Category Archives: Circumcision in Africa

A South African baby loses part of his penis during circumcision – but what went wrong?

As reported by Sunday Times News (South Africa) on November 29th, a Jewish religious court decided that a Johannesburg mohel will not be allowed to perform circumcision again, as a consequence of a botched circumcision performed last year. During that circumcision, the penis of the baby was partially amputated.

The article states that “[n]o details were revealed of why this circumcision went wrong. The Sunday Times was unable to establish how the baby is doing now and whether there have been surgical attempts to rectify the partial amputation of his penis.”

The article then quotes one Rabbi Warren Goldstein saying that circumcision “has a longer track record of proven safety than any other surgical procedure” and that “Jewish circumcisions have been done in South Africa for more than 175 years and this case is the first time that an injury of this severity has been reported“.

The name of the (ex)mohel was not disclosed. Which is not a surprise, considering that even cases where babies die after a circumcision are usually kept secret, as we found happened in Canada recently.

Well, let me tell you what Goldstein won’t tell and the reporter won’t research. Jewish circumcisions typically use a Jewish shield (barzel) or a Mogen clamp. Neither of those two devices protects the penis. The devices are supposed to clamp on the foreskin leaving the glans on one side, but improper installation, device malfunction or anatomical variation can cause part or all the glans to be trapped by the device, allowing the scalpel to cut through it without the operator even realizing it. The mogen clamp has an increased risk of injury or amputation of the glans, even with experienced physicians.

I have no way of verifying that no cases have been reported in South Africa, but I can quickly reference one in Pittsburgh, where Rabbi Mordechai Rosemberg amputated the penis of a baby in 2013. The penis was re-implanted using microsurgery and… leeches, but there is no way to know yet if the baby will even have normal sexual function.

In 2004, another Rabbi, Daniel J. Krimsky, also amputated part of the penis of a baby during a bris in Florida. The resulting lawsuit ordered Mogen instruments to pay a settlement of 10.8 million dollars, but the company was already in default after another millionaire lawsuit, over similar injuries occurred in 2007.

In 2004, Dr. Haiba Sonyika amputated most of the glans of a baby circumcised with the Mogen clamp (in a Medical environment). Reattachment was not fully successful.

All these cases could have been prevented, since in 2000, the FDA warned about the potential for injury from Mogen and Gomco clamps – but no changes were made to the devices and the warning was later archived. Ten years later Mogen Instruments would be out of business due to the lawsuits mentioned above.

Another Floridian mohel posted a blog in 2010 warning others not to use the Mogen clamp.

In spite of all this, researcher Rebeca Plank conducted a trial of Plastibell vs. Mogen clamp in Botswana in 2010, concluding that the Mogen clamp could be safer in regions where immediate emergent medical attention is not available. We wonder what she would recommend in cases of penile amputation, without immediate emergent medical attention. BTW, when stating the safety of circumcision in Botswana, Plank neglected to mention that one “participant” baby died within 24 hours of being circumcised. No autopsy was performed and the death was simply not mentioned at all in the final report. Good to know that Dr. Plank holds her research to such high standards.

The Good Samaritan Hospital in Cincinnati also performed a trial, this one of Mogen vs Gomco clamp, between 2012 and 2014. When intactivists protested, a spokesperson for the hospital released a statement calling the clamps “two medically accepted circumcision processes” – neglecting to mention the FDA warning and incidents related to the Mogen clamp.

The Good Samaritan researchers concluded that “Mogen clamp is associated with less neonatal pain physiologically by significantly lower percentage change in salivary cortisol, lower heart rate, and mean arterial blood pressure. There was no difference in CRIES scores. Mogen clamp circumcision duration is significantly shorter than Gomco clamp. Both methods demonstrate satisfactory maternal and pediatrician short-term follow-up.” I’ll let the readers find for themselves what the metrics are in the CRIES pain score, so that you know what the babies were consciously subjected to by the researchers.

Other clinical trials took place in 1999 (USA) and 2013 (Zambia) favoring the Mogen clamp.

Additionally, the Mogen clamp is the favored device of Dr. Neil Pollock in Canada, and the many disciples he enlists. Pollock also exported it to Haiti and is currently looking for the support of Charlize Theron and Sean Penn to provide similar training in South Africa.

