Category Archives: Religion

Council-of-Europe

Council of Europe says circumcision violates children’s right to bodily integrity. Reaction of biased media


In a matter of days, Norway, Denmark and Sweden expressed their intention to regulate or ban the circumcision of minors. After individual countries, the Nordic ombudspersons (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland), joined by Greenland, agreed to work with their governments to achieve a ban of non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys.

Dorsal slit during neonate circumcision

This was followed by the council of Europe voting and approving a resolution against practices that violate children’s right to physical integrity (bodily integrity, genital autonomy), such as female genital mutilation, early surgery on intersex children, forced piercing and tattoos, and yes, circumcision of boys in lack of medical necessity.

Infant circumcision (non-therapeutic)

Genital surgeries on intersex children

Underage tattoos on Coptic Christians

Piercings on non-consenting children

Female genital mutilation

Day of Ashura

Pharaonic circumcision, one of the worst forms of female genital mutilation

 Despite the committed legislative and policy measures which have been taken by Council of Europe member States to protect children from physical, sexual and mental violence, they continue to be harmed in many different contexts. One category is particularly worrisome, namely violations of the physical integrity of children which supporters tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite evidently negative life-long consequences in many cases: female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, medical interventions during the early childhood of intersex children as well as the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

The Parliamentary Assembly should urge member States to promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks for children’s physical and mental health of the above-mentioned procedures. Member States should take legislative and policy measures that help reinforce child protection in this context by giving primary consideration to the best interest of the child.

Council of Europe 

I kept looking for press coverage of this resolution. The day before the debate some Jewish media reported on the upcoming vote. After the approval, there was a day of silence, followed by numerous articles in Jewish sites criticizing it for promoting racism and Antisemitism.

Some blogs, men rights groups, secular groups and atheist groups covered the topic.

The mainstream media remained silent on the topic.

One day later Reuters and Associated Press started reporting, but interesting enough, the articles were not about the resolution or about children’s right to bodily integrity. The articles were about Israel criticizing an anti circumcision resolution by an European organization.

Could this be a strange coincidence? An oversight? Or is there somebody or some organizations interested in manipulating opinion to keep the impression of legitimacy over the genital cutting of boys?

For me this was incredibly enlightening how a biased media can manipulate people’s opinions on different topics. I hope that aware readers will see behind the veil. The culture is changing and even attempts to conceal this do nothing but reveal the clues to those who keep their eyes wide open.

10 reasons German Socialists want Europe to ban circumcision of male children

d44greenfield

City Council David Greenfield wants Mohelin to be able to suck babies penises without parental consent after circumcision

In any other instance, this outrageous action of sucking a newborn’s penis would constitute sexual abuse. But cut the foreskin in a religious ceremony, and now you are free to do it, and you shouldn’t even have to ask the baby’s parents if they agree, even if you may be carrying the Herpes virus in your mouth.

Thank you New York City Council David Greenfield for further enabling religious freedom to be used as a excuse for Ritual Abuse of Minors.

Let’s remember that this is not just a possibility. Just in April of this year 2 babies were reported to have contracted Herpes because of this ritual, and this infection that can be life threatening or permanently disabling for a newborn.

If this bill is enacted, every new baby infected with HPV by the means of Metzitzah b’Peh should know that this man is responsible for his tragedy.

City Council David Greenfield Metzitzah b’Peh (literally, “Oral Suction”)

From The Jewish Week:

 “This is one of the most outrageous examples of government intruding into the ability of residents to freely practice their religion without restrictions based on questionable findings.” said Greenfield, a Democrat, in his remarks, which were forwarded to the press.

“I continue to be outraged that the city took this incredibly misguided step last year, and will fight until the board reverses its decision or this bill becomes law. It is imperative that every citizen, regardless of their particular religion, be able to practice and worship without the fear of being restricted or targeted by their own government.”

Samantha Levine, deputy press secretary to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said in an emailed response Tuesday that the city was acting to save lives.

“Health Department investigations of newborns with herpes virus between 2000–2013 have shown that 13 infants contracted the herpes virus when mohelim, or ritual circumcisers, placed their mouths directly on the child’s circumcision wound to draw blood away from the circumcision cut,” Levine said.

