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.


  1. I can't believe that we still allow this (Male Genital Mutilation) to happen. It should be illegal everywhere.

  2. Genital mutilation persists in the UK because sloppy politicians missed the opportunity in 1949, the NHS said there was no need on health grounds, but the Labour govt of the day did not ban it outright.

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