leading to potential health disparities.

Overall, newborn circumcision rates in the U.S. have been falling, to 58.3% in 2010 from 64.9% in 1981, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In preparing its 2012 statement, the AAP's task force on circumcision considered the fallout from the 1999 declaration, said Douglas Diekema, one of the members. The previous task force "had not foreseen that their statement would lead to a decrease in insurance coverage," he said.
[Yes, and it's all about the money.]
Around the same time, a team of Johns Hopkins University researchers published a study estimating that a 20-year decline in U.S. circumcision rates had resulted in $2 billion in health care costs to treat sexually transmitted infections and other illnesses in uncircumcised men and their female partners.
Anti-circumcision groups questioned the legitimacy of the Johns Hopkins analysis. And they cited a published response to the AAP statement by a group of mostly European doctors who said it reflected "cultural bias" in favor of the procedure.
[Not just any "group of mostly European doctors" but the heads or spokespeople for most of the paediatric associations of Europe.]

Dr. Islam said his stance on circumcision is neutral. "But if a family wants it done and we're going to fund it," he said, "it makes sense to fund it at the right time."
[Those are two big ifs, and why should they be connected?]

Earlier story

COPENHAGEN: Medical Association "fundamentally opposed" to infant circumcision

21. januar 2014

Omskæring skal altid foregå på lægelige behandlingssteder

Det er helt uacceptabelt at tillade omskæring på drengebørn under to måneder andre steder end på et lægeligt behandlingssted, mener Lægeforeningen, som opfordrer Sundhedsstyrelsen til at ændre reglerne.

Sundhedsstyrelsen anbefaler i et udkast til revideret vejledning om omskæring, at drenge, der er ældre end to måneder får indgrebet foretaget på et lægeligt behandlingssted. Denne regel bør naturligvis også gælde for de allermindste børn, som gennemgår dette operative indgreb.

”Drenge, der er yngre end to måneder, har naturligvis også krav på den større sikkerhed, som det giver, at indgrebet foretages på et lægeligt behandlingssted. Omskæring kan som alle andre indgreb medføre komplikationer, og derfor er det vigtigt, at operationen foregår i rammer, der beskytter barnet bedst muligt – uanset alder. Det bør Sundhedsstyrelsen sikre i den nye vejledning,” siger Mads Koch Hansen, formand for Lægeforeningen.

Omskæring bør være et personligt valg
Han understreger, at Lægeforeningen er grundlæggende imod omskæring af drenge, hvis ikke der er en lægelig grund som f. eks. forhudsforsnævring til, at indgrebet foretages.

”Det er meget indgribende, at voksne kan bestemme, at nyfødte skal gennemgå et operativt indgreb, som ikke er lægeligt begrundet, og hvis effekt er livsvarig. Når en dreng når myndighedsalderen, kan han selv tage stilling, men indtil da må hensynet til individets ret til selvbestemmelse veje tungest,” siger Mads Koch Hansen.

Danish Medical Association (Microsoft translation)
21 January, 2014

Circumcision should always be performed in medical treatment facilities

It is totally unacceptable to allow circumcision of male infants less than two months at locations other than a medical treatment facility, according to the Medical Association, calling on the Board of Health to change the rules.

[The Board] recommends [in] draft revised guidelines on circumcision [of] boys who are older than two months [that they] have surgery performed at a medical treatment facility. This rule should of course also apply to the youngest children who undergo these surgical interventions.

"Boys who are younger than two months are, of course, entitled to the greater security it provides [when] the operation is performed at a medical treatment facility. Circumcision like any other interventions lead to complications, and therefore it is important that the operation takes place in a framework that protects the child as [much as] possible - regardless of age. The Board of Health should ensure [this] in the new guide," says Mads Koch Hansen, president of the Association.

Circumcision should be a personal choice
He stresses that the Medical Association is fundamentally opposed to male circumcision unless there is a medical reason, such as phimosis, for carrying out the operation. [And phimosis can not be diagnosed in early childhood.]

"It's very intrusive that adults may decide that the newborn is to undergo a surgical procedure that is not medically justified and [whose] power is lifelong. When a boy [reaches] the age of majority, he may even decide, but until then the requirements of the individual's right to self-determination prevail," says Mads Koch Hansen.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

COPENHAGEN: Mohel resigned to doctors' opposition to circumcision

20. januar, 2014

Han står for omskæringen læger kalder lemlæstelse: Jeg tager det helt roligt

by Jens Anton Havskov
Overrabbiner Bent Lexner, som er den, der personligt foretager de 15-20 årlige rituelle omskæringer af jødiske drengebørn i Danmark, lader sig ikke mærke med, at den store gruppe af almenpraktiserende læger nu sidestiller omskæring af raske med lemlæstelse.

- De må gøre og sige, hvad de vil, og hvis de har den opfattelse, så må jeg jo leve med det. Men jeg kan sige, at jeg tager det helt roligt, siger Bent Lexner til BT.

Langt, langt størstedelen af de 1.000-2.000 omskæringer, som sker herhjemme årligt, udføres på muslimske drenge.

Til forskel fra Mosaisk Trossamfund er det i muslimernes tilfælde læger, der udfører ritualet, hvor forhuden på drengens penis skæres af.

Baggrunden for jødernes omskæring stammer fra Det gamle Testamentes 1. Mosebog, hvor Gud siger til Abraham, at han og hans efterkommere skal bekræfte pagten med Gud ved omskærelsen, som skal udføres på ottende-dagen efter fødslen.

BT (Microsoft translation)

January 20, 2014

He stands for circumcision [which] doctors call mutilation: "I take it quite quietly"

by Jens Anton Havskov
Chief Rabbi Bent Lexner, who is the one who personally carries out the 15-20 annual ritual circumcisions of Jewish boy children in Denmark, allows himself not to notice that the large group of general practitioners now compares circumcision of healthy [children] with mutilation.

"They must do and say what they want, and if they have the view, so I must live with it. but I can say that I take it quite calmly," says Bent Lexner to BT.

By far the vast majority of the 1,000-2,000 circumcisions that happen at home annually, are carried out on Muslim boys.

Unlike Mosaic [Jewish] faith communities, in the Muslims' case, [it is] doctors who perform the ritual, in which the foreskin of the boy's penis is cut off.