“Two of these babies died. The city’s highest obligation is to protect its children and it is critical for parents to know the risks associated with the practice.”

Circumcision by Deborah Tolmach Sugerman, the usual crap

Another day, another circumcision post.

Today’s post by Deborah Tolmach Sugermen, MSW, with the JAMA (Journal of American Medicine Association) Network, starts, as they always do, reminding us that the procedure goes back thousands of years in time (in this case, to “prehistoric times“).

The article then says that “People worldwide continue to circumcise their sons for hygienic, cultural, and religious reasons“. The hygienic reasons are quite debatable, as it is generally accepted that “uncircumcised boys can learn how to clean beneath the foreskin once the foreskin becomes retractable” (after all, it’s easier than brushing teeth and more fun). As for cultural and religious reasons, one could also argue that people worldwide continue to circumcise their daughters for cultural and religious reasons (and those who do it argue that it’s not mutilation when they prick the hood of the clitoris to draw some blood, a procedure the AAP admitted is “less extensive than the newborn male circumcision commonly performed in the West” in their now retracted Policy Statement on “Ritual Genital Cutting of Minors”), and yet the law in the United States leaves no cultural or religious exceptions for non-therapeutic procedures on a female minor’s genitals.

Deborah then writes that “Circumcision in infancy is very safe“, which is in contrast with the AAP’s assertion that “The true incidence of complications after newborn circumcision is unknown“. She then states that “When it is performed by a trained professional under sterile conditions, few babies have complications“. I would challenge this statement given that some complications, such as the development of adhesions, buried penis and meatal stenosis, have little to do with the way the procedure is performed. But perhaps we are running into what the AAP considers “differing definitions of “complication” and differing standards for determining the timing of when a complication has occurred (i.e., early or late)“.

Parents should be told about these possible post-operative complications (which are not even mentioned in Deborah’s article), since they can result in the need for further “revision” surgeries, particularly when the AAP warned about a 119% increase on revision surgeries from 2004 to 2009.

She then states that “There are no long-term studies of the health benefits of children who have been circumcised” – which is particularly striking given that the practice of “medical” circumcision in the United States goes back to 1870, plenty of time for such studies to have been done. In lack of those studies, it could be easily argued that circumcision should be left to be a personal decision of the person, since it’s not demonstrated that circumcision improves the health of the children.

Following this, Deborah mentions the African studies on HIV, and uses this to support the idea that “male circumcision provides substantial medical benefits“. By contrast, Andrew Freedman, member of the AAP Task Force that wrote the 2012 Policy Statement on Circumcision, has publicly called circumcision a procedure with “modest benefits and modest risks“, which shows something that has been known for years, that those interested in promoting circumcision will “dismiss the harm and exaggerate alleged benefits“.

She then moves on to explain the benefits. Reduction of UTIs (no mention that after the first year, boys have less risk of UTIs than girls regardless of their circumcision status), risk reduction of HIV (no mention that this is only considered to be so for heterosexual transmission from female to male, not for male to male, not for male to female and not through non-sexual paths such as blood transfusions, and that the total risk reduction attributed to circumcision is 1.8% of the already small risk of transmission from female to male, and no mention of condoms and safe sex as better alternatives to HIV prevention), and of course, penile cancer (no mention that penile cancer is a very rare disease that occurs in old age, mostly related to phimosis during adulthood and to HPV, and that according to the AAP’s own Technical Report on circumcision “The clinical value of the modest risk reduction from circumcision for a rare cancer is difficult to measure against the potential for complications from the procedure” as 909 to 322,000 circumcisions would be needed to prevent one penile cancer event, at a cost of 2 to 644 complications ranging from mild to severe).

She then goes to explain that “Male circumcision does not appear to affect sexual function, sensitivity, or sexual satisfaction“, a statement that has been the subject of an intense information war, with circumcision promoters such as Brian Morris rabidly attacking or willfully dismissing the studies that contradict this view, such as Sorrells (2007), Frisch (2011), Bronselaer (2013), histological studies explaining the anatomy of the foreskin such as Taylor (1996-1999), or Tim Hammond’s preliminary poll of men circumcised in infancy or childhood.

