Intactivism News

July - December, 2018

To more recent news

And if the cutting rate is fake, the supposed effectiveness will also be fake

Standard Digital

December 29, 2018

Exposed: Mystery of Kenya’s ‘ghost circumcisions’

by Gatonye Gathura

Tens of thousands of ‘ghost circumcisions’ may have been reported in Kenya since 2008; costing donors a tidy amount of money.

A new evaluation report financed by the US Government, shows the much praised Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) in Kenya may have been built on falsified data.

The report published on December 18 shows data from the four core counties of Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori to have been highly inflated.

The report says there was suspected intentional inflation of data reporting by some implementing partners although the team did not locate the smoking gun.

“We did not get evidence confirming that VMMC data in Kenya were intentionally exaggerated,” the CDC-Nairobi office told the Saturday Standard in an email last week.

Justin Williams of CDC said they are however conducting a follow-up study to measure actual VMMC coverage in Kenya.

The evaluators in the current study had been presented with 320,000 records of circumcised males in the four counties for the period 2008-2016.

But after evaluation, the data in all the counties was found highly inflated. In Homa Bay County, data for 2016 showed coverage rates of up to 180 per cent.

“In Kisumu, Migori and Siaya, modeled estimates for 2016 were well over 100 per cent for all age groups,” says the report.

Yet despite the excessive coverage, the projects continued reporting high circumcision demand hence a requirement for more funding.

Worried over the puffed up data the study team, comprising USAID, US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention - Nairobi, Family Health International (FHI360) and the National AIDS and STIs Control Programme set to rationalise the data. They applied a four-point strategy which involved removing double reporting and recording migrants only in their home counties.

Others included shifting from UN population estimates to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics as the most appropriate.

Finally the team removed cases of traditional circumcisions from the VMMC programme registers.

“Even after addressing these issues, overestimation of 2016 male circumcision coverage estimates persisted, especially in Homa Bay.” For Homa Bay, the report tells of some “systematic source of the discrepancy.”

While the authors say they did not get evidence of deliberate over-reporting, some county management teams it says had noted discrepancies.


Kenya launched VMMC in 2008 as a critical component in HIV prevention. This was after studies demonstrated that circumcising sexually active men reduces their risk of acquiring HIV from their female partners during sex. [No, only ever a correlation between being cut and lower HIV rates.]


The second phase of the VMMC, which ends next year targets children between 0 to 60 days old, and adolescents aged 10 to 14. [When it's done to children that age, it's no longer voluntary, is it?] But with the current findings on data falsification the reported success may be in doubt. Williams said the ongoing Kenya Population-based HIV Impact Assessment (KENPHIA) will shine more light on VMMC coverage.

KENPHIA, launched in June is visiting 20,000 households nationally and is expected to rationalise previously controversial HIV data.

In March for example, data presented at a conference in Boston, US by CDC-Nairobi showed HIV prevalence rates in Nyanza to have been highly exaggerated.

TVM (Malta)

December 23, 2018

Italy: Two-year-old dies after circumcision, twin brother in serious condition

A two-year-old boy in Italy has died as a result of loss of blood following a circumcision carried out at his home, and his twin brother, who underwent the same procedure, is in a serious condition.

The case occurred in Monterotondo, and the procedure on the twins was allegedly carried out by a man who does not have a medical licence. Both the boys and the man are of Nigerian origin.

Emergency medical services were requested to assist when it became evident that the children’s condition had deteriorated, but in the case of one of the twins it was too late.

The man who performed the circumcisions is being interrogated and is expected to face charges of killing one child and grievously injuring another.


December 20, 2018

2 boys almost bled to death in botched circumcisions by Manitoba doctor

by Laura Glowacki

Dr. Ejaz Ahmad, now suspended, performed 18 circumcisions from June 2016 to July 2017

WARNING: This story contains graphic descriptions

Two boys almost bled to death from botched circumcisions performed by a now-suspended Winnipeg doctor.

Dr. Ejaz Ahmad pleaded guilty to professional misconduct on Oct. 15 for performing circumcisions on as many as 18 pediatric patients in 2016 and 2017, when he lacked the training and know-how to do the procedures.

Several of his young patients ended up in the emergency room with complications.


Among the complications, two boys were rushed to hospital with potentially life-threatening bleeds, one after a portion of his penis was amputated [A portion of the penis is always amputated] and the other with arterial bleeding.

Other boys experienced complications like swelling, pain, embedded gauze from improper wound care, possible infections and disfigurement.

At least one boy's penis was left so deformed he required a revision surgery.

...Along with malpractice, the college found Ahmad displayed several "multi-dimensional" professional shortcomings.

He neglected to warn parents about the risks of their surgeries, failed to create records and when families went to other doctors for help, he told them not to disclose who had carried out the surgeries.

... the Toronto children's hospital sees anywhere from zero to five boys per week with some type of complication arising from a circumcision, he said, including issues with healing or otherwise unexpected results.

In severe cases, he's seen some children die as a result of complications. Those instances are usually linked to arterial bleeding, he said.

...Ahmad was ordered to pay more than $24,400 to cover the costs of the investigation and inquiry.

He will be able to resume his practice on March 15, 2019.


December 18, 2018

Boy, 11, scarred for life after circumcision goes wrong

An 11-year-old boy had to undergo reattachment surgery after a portion of his private parts was cut off [a portion of the private parts is always cut off] by a medical officer during a mass circumcision event on Dec 8, Harian Metro reported.

However, the surgery’s success would only be known after doctors had carried out plastic surgery.

The boy’s 36-year-old mother ... said the medical officer did not tell her what really happened, and only said her son needed to go to Kuala Lumpur Hospital as he was bleeding.


The circumcision was carried out using the solehring method, which uses a transparent plastic device to [try to] prevent injury and complications.

The incident had affected her son’s emotions, and it was difficult for him to sleep due to the pain.

“He told me he regretted the circumcision, as if he could not accept what had happened – and this will probably leave deep scars into adulthood,” Rohani said.

Detroit News

December 12, 2018

Dawoodi Bohra women of Detroit speak up

We are writing today as business owners, lawyers, doctors, teachers and educated women from a range of professions. We are mothers, daughters, grandmothers, and aunts. Most importantly, we are women of the Dawoodi Bohra faith who have lived and worked for decades in the wonderful city of Detroit.

The recent court case of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, who has been wrongly accused of practicing FGM, has turned the media into a feeding frenzy of misinformation and outright falsehoods about our faith and our practice of khaftz — a harmless form of female circumcision that in no way can be defined as female genital mutilation.

To be clear, we members of the Bohra faith are proud and patriotic American citizens who obey every law of the land — even those with which we disagree. We firmly believe that a practice that is harmless, far less invasive than male circumcision, and much more akin to a body piercing should in no way be put in the same category as some more barbaric practices from around the world that we wholeheartedly condemn.

Since the case of Dr. Nagarwala began, there have been many stories characterizing our faith in untrue and salacious manners. As evidence of this bias, one local male reporter refused even to speak with us unless he was allowed to question Bohra woman about the personal, private and intimate details of our life experiences. The way this story is being portrayed in the media and the courts reeks of both religious intolerance and gender bigotry.

As a group, we want to set the record straight. No one in our Masjid has been told that they will be excommunicated from the faith if they speak out against the practice of female circumcision — or khafz, as we call this ritual. Nor are there consequences — neither religious nor social — for those women in the Bohra community who choose not to practice khafz. Crucially, none of us have ever experienced any long term negative effects — either physical or mental — from the practice.

This case has become far too politicized and brought much unpleasant scrutiny to our community.

We have opened our Masjid to other faith communities, our children joined in mourning with children of other faiths after the tragedy of 9/11, and we banded together with the rest of the city, state and nation to preach tolerance and love, which is a core of our Muslim faith.

We were happy living our lives as patriotic American women until all that changed with this political prosecution and the lies repeated by the media unwilling to even listen to our side.

All we ask of our fellow Michiganians is that they look honestly at the facts and not sensational headlines.

Tasneem Yunus Burhani, Mubaraka Tambawala, Farida Mustafa Hussain, Fatemah Hussain, and Shakera Bohra are women from Metro Detroit who are members of Dawoodi Bohra faith.

Detroit News

December 17, 2018

Female genital mutilation is heinous

We are all survivors of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) who take issue with last week's letter ("Dawoodi Bohra women of Detroit speak up," Dec. 13). Some of us grew up in the Dawoodi Bohra tradition such as yourselves, others are from Christian communities, animist communities, and a variety of faiths. Some of us were born in the United States and others have migrated here from other countries, and now call the United States our home.

We all challenge the harmful practice of female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) and recognize it to be a form of gender-based violence and harm to a child. We understand that it is called female circumcision or khafz/khatna in the Dawoodi Bohra community, but the bottom line is that anything to do with cutting the genitals of girls falls under the World Health Organization definition of female genital mutilation.

We, as survivors, have had our human rights violated, our bodily autonomy taken away, and been punished for our femininity, in that our sexual organs are altered due to misguided beliefs of controlling sexuality.

We ask that as survivors, you listen to each and every one of our stories, and stop dismissing the voices of women from your own community who have shared their experiences for no other reason than to inform you that khafz/khatna has hurt them -- whether that be through emotional, physical, or sexual pain.

As survivors, we recognize that each woman who has undergone FGM/C experiences it differently. If you have not suffered the harm in the way that we have, you are fortunate. The issue remains, however, that each one of us has been held down and/or drugged so a blade could be taken to our genitals and a part of us could be sliced away when we were little girls -- too young to give consent and fully realize the implication of the decision someone else made for our bodies.

Stop harming little girls in the name of tradition, culture, and religion. We all deserve to grow up fully intact with our bodily integrity. We believe that a future where FGM/C no longer occurs to young girls can become a reality in our lifetime, but we need you to acknowledge our pain, and prevent it from happening again.

A. Renee Bergstrom, Ed.D.

Farrah Dalal

Farhat Rangwalla

Umme Kulsoom Arif

Aisha Yusuf

Maryah Haidery

Durriyah Khorakiwala, PhD

Maryum Saifee

Severina Lemachokoti

Dr. Nafees Saifee, M.D.

