Friday, 29 June 2012

British Humanists call for circumcision ban

The British Humanist Association (BHA) has welcomed a German court ruling that the circumcision of young boys for non-medical reasons constitutes bodily harm. 

The national charity which works on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity has called for a debate on the outlawing of non-therapeutic infant circumcision in the UK.

According to an article on male circumcision in The New StatesmanAndre Copson, CEO of the British Humanist Association, thinks it is "an open and shut case, ethically speaking" on the grounds that "respect for the autonomy of a person requires that they give consent for irreversible procedures affecting their body like cutting pieces off their genitals".

Pavan Dhaliwal, BHA Head of Public Affairs, makes a more detailed comment at

She says: "It is wrong to carry out genital surgery on a child when the procedure has no medical justification, carries a risk of harm, is irreversible, and when the child is not in a position to give their consent.  Female genital mutilation is already illegal in this country, and there also needs to be legislation to outlaw the circumcision of male children, when it is not carried out for medical reasons.  

"This would not constitute an attack on religious freedom, because boys would still be allowed to be circumcised when they reach an age to consent, should they choose to undergo the procedure out of a believe that their covenant with god required it.  But infants are too young to give their consent, and their right to bodily integrity must take precedence over the religious beliefs of their parents.’"

Jewish Mum speaks out against circumcision

The doctor, psychotherapist and a Jewish mother - Dr Jenny Goodman  - spoke out against male circumcision on BBC's Woman's Hour yesterday (Friday 29th June). 

In an interview with Jenni Murray that included opposing views from Ibrahim Mogra an Imam form leicester and a member of the Muslim Council of Great Britain.

Dr Goodman said:

"Circumcision is removal of the foreskin, part of the baby’s body, without the baby’s consent and it does cause pain, it does cause damage and it very frequently causes complications that bleeding and infection, which are complications for any surgery, but the kind of complications we accept if surgery is being done to save life and limb.

"So on the one hand I do think the child has the right to remain intact and not be injured. On the other hand we have two sets of human rights in terrible conflict here. We have the child’s right to its human body, to not to be hurt, but we also have the right of religious freedom and they’re both real and they’re both valid rights, but I think when they come into conflict like this my instinct would be to say the child’s rights have to come first.

"However the law can be a blunt and heavy-handed implement and I would far rather that we outgrew the practice of male circumcision by a grassroots movement from below. And I can tell you it is  beginning with the mothers, because what happens to a mother when a baby has part of his body removed with pain and trauma and the danger of bleeding, is the mother is instantly disempowered.

"Her natural instinct to cherish and protect the child and keep him from all harm is brought into immediate conflict with her loyalty to her tradition, her tribe, her community. And she is told that if this procedure isn’t done he cannot be part of his community. Now that is a circular, self-perpetuating argument with an element of the Emperor’s new clothes

"If you don’t circumcise that’s not an irrevocable decision, a boy or a young man can choose that for himself later on. My problem is imposing this on helpless infants and in most  clutures helpless mothers as well."

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

German court rules male circumcision illegal

In a groundbreaking decision, a regional court in Cologne, Germany has ruled Unnecessary Male Circumcision illegal.

The following post is based on a google translation of an article which appeared in the German Financial Times -  you can read to google translation by clicking here

The ruling concerned a Muslim doctor who had circumcised a four-year-old boy at the request of the parents Two days later the boy was bleeding from his penis and the mother took him to the children's emergency room.

Local prosecutors became aware of the case and indicted the circumciser. The district court initially found the procedure to be legal but the prosecutor and she appealed.

At the appeal the district court ruled that the circumcision constituted "serious and irreversible impairment of physical integrity."

According to the article, this means that the circumcision of boys for non-medical reasons in future with be considered an assault and anyone who circumcises a boy in Germany is liable to prosecution.

Neither the parents nor the right to freedom of religion guaranteed in the Basic Law can justify this procedure, the court ruled.

Every year in Germany, several thousand boys are circumcised in their early years at the request of parents. It is the first time a German court has ruled the procedure is illegal.

The news is a huge victory for "intactavists" worldwide and the article acknowledges that a "massive resistance"   to the practice is taking shape. 

