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11th July, 2017. Medical ethics in Belgium

Committee considers circumcision - slowly.

In early 2014 the Advisory Committee on Medical Ethics set up a sub-committee to investigate the question of circumcision "when the intervention is not on necessary medical grounds" reports the Brussels Times. Apparently the sub-committee now intends to report "by the end of the year". Will 4 years of deliberation give a meaninful conclusion? It seems unlikely, opinions are too polarised. The final recommendation will not be binding, but it will probably carry some weight.

The article is full of errors. It refers to the 2013 resolution of the Council of Europe calling for banning religious circumcision - but that was overturned (by a huge majority) two and a half years ago! See our news item for 7th October 2015. It also states that 15% of Belgian men are circumcised - in fact the figure is more than double that - see our Belgium page and our news item for 1st November 2016.

Thanks to Tom for the link.

27th June, 2017. Norway's circumcision ban is now off the agenda.

Progress party does an about-face.

Last month the Norwegian Progress Party voted in favour of a bill to ban circumcision of males younger than 18 years. However yesterday Siv Jenson, Finance Minister and the leader of the Progress Party, announced that neither she nor her party supported the bill. She told a meeting of European Jewish leaders: "The bill is not on the agenda of the government, nor on the agenda of the Progressive Party, nor on my personal agenda ... We in Norway are opposed to any form of anti-Semitism and we will always defend our Jewish community, with which we have an excellent relationship."

Read the full story in Arutz Sheva-Israel National News.

Thanks to Tom for the link.

25th June, 2017. More on the Nottingham case (4th June)

Muslim grandparents who had their baby grandson circumcised.

The doctor, as well as a man and a woman (presumably the grandparents) were briefly arrested, then released, according to a BBC News report on June 22nd. The charge is "grievous bodily harm" which, if upheld, would presumably make all circumcision illegal in the UK. Let's hope the Jewish and Muslim communities are watching. Continue to watch this page for updates....

Thanks to former editor Chris Eley for the information.

23rd June, 2017. Why do parents choose circumcision for their sons?

A Texan study

A recent survey was carried on parents on newborn boys at Northwest Texas Hospital, to discover what influenced parental choice for or against circumcision. The overall circumcision rate was 87%. The strongest correlation was with the father's circumcision status. Caucasians were most likely to choose circumcision, Hispanics least likely. Working backwards from their figures I get circumcision rates of 92% for Caucasians, 75% for Hispanics and 89% for African-Americans (these are not stated as such in the paper). This is a much higher rate for Hispanics than given in earlier surveys (see our USA page.

Higher educational levels also made parents more likely to choose circumcision. Catholics were less likely to circumcise, but this was probably because Hispanics are mostly Catholic. Interestingly, medical counselling (or lack thereof) made no diference at all. Parents with private insurance were more likely to circumcise than those on Medicaid, but the paper doesn't explain if this was because of a difference in coverage. The paper is in the June issue of Global Pediatric Health. (Open access)

Thanks to Brian Morris for the information.

4th June, 2017. Another mixed religion dispute

Grandparents had the baby circumcised.

Back in 2013 the paternal grandparents of a 3-month-old baby Muslim boy were looking after their grandson, and arranged a circumcision for the boy at Bakersfield Medical centre in Nottingham. The boy's mother subsequently complained to Nottingham police, who decided that there was no case to prosecute. Now the boy is 4 and his mother has got the ear of 'human rights lawyer' Saimo Chahal QC, who wants the doctor, Dr Balvinder Mehat, prosecuted. That's where it stands at this moment. See the BBC News report and watch this page for updates..

Thanks to former editor Chris Eley for the information.

23rd May, 2017. Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy

When the going gets weird the weird get going.

On May 7th I was relaxing on a subtropical island, glad to be out of reach of both phone and internet. So I had no idea that this was the "Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy". Now to me 'genital autonomy' would imply giving your private parts the right to self-determination - and my wife would doubtless say that in my younger, friskier days my dick did indeed run the show. Sadly, though, that isn't what it's all about. It's a day created by German far-right activists and anti-circ campaigners to commemorate the day in 2012 when a judge in Köln (Cologne) declared that religious circumcision was illegal. You can read all about it on our Germany page. As you can imagine the Bundestag (German Parliament) swiftly enacted legislation to ensure that the right to circumcise was assured. One of the craziest things about this was that Germany has one of the highest non-religious circumcision rates in Europe. There is a very judiciously balanced article about it on Deutscher Welle, the site of the German international broadcaster.

Thanks to Tom for the link.

22nd May, 2017. Prepex update

No longer a non-surgical technique.

On April 5th Prepex co-founder and former CEO, Tzameret Fuerst, was honoured on Wall Street as part of 'Israel Day' at the Stock Exchange. Read about it here. Behind the scenes, though, things were getting a bit rocky.