Sarah Rangwala

Aissata Camara

Alifya Sulemanji

Rashida Rangwala

Naima Dido

Habiba Dida

Zehra Patwa

Mariya Taher, MSW, MFA

Leena Khandwala

Earlier story

A Voice For Men

November 30, 2018

Philip Davies delivers MGM bombshell!

by Elizabeth Hobson

After a scheduled “adjournment” in the main chamber of the House of Commons (home of the British Parliament) last week predictably failed to happen (it was the last item in a packed schedule and time ran out); Philip Davies managed to secure a lengthier debate, albeit in Westminster Hall rather than the main chamber yesterday (Thursday 29th November).

A highly exciting excerpt from the Hansard Record of Philip Davies’ [Conservative Member of Parliament for Shipley] opening address:

“I also want to touch on male circumcision: male genital mutilation. According to a barrister’s opinion, carrying out circumcision on males when there is no medical need—non-therapeutic circumcision—is a crime under the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, being at least actual bodily harm if not grievous bodily harm. In 1983, Lord Hailsham, the then Lord Chancellor, said of female genital mutilation: “in the case of a minor under the age of 16, there is no possibility that consent is any defence at all. A minor under the age of 16 is not able to consent to the commission upon her of a criminal assault. Neither parental consent nor the consent of the minor would be any defence at all, and if the parents did such a thing, or instigated such a thing or participated in such a thing, it would only render them liable to criminal penalties, too.”—[Official Report, House of Lords, 21 April 1983; Vol. 441, c. 677.]

When I put it to the Government in 2016 that female genital mutilation was already illegal before specific laws on the subject were introduced, they agreed that it was. When I then put to them the position regarding boys, they took a different line. They quoted Sir James Munby, who was the president of the Family Division of the High Court, in a case of January 2015: “Whereas it can never be reasonable parenting to inflict any form of FGM on a child, the position is quite different with male circumcision. Society and the law, including family law, are prepared to tolerate non-therapeutic male circumcision performed for religious or even for purely cultural or conventional reasons, while no longer being willing to tolerate FGM in any of its forms.”

As the former barrister who I mentioned earlier also said, it would require a parliamentary override for male circumcision to be legal, and that has never existed. No exemptions to the law of the land are permissible for religious or cultural reasons. The Ministry of Justice went on to say that there was no doubt that female genital mutilation could have a physical and psychological impact on women, and also said that some girls die as a result of the procedure, which is absolutely correct. I do not pretend to be an expert in this field, but I believe that boys have also been reported to have died following a circumcision, and I have seen accounts of the physical and psychological impact of circumcision on men.

I understand that the position of the NHS is that the risks associated with routine circumcision, such as infection and excessive bleeding, outweigh any potential benefits. I am mentioning all this because I believe it should be on the record, not least because of the very different approaches to male and female genital mutilation.

The Government said back in 2016 that they had no current plans to change the law in relation to male circumcision. Given everything I have said, there may be no need to change the law to bring about a change in male circumcisions. However, I would be particularly interested to hear from the Minister on that point.”

Now it’s on record! Thank you Philip Davies, your courage knows no limits.

Video of debate (starts at 15:00:45 with Philip Davies’s introduction, and his initial statement on MGM covers 15:11:10 – 15:14:30).

TVNZ (New Zealand)

November 21, 2018

Tongue-tie surgery on babies massively over-used and 'potentially dangerous'

by Karen Brown

A common practice of cutting tongue-tied babies is being labelled potentially dangerous, painful and frequently unnecessary.

The surgery is supposed to help babies who have trouble breastfeeding, but one senior doctor is questioning the evidence for that and says it's being massively over-used.

... a Wellington specialist anaesthetist, Graham Sharpe, said the procedure was over-diagnosed, particularly by midwives.

He has written to the Health Minister David Clark demanding that untrained people stopped performing the procedure.

"The evidence shows, including a major … study, that in most cases children - we're talking about small babies, a week or two old - having difficulty feeding. And doing what is essentially a surgical procedure on these children is unnecessary and potentially dangerous," Mr Sharpe said.

The study, published in March last year, said tongue-tie or ankyloglossia, is present in four to 11 percent of newborns, and cited as a cause of poor breastfeeding and maternal nipple pain. It concluded that tongue tie surgery reduced mothers' nipple pain in the short-term.

There was no figures on who conducted the procedure, but midwives, GPs, dentists and surgeons can.

Dr Sharpe is clear on who he thought should conduct the procedure.

"If a child that age needs a surgical procedure because of a tongue problem that needs to be done by a trained surgeon in an appropriate facility, not done by a midwife."

The comments follow a decision from a Deputy Health and Disability Commissioner recently after an eight-day-old baby needed emergency care for bleeding following a tongue-tie release by a midwife.

Sue Calvert, from the Midwifery Council, said there was no data that showed how many tongue tie[ surgerie]s were done.

"But of course we would want to ensure that anyone who was performing the procedure has the knowledge and the skills."

Asked if the tongue-tie procedure improved feeding if there's a problem, Dr Calvert said "anecdotally" it seemed to "but we don't know if it's a long-term resolution".

She added that the council "would welcome exploration of this procedure".

Family doctor Alex Lyudin said in research published in June that 445 tongue ties were done at one Dunedin GP practice in 2013.

He said along with how common it was, he was also surprised and worried that almost a quarter had complications. In one case scar tissue that had become a new tie.

"We don't know what the rates of the tongue-tie cuts are, we don't know the reasons why people present initially, we don't know the risks involved and we don't know the outcome... None of this stuff has been studied."

Christchurch neonatal paediatrician Bronwyn Dixon said tongue ties could indeed harm babies.

"Risks of bleeding, harming other structures under the tongue, causing the baby an oral aversion and pain and distress."

Dr Dixon said careful assessment and coordination in Canterbury reduced the rate of tongue ties from 13 percent in 2015 to three and a half percent.


[Infant male genital cutting is at residual levels in New Zealand, except among Polynesians, Muslims and Jews.]

The Detroit News

November 20, 2018

Genital mutilation ban ruled unconstitutional; judge drops charges against sect

by Robert Snell

Detroit — A federal judge Tuesday dismissed female genital mutilation charges against several doctors in the first criminal case of its kind nationwide, ruling the law is unconstitutional.

The opinion by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman comes two weeks after defense lawyers mounted the first challenge to a 22-year-old genital mutilation law that went unused until April 2017.

That's when Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville was arrested and accused of heading a conspiracy that lasted 12 years, involved seven other people and led to mutilating the genitalia of nine girls as part of a religious procedure practiced by some members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a Muslim sect from India that has a small community in Metro Detroit.

Friedman delivered a significant, but not fatal, blow to a novel criminal prosecution because the judge left intact conspiracy and obstruction charges that could send Nagarwala and three others to federal prison for decades.

The case is being closely followed by members of the sect and international human-rights groups opposed to female genital mutilation and has raised awareness in the U.S. of a controversial procedure and prompted Michigan to enact new state laws criminalizing female genital mutilation.

Friedman removed four defendants from the case — including three mothers accused of subjecting their daughters to female genital mutilation — while concluding Congress had no authority to enact a law criminalizing female genital mutilation, known as FGM.

“There is nothing commercial or economic about FGM,” Friedman wrote in a 28-page opinion. (Female genital mutilation) is not part of a larger market and it has no demonstrated effect on interstate commerce. The Commerce Clause does not permit Congress to regulate a crime of this nature.” ... [the report includes the complete judgement]

The order Wednesday could prompt Congress to tweak the federal law, said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor.

"Congress can solve this by going back and re-enacting the law," Henning said. “The problem is the law cannot be applied to conduct that happened before.”

Earlier story

RTÉ (Ireland)

November 16, 2018

Man to stand trial over 'crude circumcision' on 10-month-old baby

A 55-year-old man is to stand trial after a ten-month old baby boy needed hospital treatment after a "crude circumcision" carried out in the midlands three years ago.

Father-of-six, Philip Ogbewe, with an address at Green Lanes, Drogheda, Co Louth, allegedly used a surgical blade on the infant who then ended up being in hospital for two weeks.

Mr Ogbewe, who is originally from Nigeria but has been living in Ireland for 20 years, was refused bail after appearing before Judge John Coughlan at Dublin District Court.

He was charged with assault causing harm to the baby boy in a midlands town on a date in December 2015.

The infant would have died had it not been for the intervention of medical professionals, the court heard.

Mr Ogbewe has allegedly described himself 'Dr Philip', a "third generation circumciser" but has no medical training, the court was told.

Garda Sergeant Paul Carney said he arrested him in Drogheda yesterday and brought him to a garda station in the midlands to be charged.

After he was cautioned, he replied: "I am sorry I committed such an offence."


The baby needed a blood transfusion and medics had to "correct the bleed".

The assault charge can carry a maximum sentence of five years, but the court heard the Director of Public Prosecutions was considering further more serious charges.


Sergeant Carney said technical analysis of the phone identified 21 other appointments for circumcisions in Dublin, Meath and Offaly.


Kenyan Report

November 13, 2018

Girlfriend leaks info That Narok Driver is Uncut and Boda Boda Riders Force Knife on Him

by James Mulanda

Boda boda [motor/cycle-taxi] operators in Narok town yesterday forced a 35-year-old driver to undergo circumcision.

This after the news was leaked by his girlfriend to the operators.

The more than 50 operators picked the driver at his place of work and tried to take him to the Narok County Referral Hospital using a handcart but police intervened.

The man was forced to march round the town streets naked. He was taken to Narok river, where they dipped him in readiness to ‘face the knife’.

Some Sh10,000 was raised to help him undergo the initiation.

Police had to lob teargas to disperse residents and rescue him. They took him to the police station. The man took himself to the hospital for circumcision to avoid further humiliation.

The Detroit News

November 6, 2018

Defense tries to toss genital mutilation charges

by Robert Snell

Detroit — Defense lawyers tried to convince a federal judge Tuesday to dismiss female genital mutilation charges in the first criminal case of its kind nationwide, arguing the law is unconstitutional.

