At American reform schools, all boys had to be cut.
Reader BC was searching the net for details of an abandoned graveyard when he came across a story about the State Agricultural and Industrial School, a reform school for delinquent boys in Rush, upstate New York. The story, in the Rochester Democrat and Herald, is a harrowing tale of boys who died in the institution between 1902 and 1940 and whose bodies were not claimed by any relatives.
After the details of the individual boys and their graves in the wooods comes an account of what life was like at the school. It contains this snippet:
In those days, newcomers underwent a battery of medical and dental exams upon arrival that by today's standards would be considered barbaric. Boys who showed up uncircumcised underwent surgery. The school's report to the state in 1919 indicated it conducted 120 circumcisions the prior year in order to "prevent a lot of nervousness among the boys" and protect them from disease.Not exactly news, since the article dates from 2014, but an interesting find.
Who stole Jesus' foreskin?
The story. The Holy Prepuce was allegedly given to Charlemagne by an angel, and after many vicissitudes ended up in the small village of Calcata. The village continued to display the relic (in spite of Papal oppostition) on January 1st each year (the Feast of the Circumcision) until 1983 when the parish priest announced that it had gone missing. Stolen by Vatican agents? Read the full story here here.
Thanks to Brian Morris for the link
Editor's comment In the Middle Ages there were several Holy Prepuces around, some receiving rather sexualised veneration. Now there can be any number of fragments of the True Cross, but more than one foreskin strains credibility, which may account for the Church's opposition to the cult.
Mahdian clamp on ebay.
Our auction correspondent AK has turned up another little-known circumcision clamp for sale, this time on ebay. The Mahdian Clamp is a single use device, but I didn't know anything more about it so I contacted former editor CE, our device expert, who replied:
"Note that the point of despatch of the item on eBay is in Indonesia. AFAIK no attempt was ever made to market the device outside that country. Wholesale price was just below the WHO anti-HIV target of US$10 per unit at point of use. Most relevant literature was written only in Bahasa Indonesia.
I've never handled one, but working from photographs it did strike me as being very well designed and capable of achieving a wide variety of styles. A 'third generation' disposable clamp bringing together the best of Tara KLamp (Generation 1) and neo-AlisKlamp (Generation 2). Had Mahdian emerged ten years earlier, I reckon it would have swept the board. And that could have happened, were it not for the in-fighting over intellectual property rights that plagued earlier designs."
a systematic rebuttal.
The latest paper from the indefatigable Professor Brian Morris, in the Journal of Evidence Based Medicine. "Critical evaluation of arguments opposing male circumcision: A systematic review" by Brian J Morris, Stephen Moreton and John N Krieger. It is an amazingly comprehensive review, and turned up some surprises. One example - it has long been claimed that meatal stenosis - narrowing of the urinary orifice - is often a minor consequence of male circumcision. Actually not so, it is more common in uncircumcised men!
The paper is open access, and you can read it at the Journal of Evidence-based Medicine.
Circumcision is a religious requirement - but should be done by a doctor
A survey of Muslim Turkish mothers whose sons had recently been circumcised sampled their views on male circumcision. Most (82%) of the mothers saw circumcision as a religious and traditional requirement, 64% mentioned the health benefits and 48% mentioned cosmetic appearance. The majority (80%) were performed by health organisations, with two‐thirds (66%) expressing this preference. More educated mothers were were more aware of the health benefits.
Read the abstract here - the full paper requires payment. Thanks to Le Xip for the information.
well, actually another anti-circumcision movie
Readers may remember that on 2nd December last year we ran a story about a showing of the movie 'American Circumcision' at Oxford Town Hall (see our News 2018 page). The showing caused a massive protest, with crowds picketing the venue.
Now we have 'The Circumcision Movie' which apperently peddles a similar line, for example denying the medical benefits of the procedure. It had its premiere on November 16th in the rather less public environment of the student centre at the University of Minnesota. We have no information as to whether there was a protest. Read aboout the movie, and watch a trailer, here. Thanks to JT for the information.
just make sure you get the word right!
OK, we all know the hoary old joke about the bloke who asked to be castrated then realised he'd got the wrong word. But something like that really happened!
Zaw Zaw, a 38-year-old Burmese man who doesn't speak English, went to the Iowa Clinic in December 2015 after being referred for a circumcision. Instead he was given a vasectomy. Now he has been awarded $2 million in compensation.
anything goes to get circumcision numbers up.
Back on January 1st this year we reported on a Kenyan district where male circumcision rates were 180%. Other rorts continue. Payment is made on number of circumcisions performed so, well what do you expect? One trick is that there is supposed to be a doctor and a nurse at every circumcision but, hey, they've both watched it hundreds of times so how about they both do it? Another is getting in underage boys without parental permission.