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Racist, Sexist Telegraph Readers Think Genital Mutilation Is Hilarious

Online readers of the UK’s Daily Telegraph are engaging in racist, sexist and sexually violent jokes about the genital mutilation of African men, just one day after it was reported that an African baby bled to death in London as the result of an Unnecessary Male Circumcision.

In a week when circumcised men were being chased through the streets of Africa  by knife wielding gangs intent on cutting off their foreskins – click here for a report from Uganda – online readers of the UK’s Daily Telegraph exchanged racist, sexist and sexually violent jokes about circumcising African men.

The comments were under an article about male MPs in Zimbabwe getting circumcised as part of a misguided HIV/Aids campaign – which you can read by clicking here – and included comments like:

SEXIST: “Well, that's the most intelligent part of them gone!”

RACIST: “I usually treat myself to a Waitrose Black Pudding….not sure I could put one of those  black things in my mouth again”

SEXUALLY VIOLENT: “They should have castrated the whole bloody lot of them!!”

Other comments included:

Spikey: Perhaps we could persuade our politicians to have it done but this time keep the bit they remove and throw away the rest.

Nice_Guy_Nacho: An advertisement has appeared in the "sits vac" columns of The (Zimbabwe) Herald. "WANTED:
Surgeons with experience in circumcision - salary, Z$ 30,000 p.a. (plus tips )."

ColinPowis: Well, there'll be no more choking the chicken for a while. And Moses said to Pharoah  '' Pharoah ....Let that chicken be”

Mummyknowsbest : “Well thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I usually treat myself to a Waitrose Black Pudding for saturday tea , perhaps today I will give it a miss. Not sure I could put one of those  black things in my mouth again. I guess its a age thing - Oh well!”

Feisty: A stitch in time saves 9...”

prettyboyguy: “When Robert Mugabe was circumscribed, they threw away the wrong bit. Let's hope his compatriots do not make the same mistake.”

JohnDevries: “Well, that's the most intelligent part of them gone!”

Anotherjack: “They cut off the wrong heads.”

nickwain: “Why stop at the foreskin...........”

rastus321: “They should have castrated the whole bloody lot of them!!”


You can email your thoughts to The Daily Telegraph here:

Or if you can feel the comments constitute a hate crime report click here to report the matter online

Men with foreskins chased by mobs with knives

Uncircumcised men are being chased through the streets naked by knife wielding gangs intent on cutting off their foreskins according to reports from Uganda.

A misguided campaign aimed at reducing HIV transmission through mass circumcision has gone badly wrong in Uganda with knife wielding gangs chasing uncircumcised through the streets intent on cutting off their foreskins.

More than 200 men have been attacked; 2 have come close to death; police have used tear gas to disperse gangs; terrified men are rushing into hospital to have emergency circumcisions to avoid being violently attacked for having a foreskin and surgeons have been arrested and charged with assault.

The Africa Report carries a shocking story of one naked victim being chased through the streets of Mbale in Uganda by a gang of more than 50 and a scalpel wielding surgeon. The man sought sanctuary in the Resident District Administrators office where guards fought off the assailants.

Other men have not been so lucky. According to a report in The Atlantic Wire more than 40 men have been subjected to forced circumcision in two days due to a "disturbing mix of cultural and science-based values". The men who fell prey to the forced circumcision campaign were targeted because their wives or girlfriends were part of the Bamasaba tribe, which prescribes circumcision to all males from the age of 15

 "We are helping those who feared getting circumcised through cultural processes," said program leader Badru Wasike, who told Africa Report that it was a cultural and health exercise. "We are aware that circumcised men do not easily get infected with HIV/AIDS. Since they love our relatives we want them to be safe."

It is estimated that a total number of about 220 people have been circumcised from the time the exercise began.

Dr. Jaffer Balyejjusa a senior Consultant surgeon at Mbale regional Referral Hospital has condemned the act of forceful circumcision.

He said that so far they have received two cases where the victims had been circumcised badly putting lives in danger.

The Ugandan Observer newspaper reports that business in Mbale was paralysed when unruly youth stormed the streets and began indiscriminately circumcising anyone they came across.

