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22nd June, 2019. Roundheads to rise again in England?

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.

15th June, 2019. Campaign to ban circumcision

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.

7th June, 2019. When the weird get going ...

... the art gets seriously weird.

Foreskin sculpture

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.

22nd May, 2019. Circumcision wagon hits the road

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.

21st May, 2019. Jewish woman escapes Muslim husband

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.

20th May, 2019. Mohel still going strong at 90

Holocaust survivor rabbi still performs circumcisions

Rabbi Cohn

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).

7th May, 2019. Academic news

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

25th April, 2019. Circumcision in Belgium

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.

25th April, 2019. Young Briton suicides in Canada

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.

22nd April, 2019. More on female circumcision in the US

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.

20th April, 2019. Where to get circumcised?

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.

25th March, 2019. Another tragedy in Italy

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.

20th March, 2019. Run for President of the USA on an anti-circumcision platform?

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.

Quotes are from the Daily Beast, where you can read the full story. There is a hilarious discussion about it on Vice which readers outside the US will find pretty hard to follow.

Thanks to Tom for the story.

24th February, 2019. Whose fault was it?

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.

9th February, 2019. Should all male MPs be circumcised?

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.

22nd January, 2019. Fill the gap in the liturgical 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.

21st January, 2019. Hebrew Dogs, anyone?

Wrap up your kosher sausage in a nice blanket.

Hebrew Dogs 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'!

11th January, 2019. Making replacement foreskins for circumcised men from ...

... 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.

1st January, 2019. When the circumcision rate reaches 180%, what do you say?

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.

1st January, 2019. Gomco or Mogen?

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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