And with this we have gone full circle, starting with a Jewish botched circumcision in Johannesburg, South Africa, and finishing with a Canadian doctor who wants to export to South Africa the very same technique that caused said botched circumcision.

While the Mogen clamp appears to cause less pain through a faster procedure, the risk of glans or penis amputation may not be realized in 100 or 200 procedures, but will eventually occur. As it happened to this baby, in Johannesburg, in 2013. Even when performed by experienced doctors or mohelin.

Sean Penn, Charlize Theron, save your money. There are better ways to actually help people.

 

 

More forced circumcisions – paid by American tax dollars

What is up with forced medical circumcisions in Africa, performed by NGOs on the bodies of minors?

Today we have this report from Noordgesig Primary School in Johannesburg, South Africa.  A few weeks ago, blogger Joseph4GI mentioned a case in Uganda. In the same article, he mentions previous cases in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

In this particular case in South Africa, we recognize that the NGO Right to Care became aware of the wrong doing of a provider, terminated its contract with the circumcision clinic and provided a public statement.

On their statement, Right to Care indicate: “Right to Care has supported the Department of Health (DoH) in this initiative over the past four years and has completed over 500,000 MMCs (circumcisions), through this partnership.

The Right to Care was founded by USAID (United States Agency for International Development) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, so, again, this is a case of African circumcisions being paid for with American tax dollars.

A sport-based intervention to increase uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision

Last year we heard a story about HIV researchers / circumcision advocates in Africa. Of course, being just a story, having no evidence, we didn’t mention it. But the story seems to be now corroborated and will be presented at the AIDS 2014 Conference in Melbourne, Australia, July 20 to 25.

So this is what we heard:

“In one presentation I sat through at a world AIDS conference (summer of 2010), a young doctor with these circumcision campaigns [in Africa] (he was marketing chief) took to the podium and explained a “successful” program. They went into the poorest communities, where the boys were mad for soccer, and bought them all new equipment and uniforms. Built them beautiful pitches to play on. Brought in well-known soccer players to inspire the boys, and got coaches. Let the boys play and get to love it. And when it came time to play in the regional tournaments, the bar came crushing down: they’d be sponsored to travel and play only if the team captain could convince most of the boys on the team to get circumcised. The peer pressure was tremendous not to let the team and community down. This doctor was positively gleeful at how successful this strategy was.”

This story might come to be corroborated here: http://pag.aids2014.org/Abstracts.aspx?SID=1104&AID=5834

Abstract

MOPDC0106 - Poster Discussion Session

A sport-based intervention to increase uptake of voluntary medical male circumcision among adult male football players: results from a cluster-randomised trial in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Presented by Zachary A Kaufman (United Kingdom).

Z.A. Kaufman1, J. DeCelles2, K. Bhauti3, H.A. Weiss1, K. Hatzold4, C. Chaibva5, D.A. Ross1

1London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Epidemiology and Population Health, London, United Kingdom, 2Grassroot Soccer, Curriculum and Innovation, Cape Town, South Africa, 3Grassroot Soccer Zimbabwe, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, 4Population Services International Zimbabwe, Harare, Zimbabwe, 5National University of Science and Technology, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

The title of the abstract reads “adult male football players”. We are definitively interested in reading all the details.

We will be waiting for the full abstract, to be made public next Friday. But now you know what to wait for.

Manipulation. Peer pressure.

GRASSROOT SOCCER

PEPFAR, the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, shared this photo a few hours ago through their facebook page:

In the Mchinji District of Malawi, local Peace Corps volunteer counterpart and Grassroot Soccer coach Henry Ching'ombe, works with the Kamwendo Youth Group on the GRS activity "Cut and Cover," which addresses medical male circumcision.

In the Mchinji District of Malawi, local Peace Corps volunteer counterpart and Grassroot Soccer coach Henry Ching’ombe, works with the Kamwendo Youth Group on the GRS activity “Cut and Cover,” which addresses medical male circumcision.