The bid by defense lawyers is the first challenge to a 22-year-old federal law that went unused until April 2017. That's when Dr. Jumana Nagarwala of Northville was arrested and accused of heading a conspiracy that lasted 12 years, involved seven people and led to mutilating the genitalia of nine girls as part of a religious procedure practiced by some members of the Dawoodi Bohra, a Muslim sect from India that has a small community in Metro Detroit.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, following an hour-long hearing in downtown Detroit, said he would file a written opinion soon.

Congress lacked authority to enact a law criminalizing female genital mutilation in 1996, Nagarwala's lawyer Molly Sylvia Blythe told the judge. Congress lacked authority under the Commerce Clause of the Constitution because the procedure has nothing to do with interstate commerce, she said.

"Mutilation is not an economic activity," she said. "It has nothing to do with commerce or an economic enterprise."  [Did Dr Nagarwala cut the girls for nothing? ]

Prosecutors countered, arguing the crime does involve interstate commerce. Christian Levesque, a trial attorney with the Justice Department's Human Rights and Special Prosecutions section, noted that the procedure involves parents using cellphones to arrange the procedure and children transported across state lines who undergo surgeries utilizing medical tools in state-licensed clinics.

"Female genital mutilation is part of a health-care service, an illicit health-care service, an illegal and detrimental health-care service," Levesque told the judge. "All forms of female genital mutilation are an economic service at its core."

The defense motion is the latest attempt to dismiss charges filed by federal prosecutors. In January, Friedman dismissed the most serious count against Nagarwala and co-defendant Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, a sex charge punishable by up to life in federal prison.

Prosecutors say prepubescent girls were cut at Attar's clinic in Livonia, which was managed by his wife, Dr. Farida Attar, who also is charged in the case.

A trial is set for April 2019.

Female genital mutilation is an internationally recognized violation of human rights.

Some members of the Dawoodi Bohra community who have spoken against the procedure said the surgery is performed to suppress female sexuality, reduce sexual pleasure and curb promiscuity, according to court records.

The procedure is most common in parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia, along with migrants from those regions, says the World Health Organization.

There are four major types of female genital mutilation, including a partial or total removal of the clitoris.

Prosecutors have alleged that two girls’ clitorises were completely removed but the evidence is lacking for at least one girl, Nagarwala's lawyer Shannon Smith said. [The original complaints did not refer to clitorises being removed: did Dr Nagarwala use different techniques on different girls?]

Worldwide, an estimated 140 million women and girls have undergone the procedure, according to the World Health Organization. More than 3 million girls in Africa undergo the procedure each year.

The procedure has been illegal in the U.S. since 1996, and there are no medical benefits for girls and women, according to the World Health Organization.

The judge heard arguments two months after prosecutors filed new charges in the case.

The new charges brought to a total of nine girls from three states who prosecutors say underwent the illegal procedure at a Attar's medical clinic in Livonia since 2015.

The case is being closely followed in India, where the Dawoodi Bohra are based, and by international human rights groups opposed to female genital mutilation.

Locally, most members of the sect belong to the Anjuman-e-Najmi mosque in Farmington Hills.

Leaders at the ... mosque ... are in charge of following orders from the Bohras’ spiritual leader in India.

The indictment filed in September refers to three girls prosecutors say underwent a procedure performed by Nagarwala at the Burhani Medical Clinic on Farmington Road in Livonia in 2015. The three girls are from Illinois and were born in 2007 and 2008.

The clinic was shuttered last year.

Farida Attar was accused in the indictment of giving one girl Valium that was ground up in liquid Tylenol.

Prosecutors say the girls — four from Michigan, two from Minnesota and three from Illinois — underwent female genital mutilation, but defense lawyers say the procedure performed on the girls was benign and not female genital mutilation. They accuse the government of overreaching.

The eight-count indictment added one new charge against Nagarwala: conspiracy to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. That charge is a 30-year felony.

The new charge accused Nagarwala of conspiring with others to bring two Minnesota girls to Metro Detroit to engage in illicit sexual conduct in early 2017.

Nagarwala is accused of mutilating the Minnesota girls on Feb. 3, 2017, at the clinic.

Earlier story


November 4, 2018

Alaska Makes History Twice By Electing Its First Openly Trans and Intersex Politicians

by Nico Lang

Alaska’s first two openly transgender elected officials took office this week after quietly making history in October.

Liz Lyke and Kathy Ottersten won election, respectively, to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly and the Fairbanks City Council. Lyke will serve on the FSNB for three years, while Ottersen will hold the position for a year.

Despite Alaska’s reputation as a conservative state, the races barely made headlines.

Lyke, 43, was profiled for the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner earlier this year, but the story focused just as much on her wrestling career as it did her identity as a trans woman. She wrestles for the Fairbanks Ladies of Wrestling (FLOW) as “Lizzesota Undying,” a tongue-in-cheek tribute to her home state of Minnesota.

Meanwhile, the limited coverage of Ottersten’s win didn’t mention the fact that the 52-year-old also is also intersex.

After Ottersten (who uses gender-neutral pronouns) began transitioning in their 20s, their doctors discovered scar tissue on their genitalia resulting from a surgery performed without the consent of Ottersten’s parents.

They told my parents I’d had excess skin that was removed during circumcision,” they told INTO over the phone.

What was difficult for Ottersten’s parents wasn’t that the person they had raised as their son was intersex but that the decision had been completely taken out of their hands. Ottersten described their mother as a “strong, powerful woman” who hiked up Machu Picchu in her 70s; she’s not used to not being in charge.

“It still gets to her,” Ottersten said. “It really does.”

Winning election makes Ottersten the first openly intersex politician in Alaska, as well as just one of a handful in the entire world. Last year Betsy Driver made history as the first known intersex official in the United States after she was elected mayor of Flemington, N.J.

Intersex people, whose sex characteristics are neither exclusively male nor female, represent up to 1.7 percent of the U.S. population.

...“In a year when we’re being used as a dog whistle, we’re saying: Not only are trans people and intersex people are part of our communities, but we can take it a step beyond that,” they claimed. “I think that’s a very hopeful place to be.”

NY Times

November 2, 2018

Mom claims doctor botched newborn son’s circumcision

by Priscilla DeGregory

A mother claims that her newborn son’s penis was partially amputated [as is usual] and then thrown away during a circumcision gone terribly wrong and it turns out this is the doctor’s second time allegedly screwing up the routine procedure, court papers reveal.

Sandra Albano’s son was circumcised at one-day-old on Sept. 21 at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, Long Island by Dr. Aaron Davidson, according to the Nassau County lawsuit filed on Thursday.

But Davidson and the hospital allegedly, “negligently amputated a significant portion of the penile glans extending into the urethra and then acted with carelessness and recklessness by throwing the amputated tissue into the hazard bin thus preventing it from being surgically reattached to the infant’s penis,” according to the court papers.

Further, Albano’s son, “will require one or more reconstructive surgeries and will suffer permanent and embarrassing disfiguring injuries,” the court documents say.

...Davidson was also sued in Nassau County in December 2016 by a parent of another child whose circumcision was also allegedly botched in 2013.

That case could proceed to jury trial on Nov. 15 if the parties don’t reach a settlement agreement first.

...[The father Zishan] Razzaq’s lawyer, Clifford S. Argintar, said in litigation, “What Dr. Davidson is saying is amputating a significant portion of the head of the penis is a risk of circumcisions and frankly it’s not.” [Oh yes it is!]


PML Daily (Uganda)

October 20, 2018

Museveni castigates circumcision as a[ ]way to prevent HIV/AIDS

by Bob Aine

MBARARA – As the president of Uganda Yoweri Museveni launched his presidential Fast- track initiative on ending HIV and AIDS in Uganda by 2030, he strongly criticized circumcision as a way to prevent contraction of HIV/AIDS but rather asked people to refrain themselves from having unprotected sex.

Museveni noted that Ugandans have failed to appreciate that AIDS does not spread like Ebola where you don’t have to greet the infected person, he says HIV spreads through one way of having unprotected sex with an infected person and that this is very easy to be avoided.

He said this while launching his initiative in south western Uganda and was held at Isingiro district headquarters where all representatives from 16 districts attended.

Museveni castigated the talk of circumcision in efforts to prevent and reducing transmission and contraction of HIV.

“I have always heard people and partners saying that when you are circumcised you don’t contract the virus, does your body become armoured simply because you are circumcised? That’s nonsense, if its preventive, how come those in the religion where they circumcise have the virus?, I think the message should [be to] avoid sex which is not protected.”

He said this has confused the masses, “before we started this campaign the HIV prevalence was at 18% then it dropped to 6% but when they started this talk of circumcision it confused the masses then it went up to now 7.3%, there is much laxity among the members of the public and that’s why we need to fast-track the awareness so that by 2030 there is no virus in Uganda.”

Museveni further said that after testing and then introduced to ARVs, that person can live longer suppress the viral load to the extent that the infected person but on ARVs can no longer transmit the virus.

However, he noted that the public should not celebrate that the government brought ARVs and they live careless lives. Museveni said that these ARVS also have a side effect on one’s health. He said that they can cause kidney failure, shrinking of the born [?] and can cause mumps.  [These are not side effects listed on official websites.] 

It should be noted that the presidential Fast-Track initiative has a 90-90-90 targets whereby they say at least 90% of all HIV positive persons identified through responsive HIV testing service, at least 90% of all identified HIV positive persons enrolled on ARVs and at least 90%of all persons on HIV treatment adhering to treatment in order to attain and sustain viral suppression.

It shows further that at least 1.4 millions of people in Uganda live with HIV of these 1,041,000 are enrolled in care and 980,954 are on ARV treatment.

Patrick Keihwa Besigye the chairman LCV for kabala who doubles as the vice chairman ULGA who spoke on behalf of all chairmen from 16 districts said that they have realized that the percentage of men who go for testing is still minimal as compared to women. He noted that so far 45% of men only go for testing and 90% of women go for testing which he said is still a big challenge.


27. Sep. 2018

Borgerforslag mod omskæring får grønt lys: Folketinget skal stemme

Forening forventer omskæringsforbud kommer på dagsordenen ved folketingsåbning.

af Mads Korsager Nielsen

Folketingets Lovsekretariat har netop indstillet, at borgerforslaget om indførelse af mindstealder for omskæring af raske børn kan fremsættes i folketingssalen.