The origins of Jewish circumcision is derived from the Old Testament's first book, Genesis, where God says to Abraham, that he and his descendants shall confirm the Covenant with God by circumcision, to be performed on the eighth day after birth.

[Bent Lexner is the rabbi who denied there were any complications in 1000 circumcisions he had performed and was called on it by a senior paediatrician.]

COPENHAGEN: Doctors' "mutilation" stand is "earth-shattering"

BT (Denmark)
20. januar, 2014

Danske læger: Omskæring af drenge er lemlæstelse

Af Jens Anton Havskov
Nu tager lægerne bladet fra munden: Omskæring er et overgreb og bør forbydes
De alment praktiserende læger slår nu en tyk streg i sandet på et i mere end én forstand følsomt område: Omskæring af drenge er det samme som lemlæstelse, med mindre der er særlige medicinske grunde til det.

Det fastslår Dansk Selskab for Almen Medicin, DSAM, i et høringssvar til Sundhedsstyrelsen, som har fastsat en sidste frist til tirsdag 21. januar til at komme med indvendinger og kommentarer til et nyt revideret udkast til styrelsens »Vejledning om omskæring af drenge«.

Dansk Selskab for Almen Medicin har cirka 3.000 medlemmer og omfatter bl.a. to tredjedele af alle landets alment praktiserende læger, så det er en gruppe, der taler med vægt.

I høringssvaret til Sundhedsstyrelsen lyder den klare melding:
- Sundhedsstyrelsen har sendt »Vejledning om omskæring af drenge« i høring. DSAMs bestyrelse har drøftet høringsudkastet og er enige om, at der kun må udføres omskæring, når der foreligger medicinsk indikation. Hvis der udføres omskæring uden medicinsk indikation, er der tale om lemlæstelse.

Omskæring af piger blev gjort ulovlig i Danmark i 2003. Men drengebørn kan stadig med loven i hånd blive omskåret. En handling, der gøres af religiøse grunde for jøder og muslimer.

Det skønnes, at der udføres mellem 1.000 og 2.000 omskæringer af drengebørn herhjemme hvert år. Og en del af dem foretages, af hensyn til religionens bogstav, under private former.

Morten Frisch, overlæge,, ph.d. og professor, er en af de markante fortalere mod omskæring. Han har forsket i emnet og har bl.a. udgivet en artikel i 2011, der vakte international opsigt. I artiklen gør han rede for de mange negative følger, omskæring har eller kan have. Ikke blot fysisk men også psykisk.

Morten Frisch siger til BT:
- Det er epokegørende, at de praktiserende læger nu for første gang går ud og fastslår, at omskæring som udgangspunkt er det samme som lemlæstelse. Det er et meget vigtigt signal, og det kan meget vel være begyndelsen til enden for rituel drengeomskæring i Danmark.

Cand.jur. Hans Jørgen Lassen har gennem sit speciale blotlagt, at Danmark bevæger sig på kanten af både dansk lov og internationale konventioner ved at tillade omskæring. Sammen med Morten Frisch har han - i lighed med DSAM - sendt et høringssvar til Sundhedsstyrelsen. De to skriver bl.a.:
- Omskæring af raske drenge, der ikke kan sige fra, er en krænkelse af deres kropslige og seksuelle integritet. Der er ingen principiel forskel på at skære i kønsorganerne på en lille pige og på en lille dreng. Begge dele krænker barnets ret til selv at bestemme over egen krop. Dette var også konklusionen i to resolutioner fra efteråret 2013 fra henholdsvis de nordiske børneombudsmænd og Europarådets parlamentariske forsamling. Ved en gennemgang af danske lovregler på området, som var emnet for Hans Jørgen Lassens speciale på jurastudiet i 2013, blev det klart, at det juridiske grundlag for, at drengeomskæring uden medicinsk indikation ustraffet kan finde sted i Danmark, er tyndt, ja nærmest ikke-eksisterende.

Det har ikke været muligt at få en kommentar fra DSAMs formand Lars Gehlert Johansen.

BT (Microsoft translation)
January 20, 2014

Danish doctors: Circumcision of boys is mutilation

by Jens Anton Havskov
Doctors are now speaking out: circumcision is a violation and should be banned

General practitioners have drawn a thick line in the sand on a - in more than one sense - sensitive area: Circumcision of boys is the same as mutilation, unless there are specific medical reasons for it.

The Danish Society of General Medicine, DSAM, has laid this out in a consultation response to the Health Protection Agency, which has set a deadline for Tuesday 21st January to come up with objections and comments to a new revised draft Board "Guidance on Circumcision of Boys".

The Danish Society of General Medicine has approximately 3,000 members and includes, among others, two-thirds of all the country's general practitioners, so that it is a group that speaks with authority.

In response to the Health Protection Agency it gives the clear message:
"The Health Agency has sent 'Guidance on Circumcision of Boys' in consultation. The DSAM's [Board] of Directors has discussed the draft consultation and agree that circumcision may only be performed when there is a medical indication for it. If circumcision is performed without a medical indication, it is a case of mutilation."

Genital mutilation of girls was made illegal in Denmark in 2003. But baby boys can still legally be circumcised, an action that is done for religious reasons by Jews and Muslims.

It is estimated that between 1,000 and 2,000 baby boys are circumcised at home each year, and some of those for the sake of religion, in private.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Morten Frisch, MD PhD, is one of the most notable [op]ponents of circumcision. He has researched the topic and has, among other things. published an article in 2011, which aroused international attention. In the article he [went over] the many negative consequences, circumcision has or can have, not only physically but also psychologically.

Morten Frisch says to BT:
"It's earth-shattering that the practitioners now, for the first time, [have come] out and found at the outset that circumcision is the same as mutilation. This is a very important signal, and it may very well be the beginning of the end for boys' ritual circumcision in Denmark."