Notice that the photo mentions “Grassroot Soccer“. This is an organization with the following explicit goal, according to their facebook page: “Using the power of soccer to educate, inspire, and mobilize communities to stop the spread of HIV”

Combing through Grassroot Soccer’s website, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation makes its apparition:

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDCF) are supporting Grassroot Soccer (GRS) in a unique and innovative randomized control trial in Zimbabwe that will assess the impact of an educational intervention using the power of soccer and its role models to increase awareness and uptake of medical male circumcision (MMC) as an HIV prevention measure. The trial, known as MCUTS (Male Circumcision Uptake Through Soccer), will target men ages 18-35 with educational outreach through soccer-related messages.

http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/2012/10/15/mcuts/

While this target age should be 18-35, some other articles on the website show a different panorama:

[May 12th 2012, GRS Zambia] for the first time ever at GRS, we held mobile Medical Male Circumcision (MMC) at the school grounds. The procedure was conducted by Marie Stopes International (MSI), and was sanctioned by the Ministry of Health for outreach service delivery.  There were four boys, between the ages of 16 and 24, who elected for the medical procedure. The operation takes between 25 to 30 minutes, and there is an additional pre and post counseling session dedicated to MMC. Each boy left the post counseling session knowing they now had 60% more protection against acquiring HIV.

http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/2012/05/25/grassroot-soccers-first-mobile-mmc/

 

“Make The Cut” (MTC)

Navigating more through the website we found a poster/report of just the very same abstract discussed above, the one that is still embargoed until next Friday. But now you can read it here: http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/wp-content/uploads/ICASA-Poster_MCUTS-Qual_6-Dec-2013_FINAL.pdf

Participants found MTC (in particular the Coach’s Story) persuasive because the MTC coaches had been circumcised and could discuss the procedure.

Future implementation should incorporate home-based follow-up and small incentives while avoiding delivery during the holidays and mid-season for professional soccer players.

http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/wp-content/uploads/ICASA-Poster_MCUTS-Qual_6-Dec-2013_FINAL.pdf

Goal Trial: targeting teenagers

goal

Generation Skillz is an eleven-session sport-based HIV prevention intervention delivered in secondary schools in South Africa, primarily focusing on age-disparate sex, multiple partnerships, gender-based violence, and male circumcision 

http://www.grassrootsoccer.org/wp-content/uploads/GOAL-Trial-IAC-Poster_Final-A4.pdf

 

Circumcision in Swaziland: your tax dollars working

CNSNews reports that  The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is planning to spend $24.5 million to circumcise an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 male infants and males aged 10 to 49 in the kingdom of Swaziland by 2018, to raise the prevalence of circumcision from 19% (in 2010) to 70% (in 2018) and the prevalence of infant circumcision to 50% in 2018.

A demographic survey for 2006-2007 in Swaziland showed that the prevalence of HIV among circumcised males was 22% vs. 20% for those uncircumcised (see table 14.10, page 235)

Swaziland has the highest rate of HIV (26.5% estimated in 2012).

The United States has already invested over 15.5 million dollars in circumcision programs in Swaziland through the President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, PEPFAR in an ambitious and unsuccessful “accelerated saturation initiative” called Soka Uncobe (circumcise and conquer), a campaign that some say, could be interpreted to say that circumcised men no longer need to use condoms.

PEPFAR has particularly targeted infants (as opposed to voluntary adults) by encouraging hospitals to circumcise all male newborns unless the parents opt out.

The country is culturally polygamous. Multiple concurrent sexual partners are common.

Related:

15 May 2013, Circumcision plans go awry in Swaziland

July 2012, Why a U.S. circumcision push failed in Swaziland

 

 

Update on Rebeca Plank’s circleaks dossier

We updated the circleaks page on Rebeca Plank to include information on the 3 deaths during the 2013 Mogen vs. Plastibell trial, particularly one death from suspected sepsis within 24 hours of the procedure, yet dismissed as most likely not resulting from the procedure – even though no autopsy was performed.

http://circleaks.org/index.php?title=Rebeca_Plank

Zimbabwe: Clinic cuts off boy’s little manhood during circumcision

12-year-old Bulawayo boy’s penis was cut off during circumcision. Although the boy was under local anaesthetic, he screamed as blood gushed out of his organ. The boy was admitted at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where the cut off organ has been sewn back on. A source at UBH said while he was in stable condition, it was too early to know if his penis would be normal again. Population Services International (PSI) spokesperson Paidamoyo Magaya was unreachable for comment. PSI sponsors the circumcision drive in Zimbabwe.

