Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Complications... what complications?

After a long break, here's another letter. Again not published - and several months old - but worth sharing as it reveals the dishonesty which underlies ritual male circumcision. It responded to a Daily Telegraph article, 'Don't Compare Male Circumcision to FGM', by Milah UK Co-Chairman Simon Hochhauser, which responded to Neil Lyndon's call for a 'proper debate' on circumcision.

Dear Sir,

In seeking to play down the risks of Jewish circumcision, Hochhauser of Milah UK cites a 0.2%-0.4% risk of neonatal circumcision complications, and claims this might be lower still if the surgery were 'responsibly carried out' (a bizarre assertion considering that the data comes almost entirely from US hospitals, and the most significant study (Christakis et al) acknowledges under-reporting). 

However audit data from the doctor members of the UK Association of Reform and Liberal Mohelim (cited on the website of one of their London members [1] ) shows that around 5% of circumcised UK Jewish newborns suffer persistent bleeding requiring follow-up, a significant infection, or a botched cut which is likely to require further further surgery.

So the reality for Jewish boys is around 25 times more complications than Hochhauser wants to admit. And that's even without a mention of the severe meatal stenosis which is found years after neonatal circumcision in 1 in 5 boys [2]. 

Milah UK's website claims they exist to provide 'reliable information' about Jewish circumcision, but the reality is precisely the opposite. This is an organisation which exists to protect a prehistoric blood ritual; truth is not on their agenda.



This is no isolated example of false information about brit milah complications. Consider  the mathematically impossible claims made by Zoltie and Cohen in the 1990s or, more recently, Rabbi Lexner's memory loss regarding the life threatening complications he'd caused... And note these are no random individuals - Lexner is a key player in the campaign to keep forced male circumcision legal in Denmark, and Zoltie is a mohel and A&E consultant who was called as the expert witness in the Goodluck Caubergs case.

There's a lot more to be said about Hochhauser's article, and the misleading information to be found on the Milah UK website. But perhaps more importantly it's time the WHO was challenged on the clear bias and misinformation in its documentation on male circumcision. I'll do this in a further post, and I promise it won't take me two and a half years.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

It's preposterous to compare forced genital cutting ... to forced genital cutting

There has been a series of articles about female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK national press over recent weeks. Against the background of a death from male circumcision which received no national coverage, a few bold letter writers asked why we continue to discriminate by gender in our treatment of forced genital cutting. This incensed others who, unaware of the spectrum of cutting which affects females, and the spectrum of damage which affects males, feel that male circumcision and female circumcision should not even be mentioned in the same sentence. This is my response to one male letter writer in the Sunday Times, who claimed that those who compare male and female genitalia need to, 'get out more'. It has not been published. 
Dear Sir, 

Following your exposé of FGM in Britain (22 April), Andrew Nott of Warrington (who lives minutes from the site of the latest male circumcision death) declared himself astounded that some correspondents "preposterously" compared female circumcision to the male version, suggesting that these letter writers require an urgent anatomy lesson.

As Michel de Montaigne said, "Nothing is more firmly believed than that we least know".  As the owner of an intact vulva I'd like to politely remind Andrew that it includes both a glans (the external part of the clitoris), and foreskin (medically a prepuce: popularly a hood).  As a campaigner against forced genital mutilation I'd like to remind him that cutting communities acknowledge these similarities in their choice of target.

In Shafi'i Islam for example (practised by 1 in 3 of the world's Muslims) a foreskin is considered a hygiene hazard notwithstanding the gender of its owner. The Dentist who offered to your undercover reporter a 'very very superficial'  female circumcision likely intended the kind of cut popular in Shafi'i communities - known by the World Health Organisation as type Ia. This involves snipping off the tip of her clitoral foreskin with scissors (and is the cut which the Prophet is reported to have endorsed).

The World Health Organisation has asked governments to consider the whole spectrum of female genital wounding as 'mutilation' (including this cut, and also the simple type IV 'nicking' of the clitoral hood). Why? Because in their words, "the guiding principles for considering genital practices as female genital mutilation should be those of human rights"  In other words, she owns the skin she's in. All of it.

If Andrew is to educate us, perhaps he can start by explaining why he thinks a man or boy doesn't own the skin he's in? And at the same time, perhaps he could explain why the deaths of five boys in four years from forced genital cutting don't even merit a mention in this debate?

If you'd like to read more about these issues, the 2008 Interagency Statement on Female Genital Mutilation is a good place to start. It includes a list of the seven main categories and also delves into some of the beliefs which underlie these practices. In doing so it reveals some challenging realities, such as the fact that older women, "tend to see efforts to combat the practice as an attack on their identity and culture."

This pictoral essay by Joseph4GI is also worth a look. 

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Foolish Woman speaks

Hello from the back of the crowd... Hello from a crackpot, an ill-informed nitwit; and a dimwitted fanatic.

So what am I saying that makes it clear I'm off my rocker...Take a deep breath, this is controversial stuff. 

I'm saying that circumcising a healthy penis doesn't make for a better cock. I'm saying that routine male circumcision is damage.

Take a look for yourself [note the link below will bring up images of flaccid male genitalia - it is not suitable for under 18s or for a non medical work context]

If you understand this and are aged 18+ click here to view the images. They show, on the right, a
natural healthy penis, and on the left one circumcised in infancy. Even leaving aside the loss of a rolling stimulator, the cut cock is visibly harmed. It is scarred, discoloured, keratinised and has meatal stenosis (a narrowed pee-hole). All fairly standard effects of circumcision.
But as this is the Emperor's New Cock, and you may be the Wife who lives with it, the Mother who pushed for it; or one of the Consultants who sold it, you may not wish to see these features. In fact acknowledging them may harm your self worth, your peace of mind, or your career...

I hope you will though. Because the Emperor eventually acknowledged reality... and put his clothes back on. But if you amputate a specialised part of your child's body his loss is irreversible.

*the attributes in italics were ascribed to me by Brian Morris of the University of Sydney, in email correspondence, along with the revelation that my views make me a danger to society...