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Circumcision in boys and girls: why the double standard?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 16 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d978

At last an open debate

It was reassuring to read Mihail Evans full and comprehensive piece criticising the practice of neonate male circumcision, and the recent extensive supporting replies by M. Storm/R. van Howe leave nothing to add medically. It seems the medical profession is, finally, able to take on board arguments against the odd, senseless and cruel practice of non- theraputic male circumcision on infants.

Manzoor Mermon's reply seemed to confuse many different areas in a few sentences. The final comment appeared to state that women experience so much trauma in giving birth, neonate male circumcision is 'sort of OK - for a bit of balance'. This argument is best left without further examination.

Eleanor Zimmerman goes down the route of FGM is so much worse. An analogy: the fact that one person is say shot in the chest and the other 'only wounded in the arm' doesn't make the latter OK and make it alright to carry on. Additionally, the reality of two baby twins - a boy and a girl - having unequal protection in law from being attacked by a knife indicates a rudimentary contempt for the male sex.

Janos Baombe promulgates rather dramatically 'the fear and shame of looking different'. Thank heavens he is on hand to help with this awful problem! Most tribes wear some article of clothing, don't have too much interest in the same gender one assumes, and have other more practical concerns on a day-to-day basis.

Harvey Gordon's old text books presumably don't talk about the rate of penile cancer - about 1 in 100,000 by most estimates. At that rate, hardly worth minimising yet further by an invasive and nasty op 'just in case'.

Re: the AIDS/HIV - babies don't have intercourse. At least not for around another 14 years at least, where there may well be advances in medical care.

One hopes that those politicians and leaders who purport to be 'equalists' and 'champions of the oppressed' can get round to this issue of also protecting male babies - as every other group seems to have active and forceful representation. Bravo Mr Evans et al.

Competing interests: None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

03 March 2011
Pete Leckie
Active member