Konklusionen lyder, at et eventuelt forbud mod omskæring af drenge under en bestemt alder er inden for grundlovens rammer. 

- Det er således muligt for lovgivningsmagten – hvis der måtte være et politisk ønske herom – inden for rammerne af grundlovens § 67 at indføre et forbud mod omskæring af drenge under en bestemt alder, skriver Folketingets Lovsekretariat i sin indstilling til borgerforslaget.

Glæde hos borgerforslagets skabere

Det grønne lys vækker glæde hos Intact Denmark - Foreningen mod Børneomskæring, der står bag borgerforslaget.

- Det er vi glade for. Det er et lille stykke danmarks- og verdenshistorie, at vi nu er klar til at tage dette skridt, siger Lena Nyhus, forkvinde for Intact Denmark - Foreningen mod Børneomskæring.

Vurdering i forhold til grundlov

Borgerforslaget blev fremsat i februar og opnåede i sommerens løb de påkrævede 50.000 støtter. Folketingets Administration besluttede, at forslagets forhold til grundlovens paragraf 67 om religionsfrihed krævede en nærmere vurdering.

En vurdering, der altså har resulteret i grønt lys til en afstemning i folketingssalen.

- Vi forventer, at beslutningsforslaget bliver fremsat i forbindelse med Folketingets åbningsuge i oktober og førstebehandlet i løbet af november, siger Lena Nyhus. 

Politiske ordførere skal fremsætte forslag

Som hovedregel er det politiske ordførere fra partier, der støtter ordningen om borgerforslag, der skal fremsætte forslaget. Ordningen er vedtaget af alle partier i Folketinget.

Både SF og Enhedslisten går ind for en mindstealder for omskæring af drenge. Intact Denmark ved endnu ikke, hvilket parti der skal fremføre borgerforslaget.

Bing translation

September 27, 2018

Citizens' proposals against circumcision are given the green light: Parliament must vote

Association expects the injunction to be on the agenda at the Parliament opening.

by Mads Korsager Nielsen

The Parliament secretariat has just set out that the citizens' proposal for the introduction of the minimum age for circumcision of healthy children can be made in the Folketing chamber.

The conclusion is that a possible ban on the circumcision of boys under a certain age is within the scope of the Constitution.

Parliament's legislative secretariat, in its recommendation, writes: 
"It is thus possible for the legislature – if there is a political wish to do so – to introduce, within the framework of section 67 of the Constitution, a ban on the circumcision of boys under a certain age."

Delight for the creators of the citizens ' proposal

The green light brings joy to the Intact Denmark Association against Child Circumcision, which is behind the citizens ' proposal.

"We are delighted. It is a small piece of Danish and world history that we are now ready to take this step," says Lena Nyhus, chairwoman of the Intact Denmark Association against Child Circumcision.

Assessment in relation to the Constitution

The citizens' proposal was made in February and achieved the required 50,000 votes support during the summer. The Parliamentary Administration decided that the proposal's relationship with paragraph 67 of the Constitution on religious freedom required a detailed assessment.

An assessment that has resulted in the green light for a vote in the Parliament chamber.

"We expect the resolution to be tabled in connection with Parliament's opening week  in October and first discussed during November," says Lena Nyhus.

Political rapporteurs must submit proposals

As a general rule, political rapporteurs from parties who support the citizens' proposal are to submit the proposal. The scheme is adopted by all parties in Parliament.

Both the Socialist People's Party and the Unity List advocate a minimum age for male genital mutilation. Intact Denmark does not yet know which party should bring forward the citizens' proposal.

Earlier story

But will this deter the others?


September 21, 2018

Family awarded millions after baby's botched circumcision | This is what they say happened

A Clayton County jury awarded the family of baby DJ over $30 million in damages after the baby endured severe bleeding and damage after a circumcision.

by LaTasha Givens

CLAYTON COUNTY, GA. -- A Clayton County jury has determined that the family of a baby who had a medical mishap [or rather, malpractice] during [and after] a circumcision should be awarded over $30 million in damages.

The attorney's family asked for $100 million.

In October 2013, baby DJ was given a circumcision surgery conducted by a midwife. According to the lawsuit, after the procedure was finished, the medical staff said the "very tip of the glans had been severed during circumcision." His family claims there was severe bleeding.

DJ's family filed a lawsuit against the Life Cycle Pediatrics, Life Cycle OB/GYN, and several people that were a part of the medical staff.

The family argued the newborn should have immediately undergone emergency surgery or a tissue transplant they said that didn't happen.

For nearly two weeks, lawyers for all seven defendants -- three clinics, three doctors and the midwife who performed the procedure -- argued their clients had a minimal role in the incident. They blamed a chain of miscommunication that led the doctors and clinic owners to believe the infant only had a small cut after the procedure -- not a life-changing injury.

The midwife and one of the doctors were found liable for DJ's injuries, but the jury had to decide how much money the family should be awarded for the medical mistake, based on how each of the seven defendants contributed to the situation.

Jurors used a questionnaire, answering yes or no to specific questions about whether or not each of the defendants met professional standards in how they addressed the mistake. Those responses helped determine the total amount awarded -- and how much each defendant should pay.

Today, jurors had to go back to the deliberation room because they determined Dr. Ann Siguion should pay 10 percent of the settlement, even though she was not originally found liable. Her attorneys argued it would be illegal to make her pay.

The jury returned a second time, finding Dr. Siguion was liable. Now, each defendant is responsible for covering a percentage of the $31 million dollars -- with the midwife paying 50 percent, one doctor paying 30 percent and the other two doctors paying 10 percent each.

Since the botched circumcision, DJ has had multiple surgeries but is unfortunately injured permanently. [All babies are injured permanently by infant male genital cutting.] The family's attorney said DJ will likely need more surgeries and other medical treatments in the future.
Earlier story

WSB Radio (Georgia, USA)

September 20, 2018

A Mother’s plea: Circumcision Gone Wrong

by Veronica Waters

WARNING: This story contains mature content that may not be suitable for all readers.

The mother of a boy who suffered a botched circumcision at a Riverdale clinic tells a Clayton County jury about the anguishing aftermath.

Stacie Willis contends she was never told a vital piece of information after the bloody procedure--that part of her 18-day-old baby boy's privates had been cut off. [Part of the baby boy's privates is always cut off in this operation. Denial that the foreskin is part is an aspect of how it continues]  At times during the trial she has cried listening to the testimony; the day the nurse midwife who performed the procedure talked about how the sliced-off tissue was kept in a refrigerator and then thrown away, she got up and walked out of the courtroom in tears.

She remembers the day in 2013 that she raced into the room where her infant son was “screaming and hollering” at Life Cycle OB/GYN. She had been in a room across the hall, waiting to see her OB/GYN, Dr. Brian Register.

“I see [medical assistant] Debbie Person standing there looking like she’s seen a ghost. I see [certified nurse midwife] Melissa Jones hovering over my son, squeezing his penis, looking like she was confused and didn’t know what was going on,” said Willis, bending forward and demonstrating the grip with both hands. She there was also “a bunch of bloody gauze” on the table.

She asked Jones what was happening, and Jones told her it was “just a little extra bleeding.”

Jones testified earlier that it took about 10 minutes of direct pressure and a number of silver nitrate sticks to stop the bleeding, which is atypical in a normal circumcision.

At Jones’s request, Willis ran to get Dr. Register, who looked over the scene and called the clinic owner, Anne Sigouin. Sigouin directed them to call D’s pediatrician, Dr. Abigail Kamishlian, who advised them to tell the mother to go home and come see her in the morning, but to go to the ER if the bleeding resumed.

The mother says she angrily made clear to Jones that she was taking the crying child to an emergency room anyway.

“Did anybody at Life Cycle during the time that you were there on October 21 ever tell you, ‘We have severed the end of the head of D’s penis?” asked plaintiff’s attorney M.J. Blakely.

“No,” she said.

She said they never even told her that the child’s organ was injured in any way. [Again, infant male genital cutting is itself an injury.]

While Jones testified that she thought keeping the tissue was the right thing to do in case anyone wanted it, neither she nor anyone told the mother that they had it—including when the woman declared that she was taking her son to the ER.

Willis said she was panicked and upset, but stopped at the front desk to re-book her follow-up appointment with Register. She ended up going to a branch of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, which is where she first learned that Baby D had an incomplete circumcision and a significant laceration to his glans—the rounded tip of the [cut] penis [the tip of the intact penis is the foreskin].

Willis admits in the days after she found out the tip of her son's privates had been cut off, she was furious with the nurse midwife and on a follow-up visit, lashed out at Jones in no uncertain terms when the woman said “hi” to her.

“I told her I would beat her [expletive] and drag her out of this clinic, get in my car and go home,” she testified.

Jurors paid close attention, with one man leaning forward on the edge of his seat.

She cried a bit as she detailed for the jury her son’s five surgeries to date, recalling that as he turned one year old and began talking, he could communicate more about what he felt.

“He just said, ‘Mommy, hurt,’” the mom said.

“How did you know that he was talking about his penis?” asked Blakely.

“Because he would point to it,” she said.

D’s mom described using various ointments and medicines on her son over the years. Some of the surgeries the boy has had addressed the look of his organ, as well as the function of the urethra, which was also cut. The mother has had to use a metal dilator to make sure that the pee hole was large enough for him to urinate normally. One surgery grafted tissue cut from the inside of his lip. It is so fast-healing, however, it has the side effect of frequent scabbing or crusting over, which the boy has learned how to pick off in order to efficiently use the bathroom.

Blakely pulled out a gigantic binder that holds D’s medical records and bills to date. They total more than $78,000.

Now almost five and with three brothers, Willis says D is starting to understand that he's different. The mother worries that as he grows up, his self-esteem will suffer and that this injury will consume him, she said.

“It’s hard,” she says. “I just wish sometimes I could just take his pain.”