Back on February 20th a paper in the Journal of the International AIDS Society reported that 'adverse events' were 3 times more likely after Prepex procedures than conventional surgical circumcision. See the abstract in Pubmed. Most of the problems came from attempted self-removal before day 7, which suggests that wearing the device is less comfortable than the makers claim. The smell of the necrotic foreskn is also said to be unpleasant.

More serious is the tetanus issue. As far back as 2014 it was being reported that the African circumcision campaign carried a risk of tetanus infection, and eventually it turned out that although this applied to all methods, it was more common following Prepex circumcision. This led Prepex to adopt a radical procedural change. The device is unchanged but now the prepuce is removed the same day. After half an hour the foreskin is checked and once it is totally numb it is cut off with scissors. The ring is still removed after a week. This is said to reduce the tetanus risk to a level comparable with other techniques, and also eliminates the unpleasant smell. Details in the May 16th Prepex newsletter. For an African comment see the report on All Africa.

Thanks to Brian Morris, Tom, MP and Prepex for the information.

21st May, 2017. Short Skin

A foreskin movie!

Not exactly breaking news - this is an Italian movie from 2015 but it is bound to interest Circlist members. It is a coming-of-age comedy, full title "Short Skin - I dolori del giovane Edo" (the problems of young Edo). Eduardo (Matteo Creatini) is a tall, gangly but handsome 17-year-old who, like his friend Arturo, wants to lose his virginity. He has no shortage of willing helpers - the girl across the street, a more experienced girlfriend, even the old Maggie May cliche, the golden-hearted prostitute.

The problem is that he suffers from severe phimosis - even erections are uncomfortable - and that is the basis of the comedy. You can view the trailer (with subtitles) here. The New York Times Review complains that even though we see his butt as his parents, his doctor, and even his kid sister investigate his problem, we never get to see it for ourselves. Then again, Matteo Creatini probably doesn't have the problem, and it might be hard to find a 'dick-double'!

I haven't watched the movie, but presumably he eventually gets circumcised. It can be streamed or downloaded from the regular sites for a small fee and more inventive members can probably find it for free. If anyone would like to write a review it would be most welcome for our Reviews page - contact us.

Thanks to regular correspondent AM for the link.

23rd April, 2017. Circumcision in Papua New Guinea

Dorsal slit does protect against HIV and other STDs

See our March 28th item. Recent research has shown that the traditional dorsal slit, used by many of PNG's various peoples, is indeed effective against AIDS. This implies that it more important to introduce circumcision to those tribes that don't perform any sort of penis operation. See: Pubmed.

Thanks to Brian Morris for the link.

22nd April, 2017. Penis cut off - update

Doctor exonerated

See the 4th April news item. Reprise: Back in 2014 an Italian doctor in Switzerland was circumcising a young Muslim boy. The father was taking photographs, and the boy turned on his side to pose for the picture. Unfortunately this was at a rather critical moment and the upshot was that his penis was cut off. It was successfully reattached. The court has now ruled that the doctor was not to blame. (Incidentally, the doctor concerned has since performed 2,500 more circumcisions).

Read about it at the Daily Mail

Thanks to Tom for the original story and this update.

15th April, 2017. Wolverine?

Filipino clinic uses super-hero to promote circumcision.

A circumcision clinic in Antipolo is using a dramatic image of the super-hero Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) to recruit patients - check out the Dionisio M. Cornel Memorial Medical Center. I must say I'd have thought it would scare boys away!

The curious thing is that though I posted (1st March) that based on his birth date Hugh Jackman was probably circumcised, the Aussie website Helmet or Hoodie has him as a a 'hoodie' - uncircumcised. I would have thought that in the discussion with Patrick Stewart on the Graham Norton show (see our 1st March post) he would actually have revealed his status but it isn't in the youtube clip. Did any of our readers watch the show? If there is anything you can add please email us (see link above).

Thanks to Tom (who tried to persuade me he had no idea who Wolverine was) for the link.

14th April, 2017. The male body in art

How the male body has been depicted over the centuries

The online arts magazine Artsy ran a feature on the male body in art - the conflict between muscular and slim. Circumcision isn't specifically covered but .... Pioneer bodybuilder Eugene Sandow (who'd win the booby prize these days) is hilariously depicted with a tin figleaf clipped to his privates. The last image is the most startling, a recent sculpture by Frank Benson. I'm not giving a spoiler - go to the site: Artsy - male body.

4th April, 2017. Penis cut off

Muslim circumcision went horribly wrong

Back in 2014 an Italian doctor in Switzerland was circumcising a 4-year-old Muslim boy. The father was taking photographs, and the boy turned on his side to pose for the picture. Unfortunately this was at a rather critical moment and the upshot was that his penis was cut off. It was successfully reattached, though it is said that he might need further surgery at age 18. (Why 18? The age of consent in Europe is 16.) The case has now reached court, and both sides are blaming the other.

