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Would you vote on ban infant male circumcision?

(305 Posts)
Charlocornell Sun 01-Nov-15 20:27:45

There is a petition launched today:

Here's the article I wrote as well. Comments are most welcome from the Mumsnet Community.

Right: let’s stop pretending a double standard doesn’t exist. A girl’s genitals are no more sacrosanct than those of the world’s men. Bodies are born, made as they were made to be made: there is no place in the modern world for doctor, state or faith to interfere. I’m going to state this very simply: it is time to ban all male circumcision, (unless for medical reasons) for all under 18s. I contend that the British parliament should debate this issue. Please read the article and sign this petition if you agree.

At the moment our girls are protected thanks to the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003. Whilst prosecutions using these laws have been worryingly few, British attitudes towards Female Circumcision (now always referred to using the non-hyperbolic term ‘Mutilation’) have vastly shifted.

Right now, a few people are gasping into their coffees. How can we discuss regulating male circumcision? ‘Surely that’s anti-semitic’ or ‘oh no, another example of pernicious Islamaphobia seeping into our society’, they say’ (it is too easily to pull these Get Out of Jail Free Cards). ‘Absolutely not’, I will counter: this is progress; this is protection for our babies and, finally, this is long overdue. My father’s Jewish family agree.

We wouldn’t be the first European country to debate banning the practice. The Danish parliament have recently debated the banning of the practice. There have also been attempts to criminalise the act in San Francisco, Iceland and other Nordic regions.

In 2013 the Swedish Medical Association also recommended 12 as a minimum age for male circumcision and requiring a boy’s consent; this recommendation was unanimously passed by the Association’s ethics council and was supported by the 85% of Swedish G.Ps that are members of said council. Furthermore, the Danish College of G.Ps issued a statement that ritual circumcision of boys ‘was tantamount to abuse and mutilation’ (trans.) and a regional court in Cologne, Germany ruled in June 2012 that ‘male circumcision performed as a ritual conflicts with the child’s best interests as the parents’ right to religious upbringing of their children, when weighed against the child’s right to physical integrity and self- determination, has no priority.’ The Child Rights International Network agrees: ‘it is time we started debating the issue from a civil-rights stance’. The Human Rights Council also states it simply enough: each child has a right to determine his or her own future. Parents may direct not determine a child’s choices in life. Circumcision is irrevocable; it is clear determination on the part of the parents, not simply the lighter touch of religious or cultural ‘direction’.

Columnist Tanya Gold was outraged in October 2013 when the Council of Europe passed a resolution called ‘The Child’s Rights to Physical Integrity’ . She writes: ‘For Jews, circumcision, which is performed at eight days (if the child is healthy), is the covenant with God, and the single most significant ritual in Judaism: “My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people.” It is almost the only ritual that both progressive and ultra-Orthodox Jews, so often at each others’ throats as to who is the most righteous kind of Jew, agree on; even progressives who embrace marriage to non-Jews, gay marriage and female elevation to the rabbinate insist on it.’

She has a point. She claims that some members of the Jewish community will leave any country which passed laws banning circumcision outright. This would be wrong; no-one should be press-ganged from anywhere because of what they believe. But babies don’t believe in anything yet (remember it is parents’ role to direct not determine). There is more of a need for state institutions and legislature to protect the bodies of the vulnerable than ever before. Why not a ‘symbolic, non-surgical ritual’ at 8 days instead (as suggested by Norway’s Ombudsman for Children) and then when they reach adulthood; Jewish men can affirm the covenant their parents suggested for them and can elect to have the procedure themselves? Times do change: of the 613 mitzvot, (248 do’s, and 365 don’ts) prescribed in the Torah, only 369 are still operative.

Another journalist, Neil Lyndon writing in The Telegraph in July 2014 asserted that male ritual genital mutilation is ‘the barbarity that can never be named as such.’ His article entitled ‘It’s time for a proper debate on circumcision’ attracted over 600 comments from readers, including one man who, having been circumcised as a baby himself, was persuaded not to circumcise his own sons. Who persuaded him not to? His own mother.

Then, the medical argument. Bear in mind that most studies eschewing positive medical grounds for universal circumcision come from countries where the majority are already circumcised. Whilst around 78% of the world’s men are intact, over 98% of studies claiming ‘positive medical grounds’ for circumcision come from countries where the vast majority of men are circumcised. To those who claim HIV and other STIs are less easily transmitted by a cut male, it is interesting to note that the U.S has much higher rates of HIV transmission than Europe; in the U.S 55% of men are circumcised (although this rate is falling each year) and in Europe only around 11% are. The idea of cutting as protection is outmoded; just wear a condom. The STI debate is also slightly erroneous as ground for not banning the cutting of children; babies and children are not sexually active. Hopefully parents also wash their children and teach them to maintain good genital hygiene. In modern Britain, we bathe our children regularly; these are not the Middle Ages where baths were a suspicious luxury. We can prevent 99% of infections just by doing what we now do everyday.

Furthermore, plenty of psychological studies have begun to examine the impact of early circumcision on the developing brain. A Psychology Today article published in January 2015 affirms that: ‘Although some believe that babies “won’t remember” the pain, we now know that the body “remembers” as evidenced by studies which demonstrate that circumcised infants are more sensitive to pain later in life (Taddio et al., 1997). Research carried out using neonatal animals as a proxy to study the effects of pain on infants’ psychological development have found distinct behavioral patterns characterized by increased anxiety, altered pain sensitivity, hyperactivity, and attention problems (Anand & Scalzo, 2000).’ Even where pain relief is used, there are plenty of psychological consequences for boys including the body shaming notion that their bodies (as per design) were not ‘fit’ for purpose or a study from 1999 that proved that a majority of circumcised men conceptualized their circumcision experience as an act of violence, mutilation, or sexual assault.

