We were elated with news on June 26 when a Cologne, Germany, regional  judge ruled that circumcision of a minor on grounds that it is religiously protected just doesn’t cut it.

Jews, Muslims and others are crying bloody murder. “But, but, we have always done it. It’s always been a part of our religion…”  So were a lot of other deleterious, crude and cruel practices since abandoned as we have become civilized and enlightened and strong enough to resist.

Yeah, sure. Religious rights.   Like allowing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of  Latter-day Saints to marry off their 14-year-old daughters to old men, or letting Christian Scientists withhold critical medical procedures to very  ill children. So is it legal for the government to say that Mormons cannot practice polygamy. So is it American law that Muslim families cannot have their daughters’ labia cut off to fulfill ancient customs.  Not to mention honoring killings to protect a family’s reputation.  Many of us are just tired of the injustices and suffering that take place because religious folks think they can justify it by history, tradition and custom.

The German judge determined, “The operation (circumcision) does serious bodily harm and only males old enough to consent to it freely should undergo it.” Circumcision of a minor should be considered physical assault, the judge wisely said.

In short, the judge said,  “The fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighs the fundamental rights of the parents.” The case that reached the court involved a 4-year-old Muslim boy who had to be taken to the hospital for bleeding two days after  his parents had him circumcised. The Cologne public prosecutor had brought  charges against the doctor.  A court initially ruled in the doctor’s favor but upon appeal it was decided the non-medical circumcision amounted to “serious and irreversible interference with physical integrity.”  Further, the judge said, the permanent physical alteration infringes on the child’s right to decide his beliefs for himself and that that should take precedence over parents’ perceived right  to give their child a “visible sign” of religious affiliation.  “The religious freedom of the parents and their right to educate their child would not be unacceptably compromised, if they were obliged to wait until the child could himself decide to be circumcised,” the court added.

This is yet another wake-up call for justice and medical ethics, especially in a part of the world way ahead of America in this area.

Circumcision is indefensible. Oh, if some adult male wants to forgo his foreskin, we are not going to block it, although we certainly will question his judgment. But, for crying out loud, no parents should be allowed to order circumcision on their children. They cannot get Johnny tattooed, so why should they be able to order the sexual assault that means irrreversible destruction of a protective, nerve-rich structure from their sons’ penises? It is medically unethical. It is perverse. It is repulsive. It is wrong.  The Convention on the Rights of the Child, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, both speak to protection of the youngest and most vulnerable.

In wake of the Cologne court action, we are sickened by the defenders’ sordid and woeful remarks. One of the most thoughtless pieces was written for Huffington Post -Canada by Sheryl Sapera.   She, like so many defenders of circumcision, don’t grasp the obvious: Parents have limits on what medical actions they can authorize. Ordering the excising of body parts, put there for a purpose of protection, sensitivity and sexual mechanics, goes way too far.   Sapera  gets hammered by readers’ comments, including mine.  One of them is a doctor, who notes that the mass circumcisions in Africa on the pretext they will curb AIDS are bogus:

“The African HIV studies are flawed, biased and actually show that about 1/2 the males did not contract HIV sexually. Therefore, the studies cannot be interpreted. All the males I know in the U.S. with HIV were circumcised. Meaningless and inaccurate reporting on your part above. Read the articles that discuss the problems with those studies. 2. I have personally witnessed and performed male circumcisions as a physician. It made me physically ill to watch those babies scream and try to get out of the restraints placed on them while physicians hacked away at their tiny penises. I could not take it anymore after residency and said enough of harming innocent children without their consent. Think how you would feel if someone grabbed you, stripped off your clothes, strapped you down while ignoring your cries and screams and proceeded to cut off part of your body. 3. The complication rate is 100% as all males lose the majority of fine touch nerves and lose the ability to have a normal sex life. Unpublished data shows that circumcised males all have some degree of curvature in their penises and their penises are smaller. This makes sense because the nerves, blood vessels and lymphatic vessels are disrupted. Up to 20% of circ males develop meatitis requiring further surgery to correct. A more accurate complication rate in the literature is 5-20% minimum. There are literally hundreds of complications listed in the medical literature.”

Circumcision is perverse, bizarre, destructive, intrusive, unsupportable and indefensible. It kills too often. It leaves lifelong damage.   International Coalition for General Integrity points to studies showing more than 100 minors die each year from circumcision or complications from it.

We are heartened by the continual drop in the rate of circumcision in the U.S., and we call on parents to check out such sites as intactamerica.org;  norcirc.org; cirp.orgdoctorsopposingricumcision.org; or In Memory of the Sexually Mutilated Child.

And we cannot forget the words of  our late friend, John A.  Erickson, a pioneer in raising public awareness to the insanity of circumcision:
“I waited for years for someone to say what I thought should be said. But no one did. So I started saying it myself.”  And John said it so well.  John would be elated by the German court. Now it is time for American courts to rule on behalf of young males and protect them from the needless cruelty and lifelong impact from the knives of doctors and the circumcision industry.

Advertisements