Read about it in the Independent and the Daily Mail.

Thanks to Tom for the story.

3rd April, 2017. "Typhoid Mary" mohels

New York gives them a slap on the wrist.

The mayor of New York has identified two of the ultra-Orthodox mohelim who have infected several babies with herpes. They have been issued with $2,000 fines ($2,000, for infecting an innocent child for life with an incurable disease!) and asked (with no compulsion) to be tested for herpes (Eh?). The city will not release their names. Recklessly endangering a child's life carries a jail sentence, but now these people will justifiably believe they are above the law.

Details here and here

Thanks to Tom for the story.

28th March, 2017. Circumcision in Papua New Guinea

Push to boost rates

Papua New Guinea has the highest HIV incidence of any country in Oceania, and health authorities are urging an increase in circumcision rates. Over half of the population practice traditional circumcision, most with a simple dorsal slit, but some with a full circumcision (see our PNG page). Epidemiological evidence suggests that this does protect against AIDS, but the push is on to get the whole male population done, preferably with a full circumcision. Read the story in this item from Radio New Zealand.

Thanks to Mark P. for the link.

18th March, 2017. Updates

Status updates on recent items

March 10th. Ultra-orthodox Jewish mohelim in New York infecting infants with herpes. It is now confirmed that in spite of the deal struck two years ago the Ultra-Orthodox community has done nothing about conducting health checks! City authorities are now promising a clamp-down but no details as yet. Read it in the New York Post.

March 2nd. #ZwakalaSkeem Day was a success, with 2,000 men taking advantage of a free circumcision. Actor Kagiso Modupe, who launched the nationwide campaign, was naturally done, with full support of his wife. Read about it in The Citizen or the S.A. Times.

Thanks to Tom for these links.

10th March, 2017. Babies infected by mohels

Barbaric ancient practice spreads herpes virus

Ultra-orthodox Jewish mohelim in New York are insisting on carrying out the rite of metzitzah in which the mohel sucks blood from the baby's penis after the cut. This has led to several cases of babies being infected with the herpes virus. Herpes is a very severe infection in babies since the immune system is not fully developed, and often causes permanent brain damage.

Two years age New York relaxed restrictions on the practice in exchange for a undertaking from the Ultra-Orthodox community to carry out health checks on mohels. As the latest horror story shows, they didn't keep their side of the bargain. The story has been in several papers - here is the report from The Independent.

Thanks to Tom for this story.

9th March, 2017. How can you improve your sex life?

Get circumcised, according the the Sun

The Sun, a British tabloid newspaper, reports very enthusiastically on a study carried out at the University of Chicago. 362 men were followed up after their circumcision - 94% were very satisfied, two thirds said their sex lives improved, 75% said their partners preferred it, and coital injuries were significantly reduced.

The Sun used this information to enthusiastically recommend the cut. The newspaper has a huge readership so maybe we'll see a rush for the op in Britain. Read the story here, or the Daily Mail version here.

Thanks to Tom and Mark for this story.

Update Thanks to Brian Morris we now know that this study was actually carried out in the Dominican Republic. Read the original paper here.

2nd March, 2017. Free circumcisions Saturday week!

Famous South African actor is getting done, and urges others to follow.

Actor Kagiso Modupe is getting medically circumcised at the age of 33 on March 11. He said in a press release, "I would like South African men to join me in a celebration of masculinity, brotherhood and good health. I'm calling on men to be circumcised with me on Saturday, 11 March 2017. There are 200 clinics involved in #ZwakalaSkeem day and it's absolutely free. Because it's a Saturday, men who work, won't need to take time off." #ZwakalaSkeem means 'come with me, brother'.

More details, including a phone number for South African readers, at News 24

Thanks to South African reader EK for this story, which has apparently created a bit of a stir in South Africa.

1st March, 2017. Patrick Stewart thought he was circumcised

His mother told him so.

Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard, Professor X) appeared on the British TV programme 'The Graham Norton Show' on February 24th, along with Australian actor Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), to celebrate the end of their participation in the X-Men movie series with the film 'Logan'. Somehow (I haven't seen the show and I do find it weird) the conversation got round to circumcision and Patrick Stewart revealed that he had gone through life thinking he was circumcised until his wife told he wasn't. Apparently his mother had told him he was, and that it was the normal thing when he was born (some truth in the latter part). He's had three wives and it was the third one who enlightened him!