On cross-examination, defense attorney Chip Benton questioned the mother about the proactive way she sought out doctors in several states for their opinions and interventions. For example, D’s first surgery was in January of 2014, although it had been recommended to her that he be five months old before that procedure.

Willis said that yes, she has been told that any future surgeries for her son would be years out.

‘I was horrified’

One of the doctors being sued is the boy’s physician, Dr. Kamishlian of Daffodil Pediatrics, who worked hard in her testimony to jurors to distance herself from the decision-making at the clinic.

Kamishlian insists that although she jotted down, "piece of glans severed," she didn't know it was a surgical emergency. She says she had no reason to distrust Jones, the health care provider on the other end of the the phone, and that Jones told her there had been some bleeding that was now under control.

“She said she severed a small piece of the glans, and at that point I was thinking, ‘Well, severed, cut off.’ I was not thinking amputation—no big chunk going off,” she testified. “And then thankfully, the next sentence was, “But everything—you know there was bleeding with the silver nitrate; it was tiny, minor, insignificant and everything’s under control.”

Pressed on why she didn’t ask questions or have the boy sent to emergent [sic] care, Kamishlian reiterated that she has worked with many nurse midwives over the years, that they are competent and licensed and she considered the person on the other end of the phone the expert and relied on her for information.

Asked how she felt at the news that a piece of the glans had been cut off, though, Kamishlian replied, “I was horrified.”

Still, Kamishlian insisted to plaintiff’s attorney Neal Pope, who hammered her on why the words “severed glans” did not trigger her emergency alarm, she did not believe she should’ve asked any other questions. Out-of-control bleeding would have been an emergency, she says—but Jones told her the bleeding had stopped.

“It would be nice if I had the hindsight, right, if I could tell exactly what was behind her words. But no, you take what you get,” she said.

Earlier story

Daily Guide (Africa)

September 13, 2018

Boy, 6, Loses Penis To Bad Circumcision

by A R Gomda

Six-year-old Maruf Mohammed has lost his penis to a bad traditional barber or ‘wanzam’ in Accra Newtown [Ghana].

He now needs over a $100,000 to undergo a complex surgical procedure in the US for a penis reconstruction, his father told DAILY GUIDE when he came to the office of the newspaper with the pathetic story last Tuesday.

According to the father, now unemployed, the traditional barber who also doubles as circumcision specialist performed the procedure on the boy a few days after his birth but something went wrong. The boy bled profusely after the ‘wanzam’ cut too deep and high leaving the penis hanging by a thin strand of skin.

“When we got to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital the penis had fallen off. The doctors did very well undertaking a surgical procedure to allow the boy to be able to urinate. It did not take long for the opening to seal up after healing. Another surgery was performed but the hole sealed up again and then another surgery followed this time the surgeons used a part of the skin from his mouth for the procedure,” he narrated.

The ‘wanzam’ did not visit us at the hospital and even though he was arrested, “I asked that he be released. After all the deed had already been committed.”

With no penis, the boy now urinates through the opening constructed by surgeons at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital.

A Ghanaian domiciled in the US, upon seeing the small boy, linked his father with the Presbyterian Hospital in New York to construct a penis for the boy.

Until that is done, it does not look like little Maruf would be able to have sexual intercourse. The New York Presbyterian Hospital, in a letter to Maruf Mohammed, put the total cost of the treatment at $105,730.33.

A letter dated February 23, 2018 and signed by Dr. William Appeadu-Mensah, a consultant paediatric surgeon and urologist, reads: “Maruf Mohammed aged 6 presented to the Paediatric Surgery Unit of the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital following partial amputation of the penis after circumcision. Meatonomy [sic meatotomy] was done to help prevent stenosis of the meatus. Later, in May 2017 a buccal mucosal graft was applied to the tip of the glans to help improve cosmesis. Nothing can however be done presently in this centre. Any assistance to help them achieve better result in any centre worldwide will be appreciated.”

The distraught father has asked that those who can support his little boy should call his number: 0243585893.

CDC policy

September 5, 2018

After 3 years, CDC doubles down on recommendations

by Hugh Young

In December 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC) issued a draft policy on male genital cutting ("circumcision"), that leaned towards recommending that babies be cut. More than 3000 public submissions were sent in reply, most of them critical.

Now, after three years, the CDC has issued a summary of the replies and its responses. They are highly defensive of the original policy, often resorting to logical fallacies and weasel-wording to maintain the CDC's pro-cutting stance. The many responses detailing the ethical objections to infant male genital cutting are glossed over. An annotated version of the summary of the replied and responses (pdf) is here. The policy seems to have been silently adopted by the CDC.

All that cutting didn't help...


August 28, 2018

Rates of three STDs in US reach record high, CDC says

by Jacqueline Howard

(CNN)Rates of syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia have climbed for the fourth consecutive year in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Tuesday at the National STD Prevention Conference in Washington.

Last year, nearly 2.3 million US cases of these sexually transmitted diseases were diagnosed, according to preliminary data.

That's the highest number ever reported nationwide, breaking the record set in 2016 by more than 200,000 cases, according to the CDC.

"It is time that President Trump and [Health and Human Services] Secretary [Alex] Azar declare STDs in America a public health crisis," David Harvey, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, which co-hosted the conference said Tuesday.


Rob Stephenson, a professor and director of the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said that "it's not a surprising trend."

"I think over the last five years, we've seen a rapid increase in the prevalence of sexually transmitted infections in the US, and we're also starting to see a plateau in our fight against the HIV epidemic, as well," said Stephenson, who was not involved in the new CDC research.

In 2013, there were 1,752,285 total cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis diagnosed in the United States. That number grew to 1,811,850 in 2014; 1,945,746 in 2015; 2,094,682 in 2016; and 2,294,821 in 2017, according to the preliminary CDC data.

"We're talking about millions of infections with just these three infections," said Dr. Edward Hook, endowed professor of infectious disease translational research at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Medicine and scientific committee chair of the National STD Prevention Conference.


"Gonorrhea diagnoses that were reported to the CDC increased by nearly 67%. Diagnoses of primary and secondary syphilis increased over 75%, and chlamydia rates continued to increase," he said. ...

"We know today that some of what is driving congenital syphilis are women who are trading sex for drugs and that that explains some of the infections we are seeing in babies of syphilis," Harvey said Tuesday. "There are infectious disease consequences of the opioid epidemic in America, including sexually transmitted infections," he said.


All in all, "we are sliding backward," Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of the CDC's National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, said in a news release about the new numbers of reported cases. 

"It is evident the systems that identify, treat, and ultimately prevent STDs are strained to near-breaking point," he said. 


The University of Michigan's Stephenson said that prevention is key to reducing the number of new STD cases -- such as practicing safe sex and getting tested regularly. [No mention of cutting parts off genitals.]


Two down, one to go...


August 28, 2018

California becomes first state to condemn intersex surgeries on children

by Susan Miller

California on Tuesday became the first state in the nation to condemn unnecessary surgeries on intersex children. The Legislature passed a resolution demanding the medical community halt nonconsensual medical procedures that try to cosmetically "normalize" variations in intersex children's sex characteristics.

The resolution, which calls the practice a human rights violation, is a landmark moment for the intersex community, advocates say. "It means for the very first time a U.S. legislative body has affirmatively recognized that intersex children deserve dignity and the right to make decisions about their own bodies – just like everyone else," [except normal males]  Kimberly Zieselman, executive director of interACT Advocates for Intersex Youth, told USA TODAY. Intersex individuals are born with sex characteristics such as genitals or chromosomes that do not fit the typical definitions of male or female. Up to 1.7 percent of the population is born with intersex traits, according to the United Nations, a figure roughly equivalent to the number of redheads.

Being intersex relates to biological sex characteristics. It is not the same as transgender: Someone whose gender identity – how they feel inside – does not correspond with their birth sex. An intersex individual can be straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual [or rather, can be attracted to men, women, both or neither].

Surgeries on intersex youths, such as clitoral reductions or vaginal reconstruction, are often framed as "social emergencies" interACT says, but are irreversible, physically damaging, emotionally wrenching – and medically unnecessary.


Performing these types of surgeries, which have been taking place since the 1960s, without a child's consent violates their rights, says Alesdair Ittelson, director of law and policy for interACT. The procedures have been rebuked by numerous human rights and medical groups worldwide from Amnesty International to the World Health Organization. 

"We don't condone female genital mutilation, nor should we condone the medically unnecessary, deeply harmful interventions like clitoral reductions and sterilizations that constitute intersex genital mutilation," Ittelson said. "This is an issue that transcends party lines because it is easy to understand the basic humanity of these vulnerable children." 


California's legislative action is another critical step in breaking the taboo and sends a clear message, advocates say. "California's intersex community is part of our state's diversity and should be embraced," said Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, who sponsored the resolution.

Evening Standard (London)

August 17, 2018

Girl, 3, 'needed emergency surgery after FGM in London'

Awaiting syndication permission

So  much for "voluntary"...

The Standard (Kenya)

August 17, 2018

2 boys in hospital after being 'cut' as parents protest

by Mactilda Mbenywe and Harold Odhiambo

[picture] Alvin Otieno, 11, recuperates at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospital in Kisumu on August 15,2018 after they were admitted with severe penile mutilation caused by circumcision. He is waiting for skin grafting to heal.

Two pupils have been seriously injured in surgeries allegedly funded by non-governmental organisations.

The boys are admitted to Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital.

There have been reports that some NGOs are luring young boys to go for circumcision without informing their parents.

One of the boys, aged 10, cannot pass urine and has been fitted with a catheter. The second one, aged 11, is still bleeding.

The 10-year-old claimed that three men picked him up and three other boys on Monday from a playground in Ahero, promising them gifts if they agreed to be circumcised.

He said the strangers drove them to a nearby hospital for the minor operation.

“I did not know what it was all about, but we were convinced that it was good for us,” he said.

Developed complications

He claimed that at the sub-county hospital, the four were taken to the theatre one at a time. Three of them had successful operations and were taken home, but he developed complications and was referred to Jaramogi hospital. His parents claimed they did not known what was happening until they received a call from the hospital.