Actually it's not all bad. Circumcising underage boys at least gets them before they are likely to be infected by HIV. It also spares them the dubious operations of traditional circumcisers. And one of the curious features of the African mass circumcision program is that it is often circumcising men who are already HIV positive! Tom, who sent in this story, sees it as an instance of African corruption. I see it it differently, a symptom of the American belief that everything can be fixed with an injection of money. How long will it take before Americans see that this isn't the solution - we need organization? There are any number of charitable projects out there which make this point. Of course they use indigenous staff, and provide training, but they also set up a structured environment. My favourite, and a huge success story, is the Fred Hollows Foundation which cures blindness from cataracts. Everything, including the manufacture of the replacement lenses, happens in third world countries.
But back to circumcision, read the story at The Standard Thanks to Tom for the link.
exiled Jews finally fulfil their covenant.
Chicago has a large community of exiled Jews, many from Russia where, under the former Soviet regime, they were not free to practise their religion. Rabbi Shmuel Notik, who directs F.R.E.E., the Russian Jewish community of Chicago and Suburbs, says he facilitates an adult circumcision every few weeks, usually a Soviet-born male between the ages of 40 and 80, who wishes to finally fulfil Abraham's covenant with God. Apparently their oldest subject was 84, but this story deals with a man who was only 59. A complex, but heart-warming, story. Thanks to Tom for the link.
we now have a full writeup
Steve has now sent us detailed images of the Lem-Blay clamp and its associated literature (see our news items for 4th and 6th October). You can read it all at our LemBlay page.
This is not yet linked into our main Instruments and Techniques page but I'm thinking about setting up a historical section on that page - comments welcome.
- and so are US paediatricians
Circumcision is still the norm in the US so parents who don't have their sons done don't always know what to do next. A recent paper "Advising on the care of the uncircumcised penis: A survey of pediatric urologists in the United States" in the Journal of Pediatric Urology looks at what US paediatric urologists recommend.
Overall, the urologists had a high level of confidence in the advice they gave - median score of 10 on a scale of 1-10. Most urologists based their advice on retraction on age, with 12% recommending beginning retraction before age 2, 61% ages 2-5, 17% ages 6-11 and 10% after age 12. Before toilet training, 50% recommended no retraction, 25% with cleaning or baths, 10% with each diaper change, and 13% provided no advice. After toilet training, 48% recommended retracting the foreskin with cleaning or baths, 41% with each pee, and 19% recommended no retraction.
Faced with that level of confusion no wonder most US parents take the easy way out and have their sons circumcised! You can read the abstract on PubMed - the full paper requires payment. Thanks to Brian Morris for the story.
Doctor gets a one month suspension
Back in 2017, on June 4th, June 25th and 11th November, we reported a case where (in 2013) the father and grandparents of a Muslim baby boy had him circumcised, against the wishes of the mother. The anti-circumcision campaigner Saimo Chahal took up the case. (We posted her picture on November 11th 2017 and won't scare you with it again - let's just say that if she was walking towards you on the footpath you'd cross the street). Eventually the General Medical Council decided to investigate and last month decided to suspend the doctor for a month, due to have started today (if he hasn't appealed).Read the story at the BBC. Thanks to Tom for sending it in.
Circlist reader buys it
Those who have recently clicked the link for this item (see below) will have seen that it sold for $150 US. Not long afterwards I got an email from reader CircSteve saying that he'd bought it. He's promised a full write up once it reaches him.
Another fringe party wants to ban circumcision
The interesting thing this time is that it isn't a far-right party. The so-called Center Party voted 314-166 at its annual meeting to fight the nonmedical circumcision of boys. Party chief Annie Loof was among the party leaders who criticized the vote. The Center party seems to swing, having formerly backed the right-wing parties, but now supports the left wing. It's not formally part of any coalition. It is a minority party but has 31 seats in the 349 seat parliament. (Also a bit strange since it only got 8% of the votes which, with proportional representation, should have only given it 29 seats.)
Regular correspondent DP, who sent in the story, regards it as merely an attention-grabbing stunt. He may be right. The crazy thing is that there is no such thing as "nonmedical circumcision". Whatever the motives for performing the operation, the medical benefits - protection from UTIs, HIV infection and cancer - remain the same.
Read the story at Arutz Sheva, Israel International News.
The Lem Blay
Regular contributor AM discovered this antique device being offered by EJ's Auctions in Arizona. It is the Lem Blay Circumcision Clamp, made by the Elbe Company of 165 Parker Street, Lawrence, Mass. Neither AM nor our resident device expert, former editor CE, had ever heard of it.
You can see the full listing, and leave a bid, at EJ's on Invaluable. At the time of writing there is just over a day left, and bidding stands at $30US. (Live auction starts, and online bidding ends, at 10am MST October 5.)