Complete article: http://www.crazynews24.com/news/4856-clinic-cuts-off-boy-s-little-manhood-during-circumcision.html

On The Stream: To Cut or Not To Cut – Brian Morris, Richard Wamai on circumcision

Spotting contradictions between circumcision promoters on Al Jazeera’s “On The Stream: To Cut or Not To Cut”

If you are outside the U.S., you can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GitOnW-nzck&sns=fb

If you are in the U.S., this link may work: http://bc19.ajnm.me/864352181001/201404/3132/864352181001_3492775214001_FULL-to-BC-AJE-0421.mp4

Richard Wamai

Richard Wamai

At 8:25 Richard Wamai denies risk compensation

Richard Wamai: There is no evidence out of Sub Saharan Africa where male circumcision is being promoted to prevent millions of men from getting infected with HIV that somehow there is disinformation and that men get circumcised and reduce using condoms or change behavior, we don’t have that evidence, it simply does not exist.

At 20:21, after a YouTube blogger argues that we don’t need to amputate every tissue that becomes infected, and calls for “our bodies, our choice”,  Richard Wamai responds:

Richard Wamai: I totally disagree with that. First off all, if we talk about human rights, adult men can determine whether they want to keep their foreskin or not. If I know the benefits of circumcision, then I have the right to make the decision. For somebody to say that it is amputation, that is not quite accurate at all.

[Richard Wamai is co-author of "A snip in time: what is the best age to circumcise?" where he, along with Brian Morris and other circumcision advocates, argues that infancy presents a "window of opportunity" for circumcision. Infants cannot provide informed consent.]

Richard Wamai

Richard Wamai

At 22:25 approximately:

Moderator: I don’t understand if you are circumcised as a man, you are still putting a condom on. Why don’t you put a condom on in the first place?

Richard Wamai: Well, why, you don’t, because, you know what the rate of condom use is in South Saharan Africa?

Moderator: But you have to use it to have protection

Richard Wamai: You know what it is? Very few people ever use a condom consistently so we need to do something, that’s why we are doing studies, that’s why we are doing studies  to test whether there could be a microbicide, a vaginal stuff, gel that women can use…

Moderator: Because men don’t like to wear condoms?

Richard Wamai: Well, that too, but I mean, we know that condom use is very low…

At 23:22 Brian Morris tries to interrupt, I have not been able to figure out what he says. The show goes to a commercial break. Upon return, John Geisheker from Doctors Opposing Circumcision presents his critique of the African circumcision trials.

Brian Morris and John Geisheker

Brian Morris and John Geisheker

John Geisheker: (…)For one thing, the figure of 60% does not rise to the level of immunization, which must, by standard of bioethics, be in the high nineties. A 60% protection of anything is merely a roll of the dice. All that a person is doing who is circumcised and then not bothering to use the usual protection of ABC [abstinence, be faithful, condoms] is playing bio-roulette, Russian roulette. (Continues explaining the real meaning of the 60% figure)

Brian Morris: John is a lawyer, he is not a scientist, he is not a doctor [never mind that Brian Morris is not a medical doctor either], trials are not about following people for ever and ever, trials follow people until they find a statistical difference and in this case the statistical difference happened so soon that the monitoring body stepped in and stopped the trials because it would be unethical to continue them since the evidence showed such a strong protective effect

Moderator interrupts for a back story. Then Brian Morris continues

Brian Morris: I also completely dispute John’s misunderstanding of immunology and vaccines. Vaccines some are quite effective, but look at one of the more common vaccines, the flu vax, the effectiveness of that in the population is about 80%, which is also about the effectiveness of condoms, and with the long, long term follow up of HIV trials and roll out, the protective effect of circumcision has risen over the years, so it’s now approaching that 80% mark, and in public health we advocate [I keep missing this word, sorry] interventions, not just condoms, not just circumcision, but also a behavioral practice, anything else that we can show does work. We don’t say oh let’s just go this way because we like it. We use all of the effective methods and circumcision is one of THE MOST effective [vocal emphasis], and as Richard pointed out condoms cannot be used but once a man is circumcised he is circumcised for life and that is significant. Condoms have to be put on the penis before any sexual contact…

…..