So how can it be that he didn't find out at school? He came from a poor family, and attended state primary and secondary modern schools. (Secondary Modern schools were the lower level of the two-tier selective state education system at that time.) That means that circumcised boys would have been in the minority. My hypothesis is that his foreskin was forcibly retracted and dilated when he was a baby. This was also common at the time and led to a loose foreskin which, even before puberty, only half covered the glans. It wasn't too much different from a 'partial' circumcision. (I've seen both in my English schooldays). So, in a predominantly uncircumcised milieu, he passed as circumcised. Maybe his mother didn't even realise that what was done to him wasn't circumcision.

You can read all about it at The Evening Standard newspaper. So what of Hugh Jackman? Born Australia 1968 - circumcised for sure.

Thanks to Tom for this story.

Addendum, March 10th. The relevant part of the show is now on Facebook. Thanks to AM for the link.

28th February, 2017. Accucirc wins!

What device would be best for early infant male circumcision in east and southern Africa?

A group of practioners in the field were asked 'What would be the best device for mass routine infant circumcision?' Many favoured the Mogen clamp if they were performing the operation themlelves, but felt it needed too much skill for less-trained paramedics. For them, Accucirc won easily as the safest device, and the simplest to use. Prepex also had some supporters, but only if used with an injected local anaesthetic, not just topical EMLA cream. The study was published in the prestigious journal PlosOne, open access, and you can read it here. For details of the devices mentioned, check out our Instruments and Techniques page.

Thanks to Brian Morris for the information.

11th February, 2017. New study in the news

Major Australian review paper in International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics

A new paper by Brian Morris and many co-authors: "Early infant male circumcision: Systematic review, risk-benefit analysis, and progress in policy" appeared in the International Journal of Clinical Pediatrics on February 8th. The paper is open access and you can download or read it here. It attracted immediate media attention, appearing in the site on February 8th in both the Lifestyle and Breaking News sections. Both reports were broadly sympathetic. It also got a sympathetic write-up in the UK Daily Mail and a less sympathetic treatment in The Guardian (Australian edition).

Some of these stories make the incorrect claim that 'cosmetic' (i.e. prophylactic) circumcision is banned in public hospitals in Australia. This is nonsense - it is just no longer free to public patients. You can still get it done as a private patient in a public hospital, and Medicare, the Australian universal health insurance system, will pay part of the cost.

Thanks to Tom and Roger for the news links and Brian Morris for the link to the paper.

2nd February, 2017. Margaret Thatcher was in favour of circumcision

She had son Mark done

Regular correspondent AM has dug up an interesting story from 2013. The late Baroness Thatcher, UK hard-right Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990, appointed Charles Moore, editor of the conservative British newspaper 'The Daily Telegraph' as her authorised biographer. Given full access to her papers he found a lot of stuff that had not previously been made public, and to her credit she didn't redact anything. This included a letter in which she said she was going to ask Dr Robert Henderson, a former boyfriend, to recommend a private surgeon to have baby son Mark circumcised because she did not want to use the NHS (National Health Service, the universal health insurance system in the UK). (I didn't think the NHS would do routine circs, anyway. Ed.)

The story is in the Evening Standard newspaper, 23 April 2013.

29th January, 2017. Antibiotics in circumcision

Do they do any good - or any harm?

It has become common in minor surgery to use antibiotics as a preventative measure against infection of the operation site. This practice is widely criticised as encouraging the spread of antibiotic resistance. Now a recent large-scale survey of routine infant circumcisions, published in the Journal of Pediatric Urology, has shown that antibiotic use has no significant effect in preventing infections, but does have a small but significant risk of causing allergic reactions to the antibiotic. This suggests that antibiotics should not be used in RIC.

Read the story here.

Thanks to Brian Morris for the story.

24th January, 2017. Nurses to circumcise in the US

Wisconsin hospital introduces cost-saving procedure

The Mayo-Franciscan Hospital in Lacrosse, WI has started training neonatal nurses to perfom circumcision on baby boys. This is a first for the US, though of course it happens all the time in Africa. Dr. Dennis Costakos, neonatology chairman at Mayo Clinic Health System-Franciscan Healthcare, suggests that the move can save money, free up physicians' time, and allow mothers and babies earlier discharge from hospital, since neonatal nurses are always available while physicians are not.

Read the story here.

OK, Tom again!

15th January, 2017. Malaysia circumcision

Government lays down a "Standard operating procedure"

Following on a series of more or less serious accidents (some horrendous) the Malaysian government has set out a standard operating procedure for circumcision. This is obviously a welcome move but at this time it isn't clear how this affects circumcisions done with disposable devices such as the Tara Klamp and Sunathrone.

Read the story here.

Thanks yet one more time to tireless correspondent Tom for sending us the link.

1st January, 2017. Health insurance cover for circumcision

Netherlands insurer defends its policy

Zilveren Kruis (Silver Cross), the Netherlands' largest medical insurer, has defended its coverage of voluntary male circumcision against criticism from far-right groups that it is assisting the spread of Islam.

Read the story here.

Thanks once again to Tom for sending us the link.

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