If any reader has more information please contact us (and of course do let us know if you buy it.)
He's left with a buried penis
An un-named man went into Furness General Hospital (Lancashire, UK) to have a dorsal slit carried out since his tight foreskin was making it difficult for him to urinate. At the last minute the surgeon decided to do a full circumcision, and apparently removed too much skin, leaving the man with a buried penis. This has left him unable to have sex with his wife. It also has left him unable to aim his urine stream, so he has to piss into a bucket, which limits his ability to go out for the day. He was awarded damages of £125,000, which seems a pretty paltry amount but apparently it was a negotiated settlement.
It is clear that a large part of the problem was that the man is very obese, and the fact that the wound got infected added to the problem. One expert said that he should never have been given a full circumcision since he was so overweight, and another said that he should have been given liposuction and a skin graft at the time. Which of course begs the question of why he doesn't have that done now - both procedures are commonplace. And he won't get surgeon Kavinder Madhra again, he resigned after being placed under supervision (there had been other complaints about his work). One also wonders how he could have formerly enjoyed a good sex life with a foreskin opening that was too tight to even let him pee.
- or not
An interesting article in the September 9th issue of Vice highlights the circumcision research of Canadian scientist Jennifer Bossio. Apparently women overwhelmingly prefer the circumcised version, but circumcised men tended to wish they had a foreskin, believing it would give them greater sensitivity. (Other studies confirm the female preference but mostly show circumcised men as being very happy with their status - see our Surveys page.) However, she found there was actually no difference in sensitivity between the two sorts.
Both regular correspondent Tom and new contributor Mike C. sent in this story.
Professor Brian Morris interviewed on top-rating breakfast show
The Kyle and Jackie O Show is a popular breakfast / drive time show on Sydney radio. Kyle Sandilands is a bit of a larrikin, and can be somewhat irresponsible, which doesn't hurt his ratings one bit. Jackie O (Jacqueline Last) acts as his foil, bringing him down to earth. But Kyle is well-known to be pro-circumcision and on August 20th he invited tireless circumcision advocate Brian Morris to be interviewed on his show.
Naturally, as it is a breakfast show, records are played in between talk segments but we have an edited version of the interview here
Pharmacist pretends to be boy's mother to get him circumcised
70 year old Martina Obi-Uzom, a pharmacist in Clacton on Sea (Essex, UK) was left in charge of an 11 month old baby boy while his parents went away for a weekend in September 2017. She is Nigerian, a devout Christian, and strongly believed that boys should be circumcised, as is customary in Nigeria. So, recruiting a male friend to pose as the father, she took the opportunity to take the baby to a mohel in Golders Green, north London, and had him circumcised.
She obviously knew that the parents didn't want the boy circumcised and in due course faced her day in court, earlier this month, where she was sentenced to 14 months in prison, suspended for 18 months. For those unfamiliar with the British legal system, that means she doesn't actually go to jail unless she reoffends within 18 months. The big unexplained question is how the mohel could believe that a 70 year old woman could be the mother of an 11 month old baby.
A Ukrainian Jew houours Netanyahu's visit
Felix Gelfer is a 70-year-old Ukrainian Jew who had never been circumcised. When Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu visited Ukraine last Tuesday Gelfer immediately decided to get circumcised, and then got to meet Benjamin Netanyahu later that day.
Of all the reasons to get circumcised this would have to be the worst. Frankly, Netanyahu, with his racial supremacist views, sometimes makes me feel ashamed to be circumcised. I am writing this in Berlin, with relics of Nazi atrocities all around me, and we really do not need racist ideology of either sort in this day and age.
Read the article at the Times of Israel
Thanks to Tom, who sent me this story twice so he obviously wants me to post it :).
It seems the prick hurts more than the cut.
One obstacle to mass circumcision programs in Africa is the pain of the operation. So a Kenyan team (using the Shang Ring no-flip procedure ) compared injected local anaesthetic with topical anaesthetic rubbed on the skin. The topical anaesthetic won out quite strongly - it seems that the multiple needles needed for a dorsal block were a major problem for the patients.
An interesting sideline in the paper is how many boys and young men (aged 10+) had problems in retracting their foreskins. It seems the program benefitted them in more ways than just offering resistance to HIV infection.
Thanks to JH for the story.
Circumcision comedy(?) at the Edinburgh Festival
Tom Rosenthal is unhappy that he was circumcised as an infant. His name implies that he is Jewish but he insists that his family have abandoned the faith, though he was the star of a UK sitcom about a Jewish family. And he is convinced that he has been damaged by the procedure.