Master of Laws Hans Jørgen Lassen has through his specialty exposed that Denmark is moving on the edge of both the Danish law and international conventions by allowing circumcision. Together with Morten Frisch, he has - like DSAM - sent a consultation response to the health protection agency. The two write, inter alia:
"Circumcision of boys who cannot [demur] is a violation of their bodily and sexual integrity. There is no difference in principle between cutting the genitals of a little girl and a little boy. Both violate the child's right to decide over their own body. This was also the conclusion of the two resolutions in the autumn of 2013 from the Nordic Children's Ombudsmen and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Through an examination of Danish legislation in this area, which was the subject of Hans Jørgen Lassen's thesis at law school in 2013, it became clear that the legal basis for boys' circumcision without medical indication being able to take place with impunity in Denmark, is thin, almost non-existent."

It has not been possible to get a comment from DSAMs President Lars Gehlert Johansen.

COPENHAGEN: 7 out of 10 Danes support infant circumcision ban

20. januar 2014

Danskerne: Forbyd omskæring

Af Jens Anton Havskov
Syv ud af ti danskere vil have indført forbud mod omskæring af drengebørn. Fuldstændig som det siden 2003 har været ulovligt at omskære piger.

Det klare svar fremgår af en spørgeundersøgelse, som YouGov har udført for MetroXpress i juli 2013.

I undersøgelsen svarer 71 procent ja til, at der bliver indført forbud, mens 17 procent svarer nej. 12 procent ved ikke.

Målingen er lavet i kølvandet på, at sundhedsminister Astrid Krag (SF) slog fast, at regeringen ikke ønsker et forbud mod de omdiskuterede omskæringer, men i stedet lovede at øge tilsynet med dem.

Lena Nyhus, forkvinde for Intact Denmark, der kæmper for at få forbudt omskæring, sagde i forbindelse med undersøgelsen til MetroXpress, at svarene viser, politikerne er ude af trit med befolkningen og virkeligheden:
- Danmark er et land, som normalt går forrest, når det kommer til at beskytte børn. Nu må politikerne på Christiansborg komme med. Der må ikke skæres i piger, der må ikke skæres i hunde eller heste, men der må gerne skæres i drenge. Det strider jo mod enhver fornuft, når vi ved, at man fjerner 10.000-40.000 føleorganer fra penis, når man skærer forhuden af, sagde Lena Nyhus.

BT (Microsoft translation)
January 20, 2014

Danes: prohibit circumcision

by Jens Anton Havskov
Seven out of ten Danes want there to be a ban on the circumcision of baby boys, completing [the law] as it has since 2003 been illegal to circumcise girls.

The clear answer is shown by a survey carried out by YouGov for MetroXpress in July 2013.
In the study 71 percent [attach] Yes to [the question] that there will be a ban, while 17 percent match no. 12 percent do not [take a stand].

The measurement is made in the wake of that health minister Astrid Krag (SF) stated that the Government did not want a ban on the controversial circumcision, but instead promised to increase supervision of them.

Lena Nyhus, chairwoman of Intact Denmark, which is struggling to get circumcision banned, said in connection with the investigation to the MetroXpress, the answers show that politicians are out of touch with the people and reality:

"Denmark is a country which normally takes the lead when it comes to protecting children. Now, the politicians at Christiansborg [Parliament building] come with 'Do not cut into girls [and] don't cut into dogs or horses, but there boys may be cut into'. It is, after all, against all common sense, when we know that [you are] removing 10,000-40,000 sensory nerves from the penis when you cut the foreskin off," said Lena Nyhus.

JERUSALEM: Knesset to make pro-circumcision film

Jerusalem Post
January 20, 2014

Knesset producing film to fight anti-circumcision laws

by Lahav Harkov & Sam Sokol (with Herb Keinon)
The Knesset is producing a short pro-circumcision documentary, to be filmed this week and shown in a committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe next week.

On Monday, MK Nachman Shai (Labor) will represent Israel in the PACE Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, where he plans to screen the film.

German ex-MP Marlene Rupprecht, who pushed through a motion limiting ritual circumcision last year, invited four doctors to the committee. She also invited filmmaker Victor Schonfeld to present It’s a Boy, an anti-circumcision documentary he had produced.

“It’s a Boy is very bad for the Jewish tradition. Victor Schonfeld is a known anti-Zionist,” Shai said. [And the relevance of that is...] “We demand equal time for our views.”

Shai received approval from Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein on Monday to hire a production company that will interview experts on the topic of circumcision.

The seven- to eight-minute short will also feature Israeli doctors who traveled to Africa to circumcise men in an effort to fight AIDS.

“Maybe we’ll call our film ‘It’s a Circumcised Boy,’” Shai quipped.

The Knesset plans to reuse the film to explain the importance of not outlawing ritual circumcision during lawmakers’ visits to Europe and other places around the world.

Meanwhile, Thorbjørn Jagland, secretary-general of the Council of Europe, during a meeting with Muslim and Jewish clerics on Monday slammed the 2013 resolution by his organization’s legislative arm expressing opposition to ritual circumcision.

The council is a pan-European intergovernmental organization of 47 member states that is not affiliated with the European Union, and which cannot pass binding laws.

Speaking with a delegation of rabbis and imams that the New York based Foundation For Ethnic Understanding organized, Jagland asserted that “starting to limit the rights of minorities is a very dangerous avenue to pursue.

“Whenever we have limited their rights, it has always led to catastrophe,” he told the delegation, that included Said Aalla, the former imam of Strasbourg, where COE is headquartered, as well as René Gutman, the city’s chief rabbi.

FFEU president Rabbi Marc Schneier praised Jagland, and said he believed that the battle for ritual circumcision was “not an issue which affects only Jews or only Muslims, but truly hurts the traditions of a large percentage of the peoples of faith both here in Europe and around the world.”

“What the secretary-general basically said is that this is a moot discussion because they can discuss and debate and deliberate all that they want but there is no way that the Council of Europe is ever going to accept such a resolution or proclamation.

It is just not going to happen,” Schneier told the Post. “If we were to ban circumcision then Muslims and Jews would no longer be able to continue living in Europe.”

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution in October calling male ritual circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” and urging the organization’s member states to “initiate a public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards.”

Jewish organizations reacted harshly, with the leaders of some European communities deeming the measure to be deeply anti-Semitic. Israel and Turkey, both COE member states, issued denunciations. Israel has prepared a text for a counter-resolution, which it hopes to pass through PACE.

This is not the first time that the COE secretary-general has denounced the PACE resolution. In November, Jagland told a gathering of European rabbis in Berlin that “in no way does the Council of Europe want to ban the practice of male circumcision.”

