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7 December 2007
Circumcision Still A Divisive Issue In UK
by George Atkinson

Those opposed to circumcision argue that it can cause both physical and psychological harm, but an increasing body of evidence shows that circumcision is medically beneficial. Now, going head-to-head in the latest issue of the British Medical Journal, two doctors debate the vexed question of male genital modification.

Geoff Hinchley, a consultant with the British National Health Service says there is rarely a therapeutic indication for infant circumcision, yet ritual (non-therapeutic) male circumcision continues unchecked throughout the world, long after female circumcision, facial scarification, and other ritual forms of infant abuse have been made illegal. He argues that the law and principles pertaining to child protection should apply equally to both sexes, and asks why the medical profession continues with an unnecessary mutilating practice.

Hinchley admits that it may be the case that male circumcision reduces HIV risk in sexually active adults. He contends, however, that the decision on whether an individual wishes to have this procedure should be left until they are old enough to make their own informed health care choices. "Male genital mutilation is not a risk-free procedure, he adds. Far from being a harmless traditional practice, circumcision damages young boys," he added.

He also notes that in terms of legal protection, both the US and the UK legal systems discriminate between the sexes when it comes to protecting boys and girls from damaging ritual genital mutilation.

But circumcision proponent Kirsten Patrick argues that, if competently performed, circumcision carries little risk and cannot be compared with female circumcision. If done under local anesthesia, she claims the pain is comparable to that from an injection for immunization.

She cites research that shows that male circumcision has been associated with a reduced risk of sexually transmitted infections, such as human papilloma virus, chancroid and syphilis. Other studies have shown that circumcision can reduce the spread of HIV. Furthermore, she says, no robust research exists examining the long term psychological effects of male infant circumcision.

Male circumcision is not illegal anywhere in the world. It is a choice that parents will make on behalf of their male children, for cultural or other reasons, and regulating its provision is the wisest course of action, she concludes.

Related:
Foreskin Restoration
HIV And Circumcision The American Penis: In Circumcision We Trust
When Circumcision Was The Cure For Everything

Source: British Medical Journal




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