Today's Guardian carries an interview with him by Ryan Gilbey, apropos his stand-up comedy show 'Manhood' at the Edinburgh Festival. Yes it is about that particular hood, and the interview is so gloomy it is very hard to believe that the show can be funny. Comments from any reader who sees it are, naturally, very welcome.
Read the story at the Guardian.
£20,000 damages awarded against Leicester hospital
70-year-old pensioner Terry Brazier went into hospital for a cytoscopy (bladder examination) and Botox injection. (Botox injections are a fairly new treatment for urinary frequency and incontinence.) When he awoke from the anaesthetic he found he'd been circumcised. When exactly this happened is not clear - the BBC says last summer, the Daily Mail says 2015.
Now he has been awarded £20,000 damages - quite a large amount but as Brazier said "There's been the jokes but there is a serious side to all of this. It could have been even worse for someone else, someone could end up having the wrong body part amputated. This shouldn't have happened and more importantly I don't want it to happen again."
Thanks to JH for the story.
Turkish study looks at the psychological consequences
Muslim boys are circumcised in childhood rather than infancy. There has been a tendency to assume that a general anaesthetic poses less psychological stress for the child since he is asleep for the procedure(and typically has less post-operative pain). A recent Turkish study shows that the opposite is true.
All cases were religious, not medical circumcision. Boys were assigned to general or local anaesthesia according to their own (and / or) parents' preference. While this may not meet criteria for randomisation, it did mean that no boys started off with negative feelings having been given a treatment they did not want. The results were clear. No boys who were awake for the procedure had negative psychological consequences, while a few in the general anaesthetic group did. The differences were significant but not large.
Thanks to JH for the story.
Shang ring is the device of choice
Not the latest news - the story was published on April 26th - but interesting. The Beijing College Hospital Union, which has more than 50 member hospitals in Beijing's universities, will train doctors in universities to use the Shang Ring, a China-made male circumcision device (see our Instruments and Techniques page.) Wang Hong, surgeon at Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications Hospital, said many college students have poor awareness of the importance of circumcision and few doctors know that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV/AIDS infection. Even before the training centre was established more than 5,000 circumcisions had been carried out at the BUPT Hospital. It seems that we will be seeing a big boost in circumcision in China, at least among the university educated population.
Read the story at China Daily.
Thanks to new contributor 'greenbean' for the story.
Brits get their knickers in a twist.
On July 18th BBC1 broadcast a feature on circumcision - a time and a channel which pretty much guaranteed a big audience. Correspondent MP alerted us to this and regular correspondent Tom watched it. He reported that it was fairly balanced, and mainly slanted towards Islam and Judaism. Of course the antis did get a spot, including a barrister arguing for the 'rights of the child'. Doesn't a child have a right to the best possible health outcome? A urologist asked how many circumcisions one had to do to prevent one UTI. (The answer wasn't given but it is 3). Watch the programme at the BBC.
This was followed on July 26th by a 'horror' news item about a man whose circumcision had ruined his life .. one of a string of such stories, none of them remotely believable, that the BBC has run in the last few months.
The newspapers got in on the act. Stephen Evans, in The Independent wrote, on July 19th, that it was "barbaric and unnecessary – just like female genital mutilation" (dare one hope that one day he will get cancer of the penis?). On the 21st The Guardian published an article "Foreskin reclaimers: the 'intactivists' fighting infant male circumcision." This was so full of alt-facts that the Guardian was forced to recant, and on 25th July published a letter from Danish epidemiologist Dan Meyrowitsch - "The myth of male circumcision and sexual dysfunction". He wrote "Despite the lack of scientific evidence, intactivists promote the notion that male circumcision results in sexual dysfunction. This fake health science portrays circumcised men as sexually dysfunctional and traumatised" and pointed out that genuine evidence shows the opposite.
5-year-old takes to roof to avoid circumcision
Indonesian boys are normally circumcised around age 5. It is a big ceremony, with lots of treats for the boy, but the fact remains that he will have a knife taken to his private parts. So one little boy took to the roof to escape it. Nobody dared go up to the roof for fear the boy would fall. After a 2-hour standoff his teacher was called and talked him down.
Read the story at Coconuts.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
20,000 knives blessed for the upcoming circumcision season
Samburu elders blessed 20,000 knives so that each boy could be circumcised with a clean knife. Previously the same knife was used for all boys in a session. (The image shows traditional circumcision knives but I suspect that modern surgical instruments were used.) This avoids the risk of transmitting infection and is a great example of combining modern medical knowledge with a traditional rite.
Read the story in The Star.
Thanks again to Tom for the link.
Medicaid-funded circumcision now available again in Ocala, Fla.
Around the turn of the century 18 states in the US withdrew Medicaid funding for circumcision. In 2014 Florida restored it - as Brian Morris points out, probably because it saved more money in avoiding subsequent problems than the cost of the operation. However no hospital in central Florida provided the service under Medicaid, forcing parents to travel out of area within the 27 day window for neonatal circumcision. Now the Advent Hospital in Ocala, under new management, is offering a full range of maternity services, including circumcision, under Medicaid.