“Female genital mutilation violates human rights. Male circumcision does not. That is my position. That is the position of the Council of Europe,” he said.

While the PACE resolution has no legal standing, such resolutions exert a powerful moral influence in Europe, and the secretary-general’s statements asserting the body’s opposition to the concepts embodied in the resolution can be seen as an effort to change the prevailing discourse surrounding circumcision.

European Jewish activists believe that Jagland’s statements are part of a battle to set the moral agenda in Europe on issues of religious freedom, and that the resolution, non-binding as it is, was the opening salvo of an effort to turn local initiatives against circumcision into a continent-wide moral crusade against the practice.

Speaking with The Jerusalem Post on Monday, Conference of European Rabbis chief Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt expressed his concern that PACE “has not yet rescinded its position against circumcision,” but expressed hope that during next week’s debate “the members of PACE will reflect on their infringement of religious freedom, which is a fundamental value of the Council.”

Maren Lambrecht, a COE official, confirmed to the Post that it is procedurally impossible to cancel a previously passed resolution, but indicated that a special panel will examine the topic next week and that several medical experts and religious leaders will attend and present their views on the matter. While there will not be a formal decision taken at the end of this meeting, she said, the discussion is necessary due to the “harsh international debate” engendered by the 2013 resolution, among other reasons.

“What it could lead to is that some of the people who might be interested in preparing a new text would listen to some of the debates next week, and maybe this could influence what they are going to write in a new report,” Lambrecht said.

Despite news reports, she said, “there will not be a discussion at this meeting on the [Israeli] counterproposal” during the session.

VANCOUVER: Pantsless presentation on foreskin function

The Ubyssey
January 19, 2014

Foreskin advocate speaks at UBC's Buchanan building

by Richard Sterndale-Bennett
It’s a rare thing to meet an activist who manages to remain persuasive and credible when naked from the waist down.

Judging by the audience’s reaction to children’s rights activist Glen Callender’s presentation at UBC on Friday, he pulled it off.

The talk, hosted by UBC Freethinkers in the Buchanan building, was part of a larger effort founded by Callender, the Canadian Foreskin Awareness Project, or CAN-FAP. Its purpose is to advocate for the right of male, female and intersex children to grow up with intact genitals.

Along with videos of real circumcisions on infant boys, the talk — described on the event’s Facebook page as an “X-rated sex-ed-comedy-horror show” — included footage of the presenter masturbating and video from a live show where he counted how many grapes he could fit in his foreskin — 11.

“That’s one of the reasons I get in the news and why things happen,” said Callender. “It’s because I’m difficult to ignore, and I do things that are controversial. And that’s my niche — and I’m not claiming to be, you know, the right guy for everybody, maybe not even most people.”

The show serves as a lighter entry point into what for many is a difficult and deeply personal issue.
CAN-FAP’s primary objective is the legal protection of a child’s right to choose whether or not to be circumcised. Callender said that female circumcision is particularly harmful because one can’t cut off as much of a boy’s genitals without restricting his ability to reproduce later in life.

“We use the term ‘female genital mutilation’ to talk about what people do to girls,” Callender said. “Circumcision is what we do to our children with their best interests in mind. Mutilation is what other people do to their children with bad intentions.” Callender thinks this is a double standard — a claim not without its critics.

In recent years, circumcision has been performed as a preventive health measure. For example, research conducted in South Africa published in 2005 and trials in Uganda and Kenya published in 2007 suggested that circumcision could reduce rates of female-to-male HIV transmission from heterosexual sex by approximately 60 per cent. This led to the World Health Organization’s 2007 endorsement of circumcision as a legitimate public health measure in parts of Africa. Callender, however, argued that the African studies were biased and methodologically flawed.

He also said that circumcision, when conducted on a child, permanently changes a man’s physiological capacity for sensation without his consent.

“There is a 2000-year body of Jewish writing and a 200-year body of medical writing that openly acknowledges that a primary purpose of infant circumcision is to permanently damage the penis so the boy, and the man he becomes, will never be able to fully enjoy sex,” said Callender.

Callender’s next presentation will be at the Taboo Naughty but Nice Sex Show in Vancouver.

COPENHAGEN: Doctors' body condemns non-therapeutic circumcision

DSAM (Dansk Selskab for Almen Medicin)
20. december 2013

Kommentar til vejledning om omskæring af drenge

Sundhedsstyrelsen har sendt 'Vejledning om omskæring af drenge' i høring'. DSAM's bestyrelse har drøftet høringsudkastet og er enige om, at der kun må udføres omskæring, når der foreligger medicinsk indikation. Hvis der udføres omskæring uden medicinsk indikation, er der tale om lemlæstelse.
Høringsfristen er den 21. januar 2014.
Danish Association for General Medicine
20 December 2013

Note for guidance on circumcision of boys

The Health Agency has sent its out consultation document 'Guidance on circumcision of boys'. The DSAM's Board of Directors has discussed the consultation draft and agree that circumcision may only be performed when there is medical indication for it. If circumcision is performed without a medical indication, it is mutilation.

Consultation deadline is January 21, 2014.

NEW YORK: Mtzitzah: Mayor will keep consent form for now

New York Daily News
January 17, 2014

Rewind: Regulating Mezitzah B'Peh In NYC

by Celeste Katz
Mayor de Blasio will continue many of his predecessor's public health initiatives -- including requiring parental consent forms for mezitzah b'peh, he and his new health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, said Thursday.

["A Satmar faction announced during the mayoral election that de Blasio had promised to remove the requirement in exchange for their votes – a claim de Blasio later said was false, even though it was made in English on a public address system in front of hundreds of hasidim by a leader of that Satmar faction who was standing only five feet from de Blasio when he made it." - Shmarya Rosenberg •]

Bassett said "there have been some 13 infant deaths in the past decade related to risks associated with exposure to a practitioner who transmits herpes" during the circumcision ritual, which is observed by some Orthodox Jews and involves a mohel removing blood from the baby boy's wound by mouth.

The city is not outlawing mezitzah b'peh, Bassett said, but "we have to ensure that people understand the purpose of these regulations [and] do a better job of listening to their concerns about them."