So, let’s point some issues here. In Richard Wamai’s view, condom use rate cannot be increased significantly, so it seems better to go on a crusade to circumcise millions of men, even though men are not running to take the offer. And while Wamai denies risk compensation, he also denies that condom use rate can be increased (which is a risk compensation behavior on its own). And yet he seems to put hopes on hypothetical future gels for women to use, when men cannot (in his mind) be expected to use condoms.

Brian Morris on his end appears to be doing what he usually does: inflating the benefits and overlooking the risks. In his mind the protective effect has been increasing and is close to the 80% mark.

About this increasing protective effect, I’m reminded of this text by Des Spence (BMJ 2010;341:c6368) (we highlighted some keywords):

Study design—Study populations are biased by design. Only high risk, unrepresentative populations are studied because they are the most likely to show an effect. These data are then extrapolated to low risk populations of people who never benefit—statins are studied in Scotland and prescribed in Surbiton. The inverse care effect also means that people at low risk are more likely to seek treatment and comply with it.

The same article indicates:

Statistical trickery—There is systematic and cynical use of statistics to manipulate results [see following paragraph]. This dishonesty—the dark magic of surrogate and composite end points, “validated” questionnaires, the premature ending of studies, the reporting only of relative risks , and the lack of long term follow-up—is just cheating.

The famous 60% figure is a relative risk, a comparison between two very small percentages, as John explained in the debate until Brian Morris interrupted.

One fact often overlooked about the African trials is that the number of individuals lost to follow up was 3 times more than the total number of sero-converted individuals. This alone casts serious doubts over the “statistical significance” of the results.

Trying to listen to Brian Morris and Richard Wamai, we are reminded of the technique known as Gish Gallop: “The Gish Gallop is the debating technique of drowning the opponent in such a torrent of small arguments that their opponent cannot possibly answer or address each one in real time. More often than not, these myriad arguments are full of half-truthslies, and straw-man arguments - the only condition is that there be many of them, not that they be particularly compelling on their own. They may be escape hatches or “gotcha” arguments that are specifically designed to be brief, but take a long time to unravel.

Another important detail, Richard Wamai argued that to call circumcision amputation is wrong because every adult man has the right to decide over his body. John Geishener made clear that he and his organization (Doctors Opposing Circumcision) agree that every adult man has the right to do anything to his own body, and that their opposition is to forceful circumcision of infants and children, and to using the African trials as rationale to push for infant circumcision in the United States (extrapolation).  Brian Morris and Richard Wamai are, however, coauthors of a paper called “A snip in time: what is the best age to circumcise?” where they argue that infancy presents a “window of opportunity” for circumcision. So how would Richard Wamai defend his argument that circumcision is not amputation, after arguing in writing for circumcision during infancy?

But please dear readers, don’t take our word; watch the video, do your best research, evaluate the evidence, evaluate the advocates one way or another, and formulate your own conclusions.

Related News:

ZIMBABWE: Men are not buying circumcision…

ZIMBABWE: …so they’re doing it to babies

UGANDA: Myths about circumcision help spread HIV

ZIMBABWE: Circumcised men abandoning condoms

Evidence that “simply does not exist” – according to Wamai:

Botswana – There is an upsurge of cases of people who got infected with HIV following circumcision.

Zimbabwe – Circumcised men indulge in risky sexual behaviour

Nyanza – Push for male circumcision in Nyanza fails to reduce infections

700x450-crop-90-images_djmediatools_a.jpg.2

Circumcision Goes Wrong: 1-yr-Old Loses Manhood to Cutting

Posted: http://frontpageafricaonline.com/index.php/news/963-circumcision-goes-wrong-1-yr-old-loses-manhood-to-cutting

1 year old boy loses his penis in a circumcision performed on January 5th by a doctor in Liberia. Phillip Zinnah, Sr. 25, father of the boy explained that he took his son to the TB Annex to one Dr. Nimley for circumcision, but it all went wrong when the doctor completely cut off the boy’s penis, leaving him in severe pain. The doctor is not responding for the damages, and the institution, TB Annex, says they don’t perform circumcisions and this would have been done in secret by the doctor.

Meanwhile, a child’s life has been irreversibly damaged in a way to seems to echo the baby hurt by a rabbi from Pittsburgh and a Memphis baby hurt at Christ Community Health Centers last year. A Saudi baby also had his penis partially cut off last November.