Read the story at Insurance Newsnet.
Thanks to both Brian Morris and Tom for the story.
Anger in South Africa as more young men die.
The circumcision season in East Cape province, always the most troublesome part of South Africa in this regard, has seen 12 young men die ar the hands of untrained circumcisers, acting illegally. The provincial government is promising action, but why aren't these unqualified operators in jail if their actions were illegal? Nobody can deny the significance of circumcision, and the traditional education that accompanies it, to these people, but training circumcisers and providing clean instruments doesn't compromise that.
Read the story at IOL News, South Africa.
Thanks again to Tom for the story.
British television item gets in a flap
The question was common enough - the husband wanted his (as yet unborn) son circumcised, like him, the wife was opposed. The team on "This Morning" agreed that it was an almost insoluble problem. But the resident 'agony aunt', Vanessa Feltz got the rent-a-crowd stirred up when she said "circumcision is clearly normal" to the expectant father and "dads [want] their boys to look like them in the winkle department. You don't want foreskins flapping around the house when you haven't got one yourself."Read the story at North Wales Live. You have to laugh, but it is a real problem. The sad thing is that none of the panel mentioned the health benefits of circumcsion.
Thanks to Tom for the link.
Canada's smallest province has no doctors who will perform the procedure
CBC News Canada reports "Mom 'enraged' she can't find doctor to perform circumcision on P.E.I.". Arielle MacDonald's family has a history of urinary tract infections and she wants her five-month-old son Liam circumcised to help protect him from these. But no doctor on the island does circumcisions so she faces a 4-hour journey to get it done.
The Canadian Paediatric Society has a curiously contradictory policy on circumcision, stating that it reduces the risk of urinary tract infection in infants while nevertheless opposing infant circumcision. Some might say that's Canada all over. Just to add to the contradiction, Prince Edward Island has the highest circumcision rate in Canada, with one in three babies done, according to an earlier CBC report.
At the time of writing the article had attracted 541 comments, many of them boringly predictable. But did anyone point out that Prince Edward is himself circumcised?
Thanks to Tom for the link.
Manchester clinic promotes infant circumcision
The health site Health Thoroughfare carries a story, dateline June 18th, "The Benefits Of Circumcision in Manchester For Babies". While it is essentially an advert for a particular clinic, it gives a very balanced acccount of the benefits of infant circumcision. Interesting to see that it's now considered worthwhile to advertise such a service in the UK.
Thanks to Professor Brian Morris for the link.
In Israel!? ... well maybe not
Rabbi Ben Dahan, Israel's Deputy Defence Minister, from the Union of Right-Wing Parties, claimed that "one of the most prominent members of the Zehut party established a movement aimed at banning circumcision in Israel" in an interview with the news site Arutz Sheva last week. The Zehut party is a moderate party which welcomes all Jews, observant or not, though its leader, Rabbi Moshe Feiglin, is an observant Jew. Feiglin emphatically denies the claim, which is obviously designed to put the Zehut party offside with almost all of the population. (Even the non-Jewish population of Israel mostly practises circumcision). Now it will be fought out in the courts, as Zehut is suing. Read the story in Arutz Sheva, Israel National News.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
... the art gets seriously weird.
Sculptor Vincenzo Aiello has a new exhibition titled "HUFO, The Missing Piece" opening this week at the Open Space Studio in Philadelphia. All nine artworks consist of silicone replicas of human foreskins. Note the inclusion of the 'ridged band', a feature only visible to anti-circumcision fantasists. Needless to say the Italian artist is an opponent of infant circumcision, though why exactly he thinks these sculptures will advance his point of view is unclear.
The saddest thing is that Aiello was himself circumcised as an adult, so he knows full well the benefits circumcision brings. Perhaps he gets his rocks off thinking of baby boys screaming with pain as they suffer urinary tract infections. To make it clear, uncircumcised boys are 10 to 20 times more likely to suffer from UTIs than circumcised boys. Girls get these infections more frequently than circumcised boys, but much less frequently than uncircumcised boys.