De Blasio emphasized, "I've said we'll keep it in place while searching for a solution that we think is more effective... There hasn't been the kind of dialogue necessary to get to common ground." While the city can communicate better with those who want to continue the religious observance, he said, "our job is to protect children."

Earlier story

BERLIN: Circumcised men support Council of Europe resolution

Mogis e.V
January 16, 2014

PACE: Open Letter regarding Motion for Resolution | Doc. 13364

Dear Members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe!

We address you as representatives of men who have been negatively affected by foreskin amputation in childhood.

On January 27th you will be deciding whether to further discuss a resolution that seems to be intended as a reaction to your earlier resolution 1952 “Children’s rights to bodily integrity”, accepted on Oct 1st, 2013. The passed resolution argued, amongst other issues, for recognition of “circumcision” of boys to be assessed as a violation of the child’s right to bodily integrity. It also urged the member states to define medical minimum standards for “circumcisions” and called for a discussion about legal solutions that make the affected’s ability to consent a prerequisite for such surgery.

PACE Resolution 1952/2013 was developed over the course of 15 months, and it appears that a plan may be in the works to toss it out it with haste, under a considerable amount of outside pressure.

First and foremost, it needs to be stated that foreskin amputation is a surgical procedure, in which a functional body part is irreversibly removed. This carries with it the compelling loss of numerous functions and has life-long consequences; not to mention the risks involved in the surgery itself, which also depend on the circumstances of the operation as well as on the person performing it. Therefore, the discussion of legal regulation must be engaged primarily from a human- and children’s-rights point of view, supported with evidence- and observation-based medical expertise.
The new resolution presented to you states that “Claims that circumcision harms the health and body of young boys do not rest on scientific evidence.” This astonishing claim is refuted by declarations from all European paediatric organizations, the latest being the paper authored by 38 prominent paediatricians from 16 countries in March 2013: \url{} .

It comes to the following conclusion: “There is growing consensus among physicians, including those in the United States, that physicians should discourage parents from circumcising their healthy infant boys because nontherapeutic circumcision of underage boys in Western societies has no compelling health benefits, causes postoperative pain, can have serious long-term consequences, constitutes a violation of the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, and conflicts with the Hippocratic oath: primum non nocere: First, do no harm.”

We, the negatively affected, know the described consequences first-hand. At the age at which a foreskin-amputation typically is performed, no boy can be properly educated about the possible life-long consequences of the removal of an average of 50% of the penile skin and up to 70% of its erogenous tissue, since these only come into effect at an age of sexual maturity.

These consequences include: – the destruction of the natural physiology of the penis, consisting of inner and outer tissue: the highly sensitive inner tissue is largely removed (foreskin) along with much of the outer skin, whilst the distal remainder (glans) is now bereft of is natural protection and left to dry out, which in the long-term invariably causes keratinization of the mucosa and thereby desensitizes the glans. – loss of the natural gliding mechanism of the penile skin, unique to the penis, which reduces comfort in intercourse and can lead to pain for the partner due to increased friction. – drastic loss of sexual sensitivity: the foreskin comprises far more nerve endings then the glans, as well as highly sensitive tactile corpuscles that the glans lacks. – painless masturbation is often impossible without additives (there are already lubricating creams, gels and oils for circumcised penises being marketed).

Additionally, we experience several psychological long-term effects, such as perceived loss of control over our own body, inferiority complexes, inability to engage in relationships, avoidance of sexual relations, shame and depression over having been genitally altered.

With these possible consequences, we, the negatively affected, are left completely alone in adulthood. In statistics that show complications, only those cases are included that have a temporally immediate connection to the surgery – the effects later in life, however, are not recorded. Due to a lack of awareness for the problems, many affected men do not even realize the cause of their suffering – not to mention the lack of qualified medical and psychological assistance.

Considering the wide range of possible risks and later effects of foreskin amputation mentioned here, the decision about this kind of surgery has to be the exclusive right of the affected person, who must bear said consequences for the rest of his life. This implies a consent requirement of age of maturity, including thorough education about the risks and consequences.

We know that you, the members of the Assembly, are bound only to your own conscience. We appeal to your responsibility toward the protection of society’s weakest members – who cannot defend or organize themselves. Please muster the courage to proceed as do the prestigious European paediatric organizations, the child ombudspersons of the Nordic countries and many women’s- and human-rights groups:
Judge and decide from the perspective of the child – it is about his body and his right to live with the entire body he was born with.

Earlier, it was announced that Ronald Goldman, Executive Director of the Boston-based Circumcision Resource Center, has been invited to participate in an interdisciplinary dialogue about circumcision in France on January 28.

Earlier story

Monday, January 13, 2014

EASTERN CAPE: Doctor blows whistle on botched circumcisions

Shooting the messenger...

Dispatch Online (South Africa)
January 11, 2014

Outrage over graphic circumcision website

by Bongani Fuzile and Zwanga Mukuthu
A WEBSITE set up by a controversial Dutch doctor showing graphic images of mutilated and infected penises of Eastern Cape initiates has caused outrage among traditional leaders in the province.

Dr Dingeman Rijken, a former employee of the Eastern Cape department of health, said he set the website up “for the world to see”.

Rijken said this was a last-ditch effort to show traditional leaders and local communities that initiation was not just a ritual, but in many cases resulted in genital mutilation that had led to the death of hundreds of young boys, while thousands have had their penises amputated or disfigured.

Rijken said he had on numerous occasions requested that initiates undergo medical circumcision but “weak” traditional leaders had shown no interest.

Instead, circumcision was being carried out by traditional surgeons who were sometimes incompetent or did not use sterilised equipment.

Speaking to the Saturday Dispatch this week and referring to traditional leaders, Rijken said the “self-proclaimed custodians of the ritual” called numerous meetings to discuss the death of initiates but there were never any solutions.

“Why do we sustain a ritual that slaughters boys in their prime or physically and mentally scars many others for life?” he asked.

“Many have lost their manhood while hundreds have suffered penile amputation. These deaths were avoidable. If the weak traditional leaders continue to do this, many innocent lives will be lost. These leaders need to wake up,” he said.

But the doctor’s website has come in for criticism from several quarters and he has been accused of exposing a sacred initiation custom to the world.