The debate rages; of course it does. From excellent articles in America to very thorough research from The University of Oxford on the matter everyone wants to think about it. Well, let the debate rage here in Britain, I say and I repeat: I contend that the British parliament should debate this issue. Please sign here if you agree:

Helenluvsrob Sun 01-Nov-15 20:54:22

Probably not, though I disagree strongly with itIt's actually a huge thing and would simply go underground at the moment, making it less safe than it is for those tiny boys. We need a subtler slow paced change over generations - and probably it needs to start in America and places that do it to be " like his daddy" grr!

TiggyD Sun 01-Nov-15 21:05:37

If the person can't give informed consent to having part of their body cut off, it should be illegal.

Benedictinemonk Sun 01-Nov-15 21:07:37

Genital mutilation, of either boys or girls, is a barbaric practice and should be banned.

Palomb Sun 01-Nov-15 21:09:29

Yes I would. It is mutiliation and is abuse.

VeganCanBeFabulous Sun 01-Nov-15 21:15:09

Absolutely. It is barbaric and an absolute double standard.

Paperblank Sun 01-Nov-15 21:16:15

If the person can't give informed consent to having part of their body cut off, it should be illegal


Branleuse Sun 01-Nov-15 21:17:32

Well its hardly ever done in the UK except for religious reasons, so considering the majority of mumsnet are naice white middle class women of no particular religion its very easy way of subtly bashing other cultures, and did I REALLY see that youve compared it to FGM?.

I dont much like the idea of circumcision, but come on. People arent castrating their baby sons. If they were, then you could compare it to FGM.

hiddenhome2 Sun 01-Nov-15 21:20:29

It's disgusting and barbaric. Children who have had this done should be able to sue their parents for every penny they have.

Fairylea Sun 01-Nov-15 21:20:41

I signed the petition. Of course it should be made illegal. We can't not make things illegal just because it might push them underground - that could apply to so many things. We have a duty to say that this isn't acceptable.

FunkyPeacock Sun 01-Nov-15 21:25:46


Agree with all the comments above!

Ohfourfoxache Sun 01-Nov-15 21:29:01


Perhaps it should be renamed male genital mutilation.

BabyDubsEverywhere Sun 01-Nov-15 21:30:52

My eldest DS is circumcised, and my 3 year old ds is booked in for the end of November. Both for medical necessity (hypospadias). ITs was a traumatic experience for DS1 when he was 2, I am dreading going through it again, the idea that anyone would do this to their son unless absolutely necessary makes me sick.

StompyFreckles Sun 01-Nov-15 21:32:53


Pumpkinmoon Sun 01-Nov-15 21:36:55

Signed. They need to at least be at an age where they can give consent themselves for it to happen IMO.

debbietheduck Sun 01-Nov-15 21:39:04

Signed. Just because it's not as bad as FGM doesn't mean it's OK.

SweetAdeline Sun 01-Nov-15 21:41:33

I would sign it but I don't think it's double standards to think FGM is "worse", nor is it because female genitals are more sacrosanct.

OddlyLogical Sun 01-Nov-15 21:45:11

I don't understand why anyone would do this.
I would like to see it banned

Palomb Sun 01-Nov-15 21:49:24

Well fgm is worse isn't it? The act may be the same but the results of the mutiliation itself are far worse for women. I listened to a woman on R5 last weekend talking about her experience of fgm as a 9 year old (or thereabouts) and it made me feel sick. She could recall it completely. At least boys don't tend to remember.

circumcision is a disgusting, uneccesary practice carried out by weak minded individuals, but it doesn't usualy impact upon a boys ability to life life as he should be able to. Fgm does that to women. Fgm ruins women emotionally and physically.

Both practises are despicable but let's not kid ourselves that one isn't worse than the other.

JeffsanArsehole Sun 01-Nov-15 21:50:35

Yes, I would

But I would not want the divide to be greater with Jewish and Moslem communities.

It would be unbearable if there was any talk of them leaving a country which bans it.

I disagree with removing or partially removing the foreskin but it is not the same as fgm which seeks to prevent women being orgasmic or enjoying sex. Millions of men enjoy sex without their foreskin.

It doesn't help the argument to try and equate boys and girls here.

cariadlet Sun 01-Nov-15 21:53:27

I've just signed - although I do thing FGM is worse.

Fuckingfuming82 Sun 01-Nov-15 21:53:33

I have signed the petition.
I'm totally against all forms of genital mutilation.

BuggersMuddle Sun 01-Nov-15 21:54:31

I would, but I would absolutely like it to be available in the rare cases that it is medically indicated like Babydubs post above.

Branleuse Sun 01-Nov-15 22:05:21

FGM is where they slice off a womans entire visible genitalia, scrape it clean and sew up the hole, ready to be brutalised open on her wedding day, meaning she will be unlikely to give birth naturally, or experience sexual pleasure, and will almost certainly suffer extra complications

The ONLY thing that likens it to male circumcision is that they both involve genitals.

we do not liken haircuts to decapitation, so why is FGM and male circumcision talked about in the same sentance or same topic. Its just not even in the same ballpark.

Men who are circumcised live entirely normal lives. Its about on a par with ear piercing. I just cannot understand why people get het up about it.

twofalls Sun 01-Nov-15 22:07:14

Branlause nothing to do with bashing other cultures and everything to do with protecting babies from being mutulated hmm


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