“We were shocked to receive a call from the hospital in the evening that our son had been admitted after being circumcised,” said the boy's mother. The parents found their son sharing a bed with another boy who had been circumcised three weeks ago.

“The glands had been affected and there was also pelvic tenderness, but he is in a stable condition,” said Jennifer Apiyo, a nurse.

The second boy's father said he was present when his son was circumcised in school and that the NGO's officials escorted them home in an ambulance. But the boy started bleeding and complaining of severe abdominal pain.

“When the situation worsened, I tried in vain to get the contacts of the staff who administered the procedure.

"One of the nurses who did the surgery disconnected my call and sent me a text message that he was busy. He has been avoiding me since,” the father said.


Business Day (South Africa)

August 14, 2018

Medical male circumcision: is the HIV prevention claim wrong?

A study has found that medically circumcised older men in Mpumalanga have a higher rate of HIV than uncircumcised men

by Katharine Child

Circumcision is a proven intervention that reduces the chance of contracting HIV by 60%, but to scientists’ surprise [and to the surprise of no Intactivists, who have been finding fault with that "proof" from the outset], a study has found that medically circumcised older men in Mpumalanga had a higher rate of HIV than uncircumcised men.

The findings appear to suggest that it needs to be communicated to both men and women that circumcision does not offer 100% protection against HIV. [Um, wasn't it absolutely vital to give this the greatest possible emphasis from the very outset?]

The study, published in the PLOS ONE journal on August 1, was conducted by Indiana University professors Molly Rosenberg and Till Barnighausen from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, together with professors Kathleen Kahn and Stephen Tollman from the Wits Rural Health in Transition and Agincourt Research Unit.

The researchers surveyed about 2,345 Mpumalanga men, who were 40 years and older.

Men who reported being circumcised in hospital through voluntary medical male circumcision when older had an HIV prevalence rate of 31%, meaning that almost one in three men were positive. [The article fails ever to give the HIV rate for the intact men:  24%, less than one in four.]

Rosenberg and Barnighausen say it is important to note that circumcision still works to reduce the risk of contracting HIV, with more than 27 studies showing this. [This claim is open to doubt. Followup studies have very largely been conducted by people involved in the earlier studies or committed to the "cutting is preventative" claim. ]

Three independently conducted randomised controlled studies previously showed circumcision reduces the risk of HIV by 60% [No, by UP TO 60% - the same weasel wording used to boost price-reductions at sales - and only the risk of female-to-male transmission, while other studies show cutting men increases the risk to women]. Two had to be stopped early as circumcision worked so well to reduce the chance of catching HIV, it became unethical not to offer circumcision to the men who were not getting it in the trials.  [Yet the three trials were not contemporaneous - 2005, 2007, 2007. If the first was such a howling success, how was it ethical to hold the other two?]

What is wrong with the three trials again?

The three studies claiming to show protection were
  • not placebo-controlled (a dummy operation would have subjected the control [intact] men to a much more similar experience to the experimental [cut] men)
  • not double-blinded (perforce, but it is still a confounding factor)
  • differentially begun: the intact control group were allowed to begin sex immediately, the cut experimental group told to wait six weeks for their wounds to heal, or to use condoms
  • prematurely curtailed (this is known to increase falsely positive results)
  • of paid volunteers: this introduces selection bias; the men were not a random sample of the community
  • of 64 cut men who got HIV, 73 fewer than the intact control groups, less than two years after 5,400 men were cut. Several times that number - 703 - dropped out, their HIV status unknown
  • without contact tracing, so we have no idea how those men got HIV. Of course they denied having any same-sex encounters but, in Uganda especially, admitting to them can mean death, so they would, wouldn't they?

In 10 out of 18 countries for which USAID has figures, more of the CUT men had HIV than the intact men. In Zimbabwe that is true both before and after the cutting campaign began.

However, in this latest study, the result was the opposite to what was expected by researchers. Men who reported being circumcised in hospital through voluntary medical male circumcision when older had an HIV prevalence rate of 31%, meaning that almost one in three men were positive.

There are three possible theories for the counterintuitive finding, Rosenberg and Barnighausen explained.  [No, four theories, and it is not "intuitive" that cutting protects against HIV. The first theory that should be considered is that the earlier studies were wrong and cutting is not actually effective.]

The first of their three theories is that HIV positive men are opting for circumcision at higher rates.

This may be because they may already be going to clinics and getting antiretrovirals, and then make use of other services available at the clinic.

The second theory is that men who are at higher risk of contracting HIV because they have many sexual partners or do not like using condoms, opt for circumcision because they think it is a safe solution.

However, they then still get HIV from unprotected sex.

It could also be, still in accordance with the second theory, that men engage in riskier sexual behaviour after circumcision because they know [no, think] they are at decreased risk.

However, the researchers say the second theory is probably the least likely explanation because multiple studies have showed no evidence for this kind of risk compensation after medical male circumcision. [Assuming that men tell the truth about their behaviour There is ample anecdotal evidence that cut men do think they are immune and that they can dispense with condoms.]

Prof Francois Venter, deputy director of the Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, said if men are taking greater sexual risks after circumcision, communication about it needs to change.

"This well-conducted study should make us carefully look at our messaging around circumcision, so that we don’t lose some of the impact of this effective intervention."

The third theory is that HIV-positive men are more likely to get circumcised. The study says government policy that HIV-negative men must get circumcised and awareness about its protective effects "gives the false impression that circumcised men are safer sex partners".

The study says: "If HIV-positive men actually take up the circumcision procedure at high rates … [and are seen by women as safer], it may have the unintended consequence of increasing HIV transmission."

The study also found that uncircumcised men 40 years and older in Mpumalanga showed an HIV prevalence rate of 24%, meaning one in four men above 40 was HIV positive.

Those circumcised through initiation while they were young, had a prevalence of 16%, showing that getting circumcised younger really does reduce the risk of HIV. [No it could equally mean that initiation changes behaviour - that is the reason it is done.]

Rosenberg said: "With the survey data we collected for this study, we unfortunately do not have the ability to tease out the different likelihoods of each of these explanations."

That men could be lying about being circumcised as some cultures perceive this to mean they are still "boys", was rejected by the researchers.

Rosenberg wrote: "In our study population of over 2,000 men, only a quarter reported being circumcised, which is actually lower than the national estimate of circumcision rates. So any social desirability bias potentially distorting our findings is unlikely to be very large."

Rosenberg said she did not believe the study would weaken plans to circumcise another two million South African boys and men by 2020.

"We strongly support universal circumcision of all HIV-men in SA [So much for "voluntary"!], because it is known with certainty that circumcision biologically protects against HIV — based on three large well-conducted randomised controlled trials."

Venter said: "SA has been relatively successful at rolling out medical male circumcision, and it probably is contributing to the 44% drop in new HIV infections in the last five years as [has been] reported by the Human Sciences Research Council a few weeks ago." [Or the safe-sex education campaigns accompanying the cutting campaigns have been effective. Genital cutting is the Magic Nail in Nail Soup.]

Arutz Sheva | Israel International News

August 13, 2018

Denmark won't ban [age-restrict] circumcision

Danish Health Minister Norby says government will have no hand in banning [age-restricting] circumcision, emphasizes close contact with Jewish community.

by Haim Lev

Danish Health Minister Ellen Trane Norby on Sunday said that the Danish government would work to combat a bill proposing to ban [age-restrict] circumcision in the country.

Earlier this year, a petition calling for a ban [age-restriction] on male circumcision in Denmark went to parliament after organizers amassed more than the 50,000 signatures required to bring it to a vote.

In a letter to European Jewish Association Chairman Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Norby wrote, "The Danish government is in close contact with the Danish Jewish community regarding this issue, and will remain that way. You can be sure that the Jewish community's perspective is known to the government."

She also noted that there are other aspects to circumcision as well, such as the child's welfare and health [and his human rights, which is why it should be delayed until the person himself can and does give his own informed adult consent]. The current government, she emphasized, will have no hand in banning the ancient Jewish tradition.

Rabbi Margolin has worked to prevent circumcision bans [age-restrictions] from passing in Denmark, Norway, Germany and other European Union member states.

Earlier story

Now "countless" girls cut

Detroit Free PRess

August 6, 2018

Doctor in genital mutilation case at war with feds

by Tresa Baldas

The doctor at the center of a historic genital mutilation case has another favor she's asking of the judge: let me use the Internet.

This, on top of — please dismiss more charges against me.

..."[Dr. Jumana Nagarwala] is charged with participating in a 12-year conspiracy to perform FGM on countless 7-year-old girls. ... (She's) the most culpable individual on an eight-person indictment," Assistant U.S. Attorney Sara Woodward wrote in a Friday court filing. "Whether (she) visited other websites or accessed the internet for other purposes would be impossible to know."

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will hold a hearing on Tuesday to decide the issue. Next month, he'll conduct another hearing to decide an even bigger issue: whether to dismiss the actual genital mutilation charges against Nagarwala and her two codefendants: Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, who is accused of letting Nagarwala use his Livonia clinic to perform the procedures, and his wife Farida Attar, who allegedly held the girls' hands during the procedures.

The defendants are challenging the 22-year-old federal law that criminalizes female genital mutilation, which has never been used before this case. The statute states: "Whoever knowingly circumcises, excises or infibulates the whole or any part of the labia majora or labia minora or clitoris of another person" under the age of 18 shall be fined or imprisoned for up to five years, or both.

Prosecutors argue Nagarwala did exactly that — with the help of the Attars — when she cut the genitals of two 7-year-old Minnesota girls who were tricked into the procedure in 2017 by their mothers and cried and bled afterward. Though prosecutors cite six victims in the indictment, including four Michigan girls, they allege Nagarwala may have subjected up to 100 girls to the procedure over a 12-year period.

Nagarwala has maintained she committed no crime, but that she engaged in a religious ritual that involved only a "shaving" or a "nick" of the genitals.

Moreover, she now claims she's being prosecuted under a law that “Congress lacked authority to enact ... thus the female genital mutilation charges must be dismissed.”