Over 200 graphic images on the website show close-ups of penises infected with gangrene and skin-loss while others show botched circumcisions. [NSFW - disturbing]

Rijken said he had permission to publish the pictures from the initiates concerned. “I took those pictures because I was given consent by those involved, including the initiates themselves,” he said.

But Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders deputy chairman Prince Zolile Burns-Ncamashe said it was “disgusting” that a foreign national could “undermine” the country’s customs. [Disgusting customs need to be undermined.]

“If I had the power I would send officials to arrest this doctor immediately,” Burns-Ncamashe said.

Nkululeko Nxesi of the Community Development Foundation of South Africa, an NGO that runs initiation rescue centres, said the website was an embarrassment to the AmaXhosa nation. [It certainly is, but not in the way they want to think.]

“This [the website] will undermine the work that is being done by traditional leaders and government and us,” Nxesi said. “He [Rijken] should respect the cultural principles and processes of this nation. This embarrassing thing he has done assumes that there is nothing being done to curb this.”

Rijken is no stranger to controversy. He worked at Flagstaff’s Holy Cross Hospital and last year released a training manual to assist in the ritual. However, it was not well received as it carried a picture of an initiate being circumcised.

Rijken said that from 1995 until now, 819 boys had lost their lives undergoing the rite, while thousands had been left mutilated.

On the website he said many of the initiates huts are built in secluded locations and centralised initiation schools were needed.

Health department spokesman, Sizwe Kupelo said the department had distanced itself from Rijken, as he was a former employee.

Kupelo said it was suspected that the pictures may have been taken at a time when Rijken was in the department’s employ. “The department will investigate and may report the doctor to the Health Professions Council [of SA] if he is found to have violated the patients’ rights by publishing the pictures,” Kupelo said.

Rijken is due to leave for Malawi, where he will start work at a local hospital, within a few weeks.
He said boys would continue to die unless medically trained personnel carried out circumcisions. [Or genital cutting stopped.]

The website – – contains graphic images.

Earlier story

EASTERN CAPE: Archbishop Tutu condemns botched circumcisons
January 9, 2014

End circumcision deaths - Tutu

by Siyabulela Dzanibe and Liam Joyce
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has called for urgent intervention to halt the “annual mutilation and death” of young men undergoing traditional circumcision.

Tutu said health and culture authorities needed to work together to protect traditional practices while avoiding “what some in Pondoland describe as ‘male genital mutilation’”.

“My plea is for all stakeholders - and, in particular, the House of Traditional Leaders and the Department of Health - to draw on the skills of qualified medical practitioners to enhance our traditional circumcision practices,” he said on Tuesday.

A total 38 young men died during the end-of-year initiation period in Pondoland, which ends this week.

John Carpay, who started the website to provide information about the “dark secrets” of the ritual, said the seasonal deaths and mutilations had become predictable.

The boys’ deaths ”in abominable conditions” were “totally avoidable”.

“Why do we sustain a ritual that slaughters boys in the prime of their age, and physically and mentally scars many others for life,” Carpay asked.

While the Eastern Cape Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs has called for a meeting with Mpondo chiefs over the matter, its KwaZulu-Natal counterpart was celebrating a successful initiation ceremony on Tuesday.

Lenox Mabaso, spokesman for the department in KwaZulu-Natal, said that, as the country reeled from the deaths of young men who had become victims of traditional circumcisions that went wrong in Mpumalanga, KZN had managed a successful ceremony.

The spokesman for the Eastern Cape Department of Health and the Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, said yesterday the two bodies had received proposals from various people promising a solution to halt the deaths of initiates in Pondoland.

Sicwetsha said families were ultimately responsible for the initiation of their sons, but the House of Traditional Leaders had distributed material about the initiation preparation.

“We think this is sufficient… The province harbours no ambitions to instruct people what type of initiation they should undergo or take their children through,” he said.

Earlier story

MONTREAL: Group wants circumcison age-restricted in Quebec

CTV News
January 9, 2014

Stop Circumcision Quebec wants more restrictions

Parliamentary hearings on the Charter of Quebec Values begin next week, but many groups are making their positions public now.

...A third group, Stop Circumcision Quebec, said the Charter of Values should do more than just ban the wearing of religious symbols by government employees and contractors: it wants the government to ban [No, age-restrict] circumcision.

The organization says circumcision is a religious rite that mutilates children, and should not be tolerated in a modern society.

Several countries have debate whether circumcision of males should be prohibited by law, but all countries allow i[t], and some have passed legislation explicitly allowing it for religious reasons.

Government hearings on Bill 60 begin Tuesday Jan. 14 in Quebec City.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

ISRAEL: "Psychological damage" from not being circumcised - rabbi

New levels of sophistry here!

January 9, 2014

Rabbis to court: Uncircumcised boy will suffer 'serious psychological damage'

by Yair Ettinger
The legal adviser to the rabbinical court submitted Thursday its ruling on the appeal by a mother who is opposed to having her son circumcised. “On the altar of the petitioner’s right to freedom of religion, she is suggesting that she will ignore the irreversible psychological damage that is liable to be caused to the child due to his being an exception in the society of the children around him - and that must not be done!” the ruling stated.

The adviser, attorney Rabbi Shimon Yaakobi, is asking the High Court of Justice to reject the petition of the mother - who petitioned the High Court after the rabbinical court ordered her to pay 500 shekels a day ($143) until she agrees to have her son circumcised - and to cancel the interim injunction postponing the implementation of the Supreme Rabbinical Court ruling.

The baby’s parents are in the midst of divorce proceedings, and disagree on performing the circumcision. The rabbinical court accepted the husband’s viewpoint and ruled that the baby must be circumcised by a doctor in a hospital. But three weeks ago the High Court issued an interim injunction postponing implementation of the ruling.

Yaakobi replied to the petition on behalf of the rabbinical courts, and is basing his position on a case from 1998 in which the High Court rejected a petition filed against the health minister by the Ben Shalem association, which lobbies against circumcision. The High Court rejected the petition in a brief ruling, but Yaakobi cites at length from the reply of the state, which says, among other things, that “the point of view is that the welfare of the child requires performing a circumcision, both for religious reasons and due to the social perspective and the social consensus regarding the essence of circumcision.”