The author then says that the AAP recommends that “Doctors talk to parents about the health risks and benefits” (one would hope doctors would be more forthcoming on the actual risks and complications than Deborah, a Master of Social Work who is potentially biased for religious reasons – as it’s simple to find that she is a member of the Adath Jeshurum Congregation- has just been) and that “Parents weigh this information together with their religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices“.

This final statement deserves a little bit more of attention.

Circumcision is a surgery. It’s the excision (amputation) of normal healthy genital tissue with sexual functions (the article doesn’t mention that the foreskin is normal sensitive genital tissue or that it has sexual functions).

In most cases this is done for “religious and cultural reasons” (including Deborah’s religion).

Religion and culture are not medical indications for surgery.

Circumcision is “elective” surgery, that does not treat a condition, disease or abnormality. But the patient, a minor, is not given the chance to “elect” or “refuse” the procedure.

In a recent article in the Journal of Medical Ethics, Robert Van Howe and Steven Svoboda declare that “When physicians decide whether to do a procedure, they must, and normally do, exclude from their medical decisions non-medical factors regarding the parents’ culture. Contrary to what the AAP suggests, doctors are not cultural brokers. Their duty is promoting and protecting the health of their patients, not following practices lacking a solid ethical and medical foundation.

But Tolmach Sugerman makes no mention of this ethical issue.

Why Deborah? Why?

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Rick Steves pays for a circumcision for his show

Rick Steves says:

If ever you’re making a TV show about village and traditional culture in Turkey, be sure to arrange to film a circumcision. For a few hundred dollars you can hire the band, the doctor, and the horse, and pay for all the pizzas and soft drinks. We even paid for the boy’s prince outfit. From a TV production point of view, it was a marvelous value. And the most beautiful moment for me was the heartfelt thanks the dad gave me as we left. I promised we’d send him a copy of the show as soon as it was finished.

The photos say:

Before meeting the doctor, the young man of the hour was having a wonderful time. [..]” (of course there are no words about AFTER meeting the doctor)

A good circumcision comes with a decorated horse and a three-piece band. The extended family, and anyone who hears the commotion and wants to drop by, is welcome. It’s a grand festival.

We left the family and doctor alone in the home, put the camera down, and joined the party outside. The doctor said things went just fine…but we never saw the boy again.

 
How would you feel if he was documenting a female circumcision in Africa, Malaysia or Indonesia?

A situation of injustice. Which is your side?

The Vatican tolerates stem cell research from Genital Mutilation

From: The Stem Cell Research and Cloning Controversy
  Issue: 40   Page No: 18   Updated: 12/27/2010 10:00 AM
Author: John M. Swomley, Professor Emeritus of Social Ethics
Topics: Cloning
Type: Article

The present controversy over stem cell research and cloning has occurred because Pope John Paul II has decreed that human life begins at conception instead of the biblical view that human life begins at birth. This is the basis for opposition to various forms of contraceptives, to abortion, and to stem cell research.

However, the Vatican does not object to stem cells derived from miscarried embryos or from umbilical cords. It also does not object to skin stem cells derived from the foreskins after circumcision.

***
Dear people of the Vatican,

Foreskins used for research were cut off from babies who did not consent and who may not agree in the future with a) their foreskin being cut off, and b) their foreskin being used for research.

Circumcision of minors is ethically contentious. Benefits from stolen goods are immoral benefits. You, of all the institutions, should not condone non-therapeutic genital cutting of minors, and the industrial/commercial/academic use of the tissues removed.

The United States government uses sexist standards in the assessment of religious genital cutting of minors

The United States of America has effectively displayed sexism in the assessment of the religious practice of genital cutting. In the Annual Report of the Commission on International Religious Freedom, the authors deplore that Western Europe is limiting religious circumcision (of male infants), while not making any mention at all of religious female circumcision, when in fact the United States has effectively limited the practice of religious female circumcision not only in its territory, but also uses its economic power to force other countries to limit this practice.

What we deplore here is not the limitation of FGM (which is a horrible practice and should be abhorred), but that a different standard is used when it comes to the genitals of baby boys. Such overseeing can only be the result of over 150 years of cultural bias.