Many businessmen of different ethnicities, that do not practise circumcision, locked their shops and fled. Those captured yelled in pain as they were circumcised in front of onlookers in the suburbs where different ethnic groups reside or do businesses.

Police engaged in a hide-and-seek game with errant youth and used tear gas to disperse crowds and three traditional surgeons involved in this operation have been arrested and face charges of forcefully inflicting harm on their victims.

At least 46 men between the ages of 30 to 70 rushed to Mbale referral hospital to be circumcised to avoid having their genitals mutilated by angry mobs.

Police Commander Micahel Ongica said.

“Some members of the business community have come to us seeking security because these hooligans are attacking anyone they presume uncircumcised. We shall arrest and prosecute anyone found loitering in town looking to destabilize peace in the name of circumcision”

Human rights activist Keneth Mabonga told The Africa Report "Men were told to unzip on the streets to ascertain whether they had been circumcised. That is not only unfair but also inhuman."

In and insightful report in the Ugandan newspaper The Observer, Patience Akumu describes the rising problem of forcefully-circumcised men reveals a failure to acknowledge men as victims of gender-based violence:

"Tales of the brutal arrests and forceful circumcision the men go through are rife, but somehow they never receive that much attention. It is hard for society to fathom that the macho men can be on the receiving end of physical and verbal attacks, particularly in the private arena where they rule as kings. Sexual and gender-based violence campaigns almost always focus on women as victims and the men only feature as perpetrators." 

Some cultural leaders condemned the act. John Musila, a spokesman for the Bamasaba tribe said:

"We as Bamasaba condemn indiscriminate cutting of non-Bagisu. In our culture, non-Bamasaba cannot be forced into circumcision unless they accept on their own. Those forcing non-Bamasaba into circumcision should not be associated with our culture and those doing it, should be cautioned"

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, MPs are setting aside political differences to promote mass circumcision - click here for the story - and an African baby bled to death after being circumcised in London

Zimbabwe MPs set aside political differences to promote dangerous circumcision together

In a bizarre show of political unity, forty-four members of Zimbabwe's parliament were circumcised on Friday as part of a misguided drive to beat HIV/AIDS by circumcising men.

This is despite the fact that in 2005 research by USAID found 14.2% of non-circumcised men had HIV compared to 16.6% of circumcised men.

To find out why we oppose the mass circumcision of African men see our blog post ten reasons to stop male circumcision in the fight against AIDS.

Male African MPs had previously resisted calls from female MPs, led by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, for them to set and example by getting circumcised.

Minister of National Healing Moses Mzila Ndlovu told the BBC's Brian Hungwe in Harare that some of his cabinet colleagues had described Ms Khupe's suggestion as "madness" and "bizarre". "I don't see many takers but I'm not stopping anyone," he said.
Aids experts, however, warned that using a condom, abstaining from sex or being faithful to one partner offer far greater protection against HIV infection.
In a continent where there are already many dangerous beliefs about HIV/AIDS – such as the belief that sex with a virgin cures Aids - ampaigners are also concerned that the practice is spreading a new and dangerous myth that circumcised men cannot catch or pass on Aids.

This belief appears to be held at the highest levels as has been shown by the bizarre case of Botswana’s Assistant Minister of Health, Gaotlhaetse Matlhabaphiri who has revealed that he is circumcised amidst allegations that he had unprotected sex with another man’s wife.

He allegedly told the woman in question that he could not expose her to sexually transmitted diseases as he did not have a foreskin.

And in Uganda gangs have taken the misguided public health campaign into their own hands chasing uncircumcised men through the streets with knives and forcibly mutilating the penises of more than 200 men.

Meanwhile, in Zimbabwe, the MPs from President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's join forces to get circumcised giving further credibility to the dangerous belief that circumcision prevents Aids.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Medics urged to ban circumcision as baby boy bleeds to death

The British Medical Association will be urged to debate the banning of Unnecessary Male Circumcision at its annual meeting next week after a baby bled to death in Queens Park, London.

The tragic case of 28 day old Angelo Ofori-Mintah is the latest in string of deaths and injuries that have prompted some doctors to call for laws that protect girls from unnecessary genital cutting to be extended to protect boys.