Read the full story in The Philadelphia Enquirer. To its credit, the article includes a link to a page where a paediatrician explains why your infant son should be circumcised.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Mobile clinic to reach remote districts in Botswana
Kweneng East district is vast, sparsely populated, has a challenging terrain and also has the largest Safe Male Circumcision (SMC) target of 6,151 among all districts in Botswana. A mobile clinic (4x4 vehicle) has therefore been donated to bring safe medical services, particularly circumcision, to the district. The launch seems to have been a great festivity. Read the full story in The Voice. Unfortunately the picture shows only the bigwigs, not the vehicle or the country.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
He threatened to kill her if her unborn baby was given a bris
A French Jewish woman, know here only by the alias Tziporah, was married to a Muslim man. (For those not well up in the Bible, Tziporah was Moses' Midianite wife, who circumcised their son when God got stroppy with them.) Tzipora, in an advanced stage of pregnancy, had to get out of France quickly with her infant son because her husband was threatening to kill her. "If you give the baby a bris, like you did with his older brother, I will kill you," he screamed at her when she raised the subject. Two days later she was on an El Al flight to Tel Aviv, with her mother and infant son sitting at her side. The Yad L'Achim organization found her a safe house and covered her expenses when, just a week later, she gave birth. A week after that the baby boy was duly circumcised with full religious protocol. Read the full story in the Israel National News.
This all rather begs the question of why she married the man. She'd been to a Jewish school, so there was no doubt that she was observant. Surely at least they'd have had a prenuptial agreement about the religion of their children?
Thanks to DP for sending the story.
Holocaust survivor rabbi still performs circumcisions
A. Romi Cohn has performed more than 35,000 circumcisions, including the latest for a New Albany rabbi's grandson. He watched many Jews lose faith as they saw their families die at the hands of Nazis during the Holocaust, but Cohn held steadfast. Now, at 90, Cohn still expresses his faith in God by performing brit milah, the "covenant of circumcision," which is commonly known as a bris — and helping more Jews enter into a holy covenant with God. Read the full story in the Colunbus Dispatch (may not be accessible from all countries).
Thanks to Tom for sending the link (even though he couldn't access it).
Women strongly favour circumcised men
From Professor Brian Morris comes the following paper:
Brian Morris, Catherine Hankins, Eugenie Lumbers, Adrian Mindel, Jeffrey Klausner, John Krieger and Guy Cox. (2019) Sex and Male Circumcision: Women's Preferences Across Different Cultures and Countries: A Systematic Review. Sexual Medicine, [Epub ahead of print]Naturally improved hygiene and protection from disease (particularly HIV) featured highly but women also favoured circumcised men for better sex and preferred the look of the circumcised member. The paper is open access - you can read the abstract at PubMed (with link to the full paper) or go straight to the full paper in Sexual Medicine. (Thanks to regular correspondent JH who also sent in this item).
Brian also sent in another paper which I present without further comment:
Wang, Dong et al. (2019) Dorsal Penile Nerve Block via Perineal Approach, an Alternative to a Caudal Block for Pediatric Circumcision: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Biomedical Research International. doi: 10.1155/2019/6875756.You can access it at PubMed
is at an all-time high
"Nearly 15,000 boys are circumcised in Belgium every year, but there is rarely a medical reason for this
Every day fifty boys under the age of fifteen have all or part of their foreskin removed. Most children are not even five years old when they go under the knife. The parents see problems where there are none, says the urologist Piet Hoebeke. In children, it is perfectly normal if the foreskin does not retract over the glans penis. This becomes necessary only when the boys become sexually active."
Kathleen Huys, Uta Neumann
Belgium has one of the highest circumcision rates in the EU, and this is steadily increasing. It would seem that this doesn't please Piet Hoebeke, who has had to take to a German site to air his views. Among his claims are that the foreskin is the size of a postcard and has many sexual nerve endings. A postcard is 15 x 10 cm or 6" x 4". Foreskins are very variable but (as you can verify on yourself or your partner without any cutting) an adult foreskin which covers the glans when flaccid will be about 10 x 5 cm when cut off and unfolded - about a third of the size of a postcard. The 'postcard' claim is common on anti circumcision websites BUT a professional urologist could not possibly believe it - Hoebeke is deliberately peddling fake information. Neither does the foreskin have any sexual nerve receptors - see this paper or many others.
Thanks once again to Tom for this story.
apparently because of his circumcision
The BBC has a sad, and troubling, story about Alex Hardy, a 23-year-old Briton who committed suicide in Canada, where he had been living for five years. He had suffered from severe phimosis, which had prevented him from having a proper sex life. Topical steroid treatment had failed to solve the problem so eventually he was circumcised. So far, so normal. But two years later he killed himself, saying in his suicide note that circumcision had ruined his life.