“The law was never debated on the floor of either chamber of Congress nor was there ever any legislative hearing addressing the justification or need for the federal law. Instead, all that exists is the criminal statute itself,” defense lawyers wrote in the July 27 filing, claiming the driving force behind the legislation was one lawmaker's belief that the prohibited conduct was 'repulsive and cruel.' "

But the Constitution demands more than that, the defense states, arguing Congress could not have passed a female genital mutilation ban under the Commerce Clause because "notably, here, the activity being regulated has absolutely no effect on interstate commerce."

While the indictment mentions six victims — two from Minnesota, four from Michigan — prosecutors allege Nagarwala subjected up to 100 girls to female genital cutting procedures during a 12-year conspiracy.

If convicted, Nagarwala and the Attars each face up to five years in prison on the female genital mutilation and conspiracy charges. They also face up to 20 years in prison on obstruction of justice charges, if convicted.

The most serious charge against the two doctors — conspiracy to transport a minor "with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity" — was dismissed in January. Judge Friedman agreed with the defense argument that even if female genital mutilation were proven, it would not meet the definition for "sexual activity."

That charge carried a life sentence.

Nagarwala, the Attars and the other five defendants are all members of a small Indian Muslim sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra, which has a mosque in Farmington Hills. The sect practices female circumcision and believes it is a religious rite of passage that involves only a minor "nick."

The other defendants include four mothers accused of subjecting their daughters to the procedure.

The case is set to go to trial in January 2019.

Earlier story

Mercury News (Pennsylvania)

July 29, 2018

Man charged after threats to hospital over circumcision

by Michael P. Rellahan

WEST GOSHEN >> Some wounds never heal.

West Goshen police have arrested a Westtown man who allegedly made multiple angry telephone calls to staff at the Chester County Hospital, at one point allegedly threatening to “shoot up the maternity ward,” according to a criminal complaint filed earlier this month.

The reason? The man said he suffers to this day from the forced circumcision he underwent as a baby born at the hospital in January 1995.

“Because of this circumcision, he now suffers from painful erections when sexually aroused,” the complaint, written by West Goshen Detective David Maurer, reads. The man said the pain, “has caused him to suffer … with mental health issues as a result.” He said he finds it difficult to have sex with partners, and “believes that if he had his skin he would not suffer from this pain.”

Albert Leslie Powell IV, 23, was charged with terroristic threats, a misdemeanor, and harassment stemming from the telephone calls, which occurred between November 2017 and June, when the final call was reported to police by a nursing supervisor at the hospital, which is located in West Goshen. He was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge William Kraut of West Goshen after turning himself in, and released on $10,000 bail, unsecured. A preliminary hearing is set for Aug. 16.


According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, circumcision in infancy is very safe. When it is performed by a trained professional under sterile conditions, few babies have complications and these are typically minor. There are no long-term studies of the health benefits [and by definition, nor of the harms or risks] of children who have been circumcised, it said. {And isn't that a scandal in itself?]

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a review of the practice, said that the health benefits of circumcision are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision, although its benefits are sufficient to justify access to the procedure for families choosing it. [Why does the paper quote the AAP's expired 2012 policy? The AAP did not study THIS man's ccase or the painful erections he says his cutting causes him. If he'd said his house was on fire would they quote actuarial studies showing most houses don't catch fire?]

Stop Intersex Genital Mutilation

July 27, 2018

Mexico-AU-NZ-LI: UN Condemns Intersex Genital Mutilation #CEDAW70

by seelenios

Monday 23.07.2018 has been a particularly good day for intersex human rights – literally around the globe! On this day the 70th Session of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) unmistakably and publicly condemned intersex genital mutilation and lack of adequate support for intersex children and their families as serious human rights violations in no less than four countries in South America, Oceania and Europe – namely Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and Liechtenstein! YAY!!!!

We welcome these clear verdicts, marking

  • the 1st UN reprimand for IGM for both Mexico and Liechtenstein
  • the 2nd UN reprimand for IGM for both Australia and New Zealand
  • the 1st ever UN reprimand for extraterritorial violations connected to IGM
  • the 8th-11th reprimand for IGM by UN CEDAW
  • in total 36 UN Treaty body reprimands for IGM so far
  • now 22 states reprimanded in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

StopIGM.org together with Brújula Intersexual and Vivir y Ser Intersex in collaboration with Adiòs Al Futuro and Intersex y Andrógino submitted an extensive Intersex NGO report for Mexico demonstrating the ongoing practice and the complicity of the State party's public health system, as well as further Intersex NGO reports for New Zealand and Liechtenstein by StopIGM.org highlighting extraterritorial violations, and briefed Committee members on all countries in public and private hearings and/or personal communications. Intersex Human Rights Australia (IHRA) submitted an Intersex NGO report for Australia.

Analysis: IGM = Crime, NOT “Health Care”

These latest binding recommendations on intersex and IGM first published on 23.07.2018 by the UN Women's Rights Committee (CEDAW) strongly re-affirm the non-derogable obligations of State parties on all continents and in all regions to

  • “Adopt necessary provisions explicitly prohibiting the performance of unnecessary surgical or other medical treatment on intersex children until they reach an age when they can give their free, prior and informed consent”
  • “provide families of intersex children with adequate counselling and support”
  • “provide redress to intersex persons having undergone medical treatment”

This is a timely reminder that – unlike “clear legislative provisions explicitly prohibiting” IGM – mere “self-regulation” by the current perpetrators (i.e. doctors, medical bodies and Ministries of Health) a.k.a. “new Health Care Protocols” won't stop IGM nor end the impunity of IGM practitioners and accessories, as such protocols constitute only “limited provisions” and in no way “effective” means to prevent further pain and suffering caused by IGM and the lack of adequate support.

We particularly welcome that CEDAW70 overwhelmingly recognised IGM and the lack of adequate support for intersex people and families to constitute “harmful practices” according to the Convention (just like e.g. FGM, forced marriage or “honour killings”), namely in the case of Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, explicitly referring to CEDAW art. 5(a) and the CEDAW-CRC Joint General Recommendation No. 31/18 on harmful practices. And that the Committee explicitly criticised “lack of effective remedies” and lack of access to “redress” for IGM survivors in Mexico, Australia and New Zealand, and for these countries further explicitly stipulated to “provide families of intersex children with adequate counselling and support”.

While we deeply regret that in the case of the Concluding Observations for Liechtenstein the Committee referred not to CEDAW art. 5 (stereotypes and harmful practices) but to art. 12 (health), we recognise that CEDAW nonetheless obliged all countries – including Liechtenstein! – to “specifically prohibit” IGM practices a.k.a. non-consensual unnecessary genital surgery and other procedures on intersex children. (Though we really wish the Committee hadn't again in the case of Liechtenstein wrongly referred to IGM practices as “sex reassignment surgery”, as this is seriously misleading (PDF, p. 8-9)).

And we particularly welcome that in the case of Liechtenstein the Committee for the first time reprimanded a State party for extraterritorial violations connected to IGM (as the small country of Liechtenstein sends its intersex children to specialised contractual clinics in neighbouring states to be submitted to IGM, namely to Switzerland and Austria, see NGO Report (PDF), p. 10-14), and that CEDAW70 further raised extraterritorial violations during its examination of New Zealand in Geneva, as also New Zealand is sending intersex children abroad for IGM, namely to RCH Melbourne in Australia (see NGO Report (PDF), p. 10-13). Further known countries involved in extraterritorial violations connected to IGM include Luxembourg sending children to Belgium, as well as Ireland to the UK – and Malta to both.


July 22, 2018

Somali father defends FGM after daughter, 10, dies

The father of a 10-year-old girl who died after undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) in Somalia has defended the practice.

Dahir Nur's daughter died of blood loss on 17 July, two days after being taken to a traditional circumciser.

But he told Voice of America (VOA) "people in the area are content" with FGM even considering the dangers, adding it is the country's "culture".

According to Unicef, 98% of girls and women in Somalia have undergone FGM.

This is despite Somalia's constitution prohibiting - although not outlawing - the practice, which involves the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons and can cause profound health problems.

Dr Abdirahman Omar Hassan, director of Hanano hospital in the city of Dhusamareb, told VoA he had never seen "anyone who was mutilated like that in my life".

Dr Hassan, who was on the team who tried to save the girl, also revealed she had caught tetanus, most likely from the unsterilised equipment used during the original procedure.

But Mr Nur said he did not want to pursue charges, and held no one to blame for his daughter's death.

Hawa Aden Mohamed, director of women's rights group Galkayo Education Center for Peace and Development (GECPD), pointed out even if he did, it would be largely meaningless.

"The woman who performed the operation has not been arrested but even if she was, there is no law that would ensure she is punished for the act," she told news agency Reuters.

"This is just one among many cases happening on a daily basis across Somalia."

Efforts to criminalise FGM in Somalia have been stalled by politicians, who fear it will alienate voters who believe it is a religious requirement, while girls who have not undergone it are reportedly taunted for not being cut

ChimpReports (Uganda)

July 18, 2018

Health Ministry Warns Against Forced Circumcision of Babies

by Nixon Segawa

Ministry of Health has threatened to take actions against medical officers that are allegedly involved in forced circumcision of babies in the country.

The warning was sounded by State Minister for Health – General Duties, Sarah Opendi while responding to concerns raised by West Budama North Member of Parliament, Richard Othieno Okoth last week.

Okello told the house that he had received several complaints from parents that they have been forced to have their male babies circumcised especially in Busolwe Hospital in Butaleja District.

In response, the Minister said the medical personnel who are involved in such acts are involving in an illegality and could be held liable individually.

“According to the Safe Male Circumcision Policy, 2010, Medical male circumcision should be promoted and is available for all age groups. In Uganda, circumcision in males below 18 years is carried out after written consent is obtained from the parents, guardians or caretakers while in males above 18 years, a written consent is sought from the individual before the procedure,” Opendi said. [The dramatic difference between parental and owners' consent is glossed over.]

Opendi said only two circumcisions based on clinical diagnosis were carried out on babies aged two years and below in Busolwe hospital and since then no other has occurred according to the records obtained from the Hospital.

“The clinical diagnosis stated that both children had a condition known as Phimosis. This condition occurs when a male baby is born with the foreskin closed resulting in difficulty or painful urination and increased risk to Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs),” Opendi explained. [A closed foreskin would result in prenatal death. True phimosis can not be diagnosed for several years after birth.]