The news of Angelo’s death came in the same week that The British Association for Community Child Health reported in it’s quarterly newsletter that a baby boy's skull was fractured during a ritual circumcision performed on a kitchen table in Bristol.

Now Dr Antony Lempert, GP and Director of the Secular Medical Forum, will be calling on the BMA to debate the banning of Non Therapeutic Circumcision in the UK at the start of its annual meeting.

Other cases that have helped push the issue up the agenda include the case of a Salford midwife who will be tried for manslaughter later this year after a boy she circumcised bled to  death, and a report in The Journal of Public Health that found that nearly 1 in 2 Muslim boys circumcised in an Islamic school in Oxford ended up with medical complications.

There is currently a growing demand across Northern Europe to outlaw the practice with the junior member of Norway’s coalition government calling for a male circumcision ban earlier this month and medical associations in Sweden an The Netherlands also opposing the practice.

Britain’s leading anti-circumcision charity, NORM UK, is heading for Rotterdam next week for an international conference on the Doctor And The Foreskin (subtitle Circumcision: forbid, deter or encourage?)

The Campaign To End Unnecessary Male Circumcision estimates that more than half a million boys living in the UK will be subjected to medically unnecessary circumcision before their 16th birthday.

And the anti-circumcision movement is growing in the UK with campaigners from the group Men Do Complain planning to protest outside the British Medical Association’s Annual Representatives Meeting in Bournemouth next week.

The campaign founder, Richard Dunkcer, says they will be protesting because “cutting the genitals of healthy boys who cannot consent is profoundly unethical".

Another group, Genital Autonomy, is planning a mini-conference in at Keele University in July to bring together leading experts and practioners to debate “How Can We Prevent unnecessary Male Circumcision”.

Another circumcised baby bleeds to death in England

A baby boy bled to death after the Rabbi who circumcised him advised his concerned mother to stem the bleeding from the wound with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). 

According to an online report on the circumcision death the incicision in Angelo Ofori-Mintah’s penis began to bleed a few hours after Rabbi Mordehai Cohen circumcised the one-month-old baby from Queens Park London.

Realising her son was bleeding, Mrs Maame Abrafi who is originally from Ghana, removed the bandage at home. Mrs Abrafi asked a friend to contact the Rabbi and he advised applying petroleum jelly to the wound.

The Deputy Coroner Shirley Radcliffe described this as a “tragic break-down in communication” and although the bleeding eventually stopped, Angelo became cold and pale and was rushed to hospital with dangerously low oxygen levels.

He suffered a cardiac arrest and died in the early hours of 17 February 2012 and tests revealed he had lost about three-quarters of his total blood volume and died as a result of an acute haemorrhage due to circumcision.

The coroner angered opponents of Unnecessary Male Circumcision today by ruling that the death was accidental.

It isn’t the first time Dr Radcliffe has angered campaigners. The doctor hit the headlines last year when the family of a cyclist killed by a lorry took legal action against her claiming she failed to comply with her duties to "fully, fairly and fearlessly" investigate the facts of the death

Angelo’s is not the first baby to bleed to death as the result of a circumcision. Later this year a Salford midwife will be tried for the manslaughter of the baby Goodluck Caubergs who bled to death in 2012.

In light of this recent death you are strongly encourage to sign our online petition to government – click here now to help us End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Circumcision Campaigners In British Medical Association Vigil

Good luck to our friends at Men Do Complain who are holding their annual vigil outside the British Medical Association's Annual Representatives Meeting in Bournemouth next week.

Men Do Complain, led by Richard Duncker, say they aim to "remind doctors...that cutting the genitals of healthy boys who cannot consent is profoundly unethical".

If you want to join Men Do Complain they will be meeting at the address below at 0830 hours on Monday 25th June 2012. They will have some t-shirts, banners and leaflets available.

Address: Bournemouth International Centre, Exeter Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5BH

Earlier this month we reported that the British Medical Association (BMA) may be debating the issue of Unnecessary Male Circumcision at the meeting.