It is a terrible tragedy, but the story as reported doesn't ring true - there must be more to it. The suicide note seems to have been cut and pasted from an extreme anti-circumcision site. Maybe, once he was able to have sex, he found out that in fact his sexual problems were more deeply rooted, and that left him vulnerable to intactivist propaganda. "These ever-present stimulated sensations from clothing friction are torture within themselves; they have not subsided/normalised from years of exposure," he wrote. "Imagine what would happen to an eyeball if the eyelid was amputated?" OK, but as the urologist Trevor Dorkin, interviewed by the BBC for this article, said. "I always say to guys 'it's going to feel more sensitive to start with' because all of a sudden you haven't got this protection over the head of the penis and it will feel different". But, not for 2 years, maybe 2 weeks. And yet, Alex also wrote about loss of sensitivity in the area of his frenulum. Er - if he couldn't retract his foreskin, how could he know about sensitivity there? And as Dr Dorkin says, in the article, removing the frenulum does not remove the sensitivity of the area.
The BBC article is written from a stridently anti-circumcision perspective, which really doesn't help either Alex Hardy's memory or public health. There is apparently a case pending against the urologist (from other issues) but no evidence that anything was wrong with Alex's circumcision. The BBC also includes a table of circumcision rates which has Britain as the lowest, at 8.5%. This is wrong, a government-funded national survey shows that the circumcision rate is twice that, and increasing - see our United Kingdom page.
Both Tom and Pelagian sent in this story.
It remains legal in half of the country
Last November we reported the case of a doctor acquitted on charges of performing circumcision (hoodectomy) on girls of the Bohra Muslim faith. The Federal law prohibiting the operation (except when medically necessary) was deemed to be unconstitutional since it didn't involve trade between states. In America that makes it solely a matter for state jurisdiction. Now the Justice Department has announced that it will not challenge this verdict nor seek to amend the legislation.
The New York Times, reporting this, waxes indignant that they will not modify the law, for example by asking Congress to make it illegal to use the banking system to pay for the operation. (Surely people would simply pay cash in that case?) Why exactly it cannot just be left to individual states is never explained. Anyway, at the moment only 26 states prohibit it.
Tom sent in this story.
Filipino mother doesn't trust 'shady' English clinics
Shawn, an 11-year old Filipino boy in England, is flying to the Philippines for his circumcision. Circumcision is not a popular practice in England, according to Shawn's mother, and scouting for the best clinic led them to several shady places. "I can't imagine how they do it there and how they will do it," she said.
In the Phillipines he will be circumcised by Dr Noel Cruz using a laser cutting device. He explains that there are two popular types of cut. Dorsal slit is done by doing a single incision, removing the top part of the foreskin or excess skin to expose the glans. No tissue is removed in this procedure and leaves a "lambi", as Filipinos would call it. This is also the type of cut for circumcision done in remote areas called "pukpok." Coronal cut, also known as the German cut or clean cut, is done by removing the skin around the circumference of the penis to expose the glans. The remaining skin is then sutured back in a crown like style.
Dorsal slit is the most popular and is also the easiest, Dr. Cruz said, a big percentage of Filipinos have this done but some end up unhappy since the foreskin is still there and it covers the glans when the penis is not erected. Dorsal cut costs 3,500 pesos and coronal cut costs 4,000 pesos at Dr. Cruz' clinic. No mention of what Shawn will have but after the expense of the air fare one expects his mother will fork out the extra 500 pesos for the full cut.
Read the full story at ABS-CBN news. (It is in a rather confusing mix of English and Tagalog.)
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Ghanaian couple's baby dies after home circumcision
A 5-month-old baby was admitted to a Bologna hospital on the 22nd March after a botched home circumcision, and died soon afterwards. Police are condidering manslaughter charges. This follows a similar incident involving a baby born to a Nigerian refugee woman (see our News item for 28th December).
Circumcision is quite popular in Italy but it is not available in public hospitals, and the cost (€2,000 or more) of a private operation is beyond the means of many migrants. Surely it is time that Italy, like many other European countries, made affordable circumcision available? It is estimated that more than a third of the 5,000 circumcisions performed annually in Italy are by unqualified operators. Curiously in both this report and the December one reference is made to Islam, even though the Nigerian mother was Catholic and Ghana is a predominantly Christian country. Perhaps Italians think they can absolve themselves of responsibility by blaming it on Islam.
Read the full story at the BBC.
Both Tom and JH sent in this story.
Andrew Yang seeks to get every possible minority group on board.
Outsider Democrat presidential candidate Andew Yang "appears to be the first presidential candidate in history to take a public position on circumcision." “I’m highly aligned with the intactivists,” Yang said. “History will prove them even more correct.” But then, his campaign has tried to get every possible minority group on board. The trouble with this particular stance is that it hugely resonates with the neo-Nazi alt-right - not comfortable bedfellows for a Democrat.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Malysian boy gets no compensation for mutilation.
Nine years ago a medical assistant at a Malaysian hospital carried out a circumcision at a private home which went horribly wrong and the boy's penis head was amputated. He was taken to the hospital where the circumciser worked and they sent him to a secomd hospital who carried out surgery but did not reattach the penis head. Last year the mother filed suit against the circumciser, both hospitals and the Malaysian government. The court threw out the claims against all except the medical assistant on the grounds that they were not involved in the accident. The case against the circumciser will be heard on March 13th. Of course the problem is that he will never be able to pay adequate damages, so the mother is appealing the decision.