Yaakobi also quotes from another High Court decision several years earlier, which addressed whether a Jewish woman who had joined a messianic Christian group could raise her children in that spirit, contrary to the opinion of her husband, from whom she was getting divorced. According to Yaakobi, High Court President Meir Shamgar distinguished between “physical custody,” which would be given to the mother, and “spiritual custody,” which would remain with the Jewish father.

“Differences of opinion between parents on matters of their world view, including their religious world view, do not meant that the dispute is not justiciable, as the petitioner suggests - neither in terms of the welfare of the child nor in terms of the child’s rights,” wrote Yaakobi. “Children have a right not to have their religion changed without their knowledge. Since they are still incapable of forming an opinion, it is the role of the state to protect their right not to have their religion changed, and to protect them from attempts of this kind. This above-mentioned role of the state is reinforced when it comes to a family in crisis, in other words, when the parents are not of the same opinion. In that case, the children were born and brought up as Jews. In their family and their natural environment they are surrounded by Jews. The children did not express any desire to join the mother’s sect.”

So they admit that children have rights. The rabbis seem to think that children are born with religion but no knowledge or opinions. Strange.

Yaakobi also supports his reply with a survey cited on the Ynet website in 2007, according to which 97 percent of Jews in Israel will circumcise their sons. [So this one can be like the 3% who aren't.]
“The minor child who is the object of this affair was born to a normal Jewish-Israeli family,” he wrote. “In their natural surroundings the couple and their children are surrounded by Jews who perform circumcisions on their sons. In a year or two the minor will attend a nursery school where he will be surrounded by children who were circumcised, and it is no secret that toddlers are capable of noticing anything unusual, and enough said.

“The petitioner, who wants her young toddler to experience a feeling of superfluous exceptionalism that is liable to lead to feelings of inferiority and a serious psychological harm, is not doing the right thing. The petitioner does not have the good of the child at heart. The child has a right not to be different from his friends who were circumcised. The good of the child and his right to be circumcised like every Jewish child in Israel cannot be a sacrifice - in contradiction of the wishes of the child’s father - on the altar of the petitioner’s right to freedom from religion.” [No mention of the child's freedom of and from religion.]

EASTERN CAPE: Diet a factor in circumcison deaths

ENCA (South Africa)
January 8, 2014

Diet a factor in initiation school deaths

BHISHO - More than 500 boys have died at initiation schools in the Eastern Cape since 2006.
The Provincial Health Department says mainly due to dehydration and hypotension. [low blood pressure]

It says poor diet in the days following the circumcision also played a factor.

The first seven days after a boy has been circumcised are the most crucial, intense care and caution is needed as this could mean life or death.

The elders say the initiates have to follow a strict and special diet during umaluko (initiation).

Since the start of December, 35 boys have died in initiation schools in the Eastern Cape.

Earlier story

SOUTH AFRICA: Corruption investigation in mass-circumcision contract

City Press (South Africa)
January 7, 2014

Mpumalanga investigates multimillion-rand circumcision contract

The Mpumalanga health department is investigating a multimillion-rand contract awarded to a company as part of the province’s Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision programme.

This follows an investigation by Corruption Watch that found that Mkhago Health Care Services was given a one-year contract to conduct 260 000 circumcisions at a cost of R182 million [$US16.9 million], R700 [$US65] a person, a Sapa correspondent reported. The contract was not put out to tender.

[A corresponded calculates that it would take more than three operating theatres each in more than twenty hospitals, employing more than at least 60-90 urologists, anaesthetists and 120 theatre nurses, working full time, to complete the contract in the specified time.]

“We have joined forces with the integrity management unit in the office of the premier to strengthen and fast-track the investigation,” provincial health spokesman Ronnie Masilela said.

Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi instructed the provincial health department to inform him how the contract was awarded.

Masilela said the department had promised to conclude its investigation into the matter by November 30 last year.

“The matter has since proven to be a little complex and required an extension of time to continue with other parts of the investigation.

“It is against this background that we request to comment no further on this very matter until the investigations are concluded, which we believe will be soon,” Masilela said.

He said the contract remained suspended, and stressed that the investigation did not affect the province’s circumcision programme.

The department had five other service providers conducting circumcisions, all of which were nongovernmental organisations that had been sponsored to carry out the procedures.

Mkhago Health Care Services is a private company belonging to Dr Ebby Mkhabela.

The department previously defended the Mkhago circumcision contract, saying it was based on Mkhabela’s experience and qualifications.

However, the department is facing a R10.7 million lawsuit relating to a circumcision that went wrong at Barberton Hospital in 2008. Mkhabela was the lead doctor during the circumcision procedure on a young boy, who is now nine.

The boy lost the tip of his penis in the operation. The matter is still in court.

PITTSBURGH: Rabbi denies botching circumcison

TribLive news
January 6, 2014

Squirrel Hill rabbi denies botching circumcision

by Adam Brandolph
A Squirrel Hill rabbi denies botching a ritual circumcision that a lawsuit says caused a “catastrophic and life-changing injury” to an 8-day-old boy.

Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, 54, admits in court documents filed Monday that the boy was injured on April 28, but said he's not to blame. The boy is identified only by his initials in the lawsuit his parents filed last month in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.

“Rabbi Rosenberg performed the Bris Milah in a careful and competent fashion, with the care and skill normally exercised by Mohels under the same or similar circumstances” and “denies that he is liable to plaintiff,” the response to the lawsuit says.

A Bris Milah is a ritualistic Jewish circumcision. A mohel is the person who performs the rite.
Attorneys for both sides could not be reached.

The lawsuit does not specify the child's injuries. It says his parents rushed him to Children's Hospital for emergency reconstructive surgery and leech therapy. Leeches help a body accept reattached parts by promoting blood flow and tissue regeneration.

Earlier story

MONTREAL: 80-botch-compallint doctor still booking circumcisions

The Gazette (Montreal)
January 6, 2014

Doctor barred from performing circumcisions still booking appointments

by Aaron Derfel
MONTREAL - A Montreal family doctor who has been barred temporarily from performing circumcisions is still allowing parents to book the procedure for their infant boys at his downtown clinic, The Gazette has learned.

