Is male circumcision ever justified?
In the 1930s some 35% of English boys were circumcised for medical reasons. This had fallen to to 6.5% by the 1980s and today some 12,200 such circumcisions are performed annually. Some doctors consider that this is still far too many. National rates vary widely from about 80% of males in the USA to 2% in Sweden. Today the vast majority of circumcisions are for non-medical, usually religious, reasons. Should it be allowed?
Expert opinion below but what do you think?
NO, says Dr Timothy Moss, genito-urinary consultant.
'At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it is estimated that currently some 647 million males (23% of the world male population) face death without experiencing expression of their sexuality with intact genitalia. This is a psychosexual tragedy.
As a doctor working in the field of genito-urinary medicine, I have seen the gratitude of hundreds of men saved from circumcision by medical, rather than surgical, management of skin diseases affecting the foreskin. As a result, I believe that circumcision is 'unnecessary, ignorant and brutal'.
Circumcision — male genital mutilation — has been increasingly subject to sensitive, objective and scientifically based assessment, particularly in the USA and in European countries such as Sweden, which is aiming to limit circumcision and is openly considering defining circumcision as male genital mutilation.
As with any issues relating to deeply held issues of religion and ethnicity, advocacting the move away from what is now considered by many authorities to be an unacceptable practice requires sensitivity, absolute objectivity and a scientifically based approach.
Male genital mutilation can have long-term, wide-ranging adverse affects. It also raises human rights questions and, because of the faith issue, ethical considerations, as well as issues of consent.'
YES, say Dr Shuja Shafi, chair of the Muslim Council of Great Britain's health committee and a public health doctor and Dr Rashid Gatrad, consultant paediatrician and an advisor to the committee.
'Circumcision is one of the world's oldest and most frequently performed surgical procedures; the practice is influenced by cultural and religious tradition. Globally, it is estimated that one-third of the male population is circumcised. Over 70% of white Americans are circumcised. Islam does not endorse female circumcision, which is illegal in the UK.
Why then does the topic of circumcision invoke emotive debate and controversy within the secularised West? Medical opinion in the UK generally derides circumcision and considers it wrong to undertake it, with its attendant risks, on an infant who is unable to give consent. Other people believe that circumcision causes no harm, and may be beneficial; some would recommend performing the procedure routinely.'
What do you think?
Page created on October 1st, 2004
Page updated on January 14th, 2010