Moral - don't try to save money by having a backyard circumcision by an unqualified operator, even if he does work at a hospital.
Read the story in the New Straits Times.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Time to set a good example.
Jackline Ngonyani, a female Tanzanian MP has called for checks to determine whether or not her male colleagues have been circumcised. Any MPs found not to have been circumcised should be required to undergo the procedure. The call was made during a debate about measures to limit the spread of HIV in the country. Male MP Joseph Selasini supported the proposal but others were not so keen. Tanzania has a circumcision rate of about 70% so presumably a substantial minority of members in the chamber would need to get the snip. About 5% of the Tanzanian population is HIV positive.
Read the story at the BBC.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Austrian theologian urges the Vatican to bring back the Feast of the Circumcision
Luke's Gospel, chapter 2 verse 21, tells the story of the circumcision and naming of Christ. As Jewish law reqires, it took place on the 8th day after his birth (7 days later in more modern reckoning). This puts it on the 1st of January, and for centuries Christian churches have celebrated this occasion. Most still do, but for some reason in 1969 the Catholic Church renamed the day the Solemnity of the Mother of God. Now Viennese theologian Jan-Heiner Tück, writing in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (the premier Swiss quality newspaper) urges the Church to reinstate the original name and "fill the gap" in the Church's commemoration of the life of Christ. He also points out that by reminding us that Jesus was Jewish it represents a stand against racist extremists on both sides of politics.
Will Tück get his way? He refers in the article to the visit of Pope Francis to the Roman Synagogue in 2016. The Pope was asked "didn't he want to reintroduce the feast of the Circumcision of the Lord", and answered: "A good idea". So maybe it will happen.
Read the story in the Vatican News (in German, but a nice photo of the Pope in the Great Synagogue). Note that Vatican News spells the newspaper's name incorrectly. The link to the original article in Neue Zürcher Zeitung is here - also in German, but Dr Google can help. And there is a great 1470 painting of the Circumcision of Christ.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Wrap up your kosher sausage in a nice blanket.
|OK, I thought that this was a joke but regular correspondent JH assures me that this is a real product and available at his local Wal-Mart. Maybe US readers can check to see if I'm having my third leg pulled here!|
Added 28th Jan:
Yes, they are real and have apparently been making kosher hot dogs since 1905. And they are well aware of the joke potential ... their website tells us they are 'a cut above the rest' and invites us to join in a 'frank discussion'!
... er, circumcised foreskins.
They say when the going gets weird the weird get going and you really can't get weirder than this. You already know you are in fruit-loop territory with their depiction of the (detached) foreskin which includes the 'ridged band', a structure which is only visible to anti-circumcision activists. (It was invented by Cold and Taylor in 1999 based on a Japanese ritual drawing and, well, subsequent dealers in fake news don't need to look for themselves, do they?)
The entire paper is full of alt-facts, but the basis of it is the idea of stripping a human foreskin of its cells, leaving just a scaffold of connective tissue. This can then be repopulated with cells from the recipient (actually they didn't get that far, in fact nowhere near) and used to provide a replacement foreskin for a circumcised male. So you are circumcising one man to give a foreskin to another. I don't get it - if circumcision destroys sexual satisfaction, as they claim, where does this get you?
The paper is open access at Pub Med Central.
Thanks to JH for the link.
Circumcised ghosts stalk Kenya.
It would seem that the VMMC program in Kenya is being rorted, and more circumcisions are being carried out than there are men and boys available. That way the clinics get more money. At least ghost circumcisions don't injure anyone!
Read the story in the Kenyan Standard.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
Seems there's nothing to choose between them.
It appears that virtually all hospital neonatal circumcisions in the US are done either with the Mogen or the Gomco clamp, and both are roughly equal in popularity. (Curiously, it was reported that a 2010 lawsuit had led the Mogen company to be wound up - see our Instruments and Techniques page. Presumably someone else has taken over manufacture. Two consecutive short papers in Hospital Pediatrics present results from thousands of neonatal circumcisions. Both are free downloads. There is also a summary in Medscape - this is free but requires you to sign up.
With both devices, the only complication reported was bleeding and in almost all cases this was controlled either by pressure or a topical anti-bleeding agent. (Bear in mind here that with most other circumcision techniques bleeding is not a complication but inevitable). 0.47% of circumcisions required revision, either for excess prepuce remaining or adhesions - many adhesions were resolved non-surgically. Conclusions - circumcision in the US is a safe procedure whichever device is used.
Thanks to Tom for the story.
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