On Dec. 24, the Quebec College of Physicians’ disciplinary tribunal restricted the medical licence of Dr. Raymond Rezaie pending a final ruling on his case in the coming months. Rezaie, 51, who obtained his medical degree in the Dominican Republic in 1992, is accused of botching dozens of circumcisions on baby boys since 2010. Many of the infants have had to undergo corrective surgery.

Although Rezaie is presumed to be innocent of the disciplinary charges against him, the tribunal nonetheless took the extraordinary step of barring him from carrying out circumcisions until a final ruling is rendered, given that he had referred 87 patients to Ste-Justine Hospital following medical complications.

Despite the restriction on his licence, two parents who contacted his clinic since Dec. 24 were advised that he is still performing circumcisions, said a West Island physician who spoke on condition that his name not be published for fear of professional reprisals.

“This is not right,” the physician said. “When the parents found out he can’t do the circumcisions, they were very upset.”

A Gazette reporter seeking to schedule an appointment for an infant circumcision contacted Rezaie’s Clinique Médicale Alpha on Guy St. on Monday. The receptionist who answered the phone did not disclose that Rezaie’s medical licence is restricted or that he is not carrying out circumcisions at the moment, but said he was fully booked for a number of weeks.

The receptionist then asked for the age of the infant.

“What I can do is put you on the waiting list, and like this, maybe in one month or two months he will call you,” Rezaie’s receptionist said. “Is that okay for you?”

The Quebec College of Physicians is now investigating whether Rezaie might have violated the terms of his restricted licence, a spokesperson said.

“If he is giving appointments in a month’s time, this is very surprising because his licence will stay restricted for several months” until the outcome of his case, said Leslie Labranche.

She added that it is also Rezaie’s obligation to inform all the employees at his clinic, including his receptionist, of the fact that his medical licence has been restricted.

“One can’t say it’s the fault of the receptionist or that someone wasn’t aware of the restriction,” Labranche explained. “It’s very much the responsibility of the physician to inform everyone in his clinic of the limits of his practice.”

Another receptionist who answered Rezaie’s phone at his clinic Monday afternoon hung up on a reporter who asked to speak to him. Rezaie was unavailable for comment at his Côte-St-Luc home.

In his initial defence before the disciplinary board, Rezaie’s lawyer noted that he had performed a total of 6,000 circumcisions in his career after training for 40 hours under the supervision of a physician in British Columbia.

However, the disciplinary tribunal ruled that “80 cases (of botched circumcisions) is a staggering number that cannot be dismissed out of hand.”

Friday, January 3, 2014

SYDNEY: Man charged over baby girl's overseas genital cutting

The Sydney Morning Herald
January 2, 2014

Father charged over alleged genital mutilation of infant daughter

by Megan Levy
A Sydney father has been charged by police over the alleged genital mutilation of his infant daughter while they were holidaying overseas.

Police said the man and his family were on a holiday in February 2012 when the father allegedly organised for his nine-month-old daughter to undergo a procedure known as female circumcision.

About six months later, the child's mother took her daughter to a doctor for treatment, and the NSW Police Child Abuse Squad was alerted.

Following investigations, police arrested the girl's father on Tuesday.

He was charged with aid/abet/counsel or procure female genital mutilation, and was granted conditional bail. He will appear in Manly Local Court on January 28.

Police would not say in which country the family was holidaying at the time of the alleged incident.
[Why not? Who are they protecting by doing that? ]

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

PITTSBURGH: Mohel's botch spurs Jewish re-think

December 30, 2013

Some Call For End To Religious Circumcisions After Baby Injured During Bris

by Marty Griffin
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – There’s strong reaction after a KD Investigation.

KDKA reported on a baby boy, who was seriously injured during a religious circumcision ceremony at a local synagogue.

Now, a growing number of Jews in our area and across the country, are questioning whether the ceremony is even necessary, given the risks.

The incident involving an 8-day-old baby boy, detailed in a recent lawsuit, happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill.

The Jewish circumcision ceremony was performed by Pittsburgh Rabbi Mordechai Rosenberg, who is also a mohel.

Sometime during the bris, Rosenberg severed the baby boy’s penis.

The boy was rushed to Children’s Hospital, where doctors performed eight hours of microsurgery, described as successful.

“So, yes,” said Dr. Mark [R]eiss, “one-hundred percent complication rate.”

[This quotation is taken right out of its 2009 context.]

[R]eis[s] is among a small, but growing number of Jewish leaders who, because of complications, believe circumcision for Jewish boys is not necessary. And he claims it’s dangerous.

“There’s no question,” he said. “There is death from circumcision every year. And in the African countries, where medicine is much more primitive, the death rate is much higher.”

Locally, a growing number of Jews want to take a closer look at circumcision, even getting a non-cutting ceremony.

“It’s the fundamental right of a child to keep his healthy body parts,” said Greg Hartley with Intact America.

The group believes that circumcision should be illegal.

“We live in a circumcision culture,” Hartley said. “It’s assumed to be an automatic part of birth. But it’s not. Most of the world doesn’t do this.”

Rabbi Rosenberg did not wish to speak on camera, but did talk to KDKA’s Marty Griffin. He called the incident a “tragic incident” and a “horrible situation,” but he also says he’s trained to do this and continues to perform the procedure.

Earlier story

EASTERN CAPE: 1000 circumcision deaths in 10 years

SABC (South Africa)
December 27, 2013

Burnt initiates taken to hospital

Three initiates who were burnt at an initiation school in Matatiele in the Eastern Cape have been taken to hospital. They were burnt after their makeshift hut caught fire.

Health Department spokesperson, Sizwe Kupelo, says an ambulance was dispatched after reports of a fire at the initiation school.

However, earlier reports indicated that when the ambulance arrived at the school, the initiates' handler refused to release them into the care of the medics.


Meanwhile, a 21-year-old traditional nurse has been arrested for allegedly beating up initiates in Lusikisiki in the Eastern Cape.


Police report that 30 people have died so far in the Eastern Cape after botched circumcisions.

The deaths have sparked a premature closure of Eastern Cape summer circumcision season. They are expected to be closed mid-January due to the continuous mushrooming of illegal initiation schools.

The Eastern Pondoland area of the Eastern Cape is notorious for its bogus circumcision schools. In the past 10 years, about 1 000 boys have died in the province and many others have lost their private parts.

Earlier story