“I therefore request the Hon Member to provide details of the children and their parents so that we can follow these cases up and take the necessary action against the staff after ascertaining the truth.”

Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision also known as Safe Male Circumcision is the surgical removal of foreskin of the penis, a practice that is undertaken for medical, religious or cultural purposes. [Calling it "Safe" makes it no safer.]

The Week (India)

July 17, 2018

Dawoodi Bohra women's group opposes call for female circumcision ban

by Soni Mishra

The legal fight to ban female genital mutilation (FGM) has turned into a clash between voices seeking that the practice be banned and the Dawoodi Bohra community, which practices female circumcision, with the latter being represented in the Supreme Court by an organisation of women from the community.

The Dawoodi Bohra Women's Association for Religious Freedom (DBWARF), an organisation claiming to represent over 69,000 practising Dawoodi Bohra women, had last week become party to the Sunita Tiwari versus Union of India case being heard by the Supreme Court.

Lawyer Sunita Tiwari had approached the Supreme Court seeking a ban on female circumcision (FC). However, the Dawoodi Bohra women's organisation, which is represented in court by senior lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi, has countered Tiwari's petition, by contending that FGM does not happen in the community.

The argument put forth by the organisation is that FC and FGM are two different procedures, and it is a misconception that FGM is prevalent in the Dawoodi Bohra community. It has stated that FC as practised by the Dawoodi Bohra community, is a completely harmless procedure, involving a nick on the prepuce of girls, and it cannot be termed mutilation.

“People have interchangeably used the two terms, which are not similar at all in practice. FC is a nick on the prepuce. It is a completely harmless process. Now, this nick cannot be compared with mutilation,” said Samina Kanchwala, secretary of DBWARF. She further said that male circumcision is far more invasive because it involves the entire foreskin being removed.

“We are confident that the Supreme Court would appreciate that our religious practice is harmless and would allow us to practise our religion as guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution of India,” Kanchwala said.

The Supreme Court, however, while hearing the matter, has stated that the bodily integrity of a woman cannot be infringed without her consent. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra is hearing the petition.

Why should the bodily integrity of a woman be subject to some external authority? One's genitals is an extremely private affair,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud. [Or a man? Or an intersexed person? "One" has no gender.]

The petitioner has stated in the PIL that the practice, to which young girls are subjected to, amounts to a crime under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 and the Indian Penal Code.

The practice of Khatna is illegal and against the religious norms/customs and amounts to serious violation of child rights as well as the rights of a woman to live with freedom and dignity and also a violation of human rights, and hence, amounts to cruelty of the first order, which is a heinous crime,” states the PIL filed by Tiwari.

The Times of Israel

July 11, 2018

Norwegian hospitals refuse to assist in circumcisions

Breaking the law, two hospitals refuse to provide non-medical procedure to boys under three

by JTA

At least two hospitals in Norway are breaking Norwegian law by refusing to help parents who wish to have their sons circumcised, a Norwegian paper revealed.

Stavanger University Hospital in the country’s west and Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen are not cooperating on the non-medical circumcision of boys younger than three years, the Stavanger Aftenblad regional newspaper reported Monday.

The ban is in violation of Norwegian law, which requires public hospitals to offer ritual circumcision services either through their own facilities and staff or through a contractor, the newspaper reported.

However, the hospitals told Aftenblad that their policy is part of their regional health departments’ guidelines. The report did not say when the hospitals adopted the ban policy.

For children older than three, Stavanger further requires a referral from a general practitioner or family doctor. The mandated referral also runs contrary to Norway’s 2014 act on non-medical circumcision, which stipulates that the procedure must be performed under the supervision and in the presence of a licensed physician, but it may be physically carried out by other persons.

The Helse Nord medical group, which runs several clinics and hospitals, also requires referrals.

In Judaism, circumcision is performed on 8-day-old boys provided they are healthy. In Islam, the procedure typically occurs later in infancy.

Across Scandinavia, activists are promoting a ban on the non-medical male circumcision with the backing of liberals, who say the practices are cruel, and nationalists, who view them as a foreign import to predominantly Christian societies.

Earlier story

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

July 7, 2018

''Love ALL of him" billboard

'Love ALL of him': Billboard asks parents to rethink circumcision

by Jull Daly

Opposed to any baby boy being circumcised, a Texas-based nonprofit called Your Whole Baby has paid for a billboard on the Boulevard of the Allies near Ward Street in Oakland. Expected to be up for a month, it has an image of a man holding a baby, with the message, “Love ALL of him. Circumcision harms.”

Greg Hartley, state director for Your Whole Baby PA, said the neighborhood was chosen because it’s near UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital, where UPMC says about 11,000 babies are born each year.

“The billboard is to make people think about something they often take for granted,” Mr. Hartley said. “Taking off healthy tissue from their children, it’s unethical, plain and simple — regardless of the culture, regardless of the parents’ religion.”

Mr. Hartley said health organizations around the world do not support circumcision, maintaining that the foreskin, the fold of skin at the end of the penis, has purpose and should remain intact.

In the U.S., he said, “It’s amazing how many people — including medical people — say it’s superfluous skin. It’s not really their fault; textbooks are not really up to date.” He explained the prepuce, the technical term for the foreskin, has a mucus membrane on its inside layer and is the most sensitive part of the penis.

Although no data on Western Pennsylvania is readily available, most newborn boys in the Pittsburgh area are circumcised, according to David Logan, medical director of obstetrical services at Allegheny Health Network’s Jefferson Hospital. He said ob/gyn doctors talk to the family, get consent after explaining the risk of bleeding and infections and do the 3- to 5-minute minor surgery in a sterile part of the nursery. [No suggestion that babies might be just left alone.]

“We rarely see complications,” he said [because they may not manifest themselves until puberty]. “We rarely see circumcision infections.” 

He said most families don’t talk about circumcision with their doctors before the baby is born, although over the past five to 10 years, more people are getting their information from the internet and educating themselves that way.

“We obstetricians talk about it,” Dr. Logan said. If a baby is in good health, the circumcision can be done the next day — and anesthesia is used to reduce pain. [Or it can be left undone forever, as it is in the rest of the developed world, completely pain-free.]

An ob/gyn doctor in Pittsburgh since 1994, Dr. Logan said people seem to be comfortable with what they know. He said he’s had fathers see their newborn sons with intact foreskin and say they think something’s wrong with the penis. [And no suggestion they should be just told that's normal.]

Circumcision is not promoted, but its safety and benefits are supported in a 2012 policy statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics. [Which was denounced by the medical associations of most of Europe, has now expired and not been renewed.] The statement was an update of 1999 recommendations, after a task force reviewed medical evidence from 1995 to 2010 on its benefits and harms. 

The 2012 statement announced that the evidence at that point showed “the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.” 

Among the benefits listed were prevention of urinary tract infections, penile cancer and transmission of some sexually transmitted infections, including HIV

When done by trained professionals under sterile conditions, with the right pain management, the statement said, the procedure is “well tolerated” by the infants. Complications are infrequent and most are minor [meaning some are major], it said. When done shortly after birth, complication rates are much lower than when done later in life, the AAP said. [The complication rate of leaving babies alone is zero.]

Routine circumcision was not recommended, but parents should have access to the procedure if they choose, the AAP statement said. It said it’s important that doctors always tell parents about the benefits and risks involved (in an “unbiased and accurate manner”). Parents decide what is best, the statement said, and they need to weigh medical information as it fits with their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.

“The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families,” the statement concluded.

The small health benefit to the procedure means it’s really up to the parents to decide, Dr. Logan said. In Western Pennsylvania, the choice is usually circumcision, he said, while in Berkeley, Calif., for example, he said people favor more natural choices.

Mr. Hartley said the AAP statement is already outdated and incomplete.

“They don’t acknowledge the loss of functional, erogenous tissue,” he said, adding that fathers might justify the procedure for psychological reasons.

“Fathers have to make that psychosocial leap and say, ‘This wasn’t the best for me.’ … They need to admit it and break the cycle of cutting.” [Or just say, "I had no choice, but I can give him one."]

For non-circumcised children, the lack of knowledge about attached foreskins can be dangerous, according to a recent survey done by Intact America, a national anti-circumcision advocacy group (Mr. Hartley is on its steering committee). The group reported that the survey found many boys with intact foreskins were experiencing the pain [and harm] of having the foreskin forcibly pulled back. The AAP warns against retracting an attached foreskin in babies and young boys.

The survey questioned U.S. parents of 401 boys with an intact foreskin under the age of 7. The results found 173 boys, or 43.3 percent, had had their foreskins forcibly retracted. The advocates said the medical community and parents need to be educated about the danger of the practice.

The Guardian

July 6, 2018

Birmingham man arrested over alleged circumcision assaults

Mohammad Siddiqui held on suspicion of GBH against boys in Banbury and Bristol

Press Association

A man has been arrested on suspicion of physical assaults against boys in relation to circumcision procedures.

Mohammad Siddiqui, 52, from the Winson Green area of west Birmingham, was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of causing grievous bodily harm. [raising the question, when is non-consented infant male genital cuttting not grievous bodily harm?]

Hampshire and Thames Valley police forces are leading the investigation into the alleged assaults, which are said to have been carried out at the alleged victims’ homes in Banbury in Oxfordshire and Bristol.

Siddiqui has since been released from custody but remains under investigation. A Hampshire police spokesman said an address was being searched in Birmingham as part of the inquiry.

DCI Fiona Bitters, of Hampshire police, said: “This is a large investigation and we are already speaking to a number of people in relation to these allegations, however we would like to speak to anyone who may have information that can help us with our investigation or is concerned about a procedure which has taken place privately since 2015.

“We are asking parents or guardians of boys circumcised, or healthcare workers, who have concerns about the procedure, the aftercare provided, or the recovery to come forward.

“We are not investigating the practice of circumcision. We are investigating if any criminality took place relating to an individual’s actions when undertaking this procedure or the aftercare provided.” [The question arises whether they should be investigating the practice of non-consented infant male genital cutting.]

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