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What Brian Morris, in conjunction with Richard Wamai (research on HIV), Aaron Tobian (Johns Hopkins University), Ronald Gray (Johns Hopkins University and director of one of the 3 African trials on HIV and circumcision), Robert Bailey (responsible for another one of the 3 African trials), Daniel Halperin (author of several papers on HIV and circumcision),  Thomas Wiswell (author of the often cited study on circumcision and UTIs) and others, wrote on their propaganda paper from 2012, “A ‘snip’ in time“:

Infant circumcision is safe, simple, convenient and cost-effective. The available evidence strongly supports infancy as the optimal time for circumcision.“ 

Of course, for those illustrious individuals, this child’s horrible experience is simply an “adverse event“. According to a 2012 paper by Robert Bailey cited by the World Health Organization:

“In developed countries, adverse events following neonatal circumcision are well documented and their incidence is very low, from 0.2 to 0.6%.5 Before the RCTs, outcomes in Africa for male circumcision among adults were poorly documented. In a review,6 adverse event rates following African male circumcisions ranged from 0 to 24%. The RCTs, which provided services in a clinical trial setting, reported the following adverse event rates: 3.8% in Orange Farm, South Africa; 1.5% in Kisumu, Kenya; and 3.6% in Rakai, Uganda.1,7,8 Most recently, at the former Orange Farm RCT site, 1.8% of medical male circumcisions offered in one high-volume facility resulted in an adverse event”

Let’s stop treating children as statistics. Let’s respect children. Children of all genders deserve to grow with intact genitals.

Your tax dollars, hard at work – circumcising African males

So while the U.S. struggles with its own health system, taxpayers continue funding African circumcisions.

According to an article in the Huffington Post, “New Achievements on AIDS Show Targets Matter — So Let’s Set New Ones “, “By the end of this year, PEPFAR reports that it will have supported 4.7 million voluntary medical male circumcisions (VMMC), meeting a goal the President announced in 2011. Nearly all of these procedures, almost four million, were performed in just the past two years.

Also “The ultimate goal of global VMMC efforts is for 80 percent of men to be circumcised in 14 priority African countries. That requires some 20 million circumcisions, meaning that we’re just a quarter of our way to the goal.

This article was authored by Mitchell Warren, Executive Director of AVAC (AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition).

So now you know where your tax dollars are going.

491442-Bielefeldt

Harmful practices against women and girls can never be justified by religion – UN expert – What about boys?

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46370&Cr=religion&Cr1=#.UnEPW-I4HLc

29 October 2013 – Harmful practices inflicted on women and girls can never be justified in the name of freedom of religion or belief, an independent United Nations human rights expert told a General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues today.

Scarification and Tattooing of children of both genders in Benin

“Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. “My main message is that there is much more room for synergies between those two rights than people generally assume,” he told reporters after his presentation.

Day of Ashura

“Often you find the assumption that, you go either for religion or for gender emancipation and you can’t really combine the two, which I would find not only wrong but dangerous.”
The expert urged Governments and civil society to look for these synergies, noting that in virtually all traditions, there are persons or groups who use their freedom of religion or belief to promote equality between men and women, often in conjunction with innovative interpretations of religious sources and traditions.

Throwing babies of both genders from tower in India for good luck

In his presentation, Mr. Bielefeldt also called on States to identify and close human rights protection gaps in personal status laws, including denominational family laws, which disproportionately affect women from religious or belief minorities.

Circumcision in Turkey

“The purpose must be to create family law systems that fully respect equality between men and women while at the same time doing justice to the broad reality of religious or belief diversity, including persuasions that go beyond the realm of traditionally recognized religions,” he stated.

Bris Milah (Jewish circumcision) with Metzitzah b’Peh (oral suction) – as practiced by Hassidic Jews

One particularly grave abuse when freedom of religion or belief clashes with gender equality is forced conversion in combination with forced marriage, said Mr. Bielefeldt.

Coptic Christian tattoos

“In a number of countries, women or girls from religious minorities run the risk of being abducted with the purpose of forcing them to convert to mainstream religion – often in connection with an unwanted marriage.”

The expert’s report offers recommendations to, among other things, integrate a gender perspective into programmes designed to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief.

Head Binding

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. They also make annual presentations to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.

Circumcised boys

 What about harmful practices against boys?