Dr Antony Lempert, a GP and Director of the Secular Medical Forum, has submitted a motion to debate Non Therapeutic Circumcision via the Shropshire division of the BMA.

To read more about the motion on Unnecessary Male Circumcision click here now

If you can't get along to the vigil and want to back the campaign to End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK why not sign our online petition today

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

End Male Circumcision Petition Hits 500

More than 500 people have signed an online petition to End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK that was launched just three weeks ago.

The petition - which you can sign here now - highlights the fact that a baby boy bled to death in Oldham as a result of Unnecessary Male Circumcision, states that the practice is risky, abusive and unnecessary and affects 1 billion men and boys worldwide.

If you sign this petition today you will add your voice to the growing number of people who are calling on  Government to take immediate action on behalf of the 500,000 boys in the UK who are affected by or at risk of Unnecessary Male Circumcision:

  • Setting up a national register of all male circumcisions performed in public, private and community settings to assess and monitor the scale of the problem

  • Taking action to reduce the number of ‘medical’ circumcisions that are performed unnecessarily on boys who could have their condition treated without surgery
  • Starting work towards giving boys the same legal rights and strategic support that girls are currently given to protect them from unnecessary genital cutting and mutilation
As well as signing the petition yourself you can help us to End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK by sharing on social media sites or emailing the petition to you friends. 

Thanks to everyone who has supported this petition so far and if you haven't already done so CLICK HERE NOW TO SIGN THE PETITION TODAY 

You can also stay in touch with the campaign on Facebook - click here to join now

Monday, 18 June 2012

Baby's skull fractured in Bristol circumcision

A baby boy's skull was fractured during a ritual circumcision performed on a kitchen table in Bristol in England according to a member of a leading child health and protection charity. 

Writing in the quarterly newsletter of The British Association for Community Child Health (BACCH), a membership organisation for doctors and other professionals working in paediatrics and child health, Dr Maria Bredow says:

"In Bristol we have had a series of serious complications following male circumcision by unregistered practitioners over the years (including skull fracture/head injury when a baby fell off the kitchen table during the procedure). 

"It has not been possible to protect children from the practitioner(s) because the community refused to confirm the identity/ies of the practitioner(s) since these people are highly respected within their communities. 

"Parents of affected children often did not have English as their first language, and were wary of engaging with police or authorities (e.g. GMC) who were making enquiries regarding the practitioners, thus putting male children from these communities at increased risk.

"Unregistered practitioners of male circumcision often practise over a large geographical area, visiting a city and performing a series of circumcisions within that community before moving on to the next town.

"The procedure is legal, but with an incompetent practitioner, emergency departments may see a series of complications within a short time period. Exact details/contact details of the practitioners should be taken from parents/carers at the time of presentation, and relevant agencies informed as appropriate (e.g. GMC, CYPS, police, religious/cultural leaders of relevant community)."

Dr Bredow sits of the executive committee of BACCH as a representative of The Child Protection Special Interest Group which draws it membership from both the British Association for Community Child Health (BACCH) and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH)

The BACCH Newsletter also highlights how professionals in Bristol are working with communities affected to reduce the number of girls taken abroad to be genitally mutilated. We have previously highlighted the very different approaches taken towards to male and female circumcision in our popular post: The Bristol Compromise

In an editorial column, Dr Catherine Tuffrey says: "Female genital mutilation is illegal in this country and, I don't doubt, we would all agree is a form of abuse. So what about male genital mutilation?

"The Dutch and Swedish Medical Associations have now come out against the practice - why don't we in the UK also have the courage to protect boys in the way we protect girls from this form of abuse?" 

Antony Lempert and Anish Shah of the Secular Medical Forum put forward a well-argued case in the newsletter, calling for Unnecessary Male Circumcision to be viewed in the the same light as FGM - deliberate damage to a child's body for no medical purpose because of the parents' cultural beliefs. 

In the article they argue that "ritual circumcision or non-therapeutic excision of the foreskin (NTEF) is increasingly under the spotlight...... the medical profession, the public, and even some
religious organisations are increasingly turning away from this traditional religious operation."

Support our campaign to End Unnecessary Male Circumcision by clicking here to sign our online petition today.