The report states that

WESTERN EUROPE
RESTRICTIONS ON RELIGIOUS DRESS,
PRACTICES, AND PLACES OF WORSHIP

During the past few years there have been increasing restrictions on, and efforts to restrict, various forms of religious expression in Western Europe, particularly religious dress and visible symbols, ritual slaughter, religious circumcision, and the construction of mosques and minarets. These, along with limits on freedom of conscience and hate speech laws, are creating a growing atmosphere of intimidation against certain forms of religious activity in Western Europe. These restrictions also seriously limit social integration and educational and employment opportunities for the individuals affected.

United States Commission on
International Religious Freedom
732 North Capitol Street, N.W. Suite A714
Washington, D.C. 20401
www.uscirf.gov
tel: (202) 523-3240, fax: (202) 523-5020
email: communications@uscirf.gov
Annual Report 2013
United States Commission on International Religious Freedom

http://www.uscirf.gov/images/2013%20USCIRF%20Annual%20Report%20%282%29.pdf

Interestingly enough, female circumcision (or female genital mutilation) is not mentioned at all in the report, neither to condemn those countries where FGM is considered to be a religious ritual, neither to defend the practice of FGM in those countries where the practice has been restricted by existing legislation (including the United States).

Some will argue that the practice of FGM is cultural and not religious, as it is not mentioned on religious texts (such as the Qur’an). However, in many of the places where FGM is practiced, people (including religious leaders) consider it to be a part of their religion (especially among some Islamic groups).

In the United States, the practice of FGM is prohibited by law, and the law specifically does not allow for religious exceptions, see H.R. 941:

Sec. 116. Female genital mutilation

    `(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), whoever knowingly circumcises, excises, or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person who has not attained the age of 18 years shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

    `(b) A surgical operation is not a violation of this section if the operation is–

        `(1) necessary to the health of the person on whom it is performed, and is performed by a person licensed in the place of its performance as a medical practitioner; or

        `(2) performed on a person in labor or who has just given birth and is performed for medical purposes connected with that labor or birth by a person licensed in the place it is performed as a medical practitioner, midwife, or person in training to become such a practitioner or midwife.

    `(c) In applying subsection (b)(1), no account shall be taken of the effect on the person on whom the operation is to be performed of any belief on the part of that or any other person that the operation is required as a matter of custom or ritual.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.941.IH:

And in fact, Section 645 of H.R. 4278 effectively uses the economic power of the United States to force other nations into limiting the practice of FGM:

FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

SEC. 579. (a) LIMITATION- Beginning 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States Executive Director of each international financial institution to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose any loan or other utilization of the funds of their respective institution, other than to address basic human needs, for the government of any country which the Secretary of the Treasury determines–

        (1) has, as a cultural custom, a known history of the practice of female genital mutilation; and

        (2) has not taken steps to implement educational programs designed to prevent the practice of female genital mutilation.

http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c104:H.R.4278.CPH:

Not only that, but it’s interesting that a State Bill introduced in Illinois in 2013 by Don Harmon (which was rejected), while trying to prevent the ritualized abuse of children, specifically stated that male circumcision was not covered under that bill. In other words, had it been approved, it would have been unlawful to ritually force the ingestion of a narcotics and anesthesia, followed by torture, and mutilation of a minor, unless his foreskin was being removed as the result of the ritual.

Sec. 12-33. Ritualized abuse of a child.
16            (a) A person commits ritualized abuse of a child when he or
17        she knowingly commits any of the following acts with, upon, or
18        in the presence of a child as part of a ceremony, rite or any
19        similar observance:
20                (1) actually or in simulation, tortures, mutilates, or
21            sacrifices any warm-blooded animal or human being;
22                (2) forces ingestion, injection or other application
23            of any narcotic, drug, hallucinogen or anesthetic for the
24            purpose of dulling sensitivity, cognition, recollection
25            of, or resistance to any criminal activity;

16            (b) The provisions of this Section shall not be construed
17        to apply to:
….     
21                (2) the lawful medical practice of male circumcision or
22            any ceremony related to male circumcision;

https://scout.sunlightfoundation.com/item/state_bill/ILB00069188

So why is it that it is improper to cut the genitals of a female minor regardless of religious or cultural beliefs, but it is deplorable to limit the perceived “right” to cut male minors’ genitals as part of a religious ritual?

Perhaps because “circumcision” sounds respectable… Until we describe it as what it really is, cutting part of the penis of a baby!