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July - September 2004

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Mother tries to protect 3-yr-old, but fails

Father Has Boy Circumcised, Rendering Part Of Court Case Moot

POSTED: 10:17 am CDT August 10, 2004
UPDATED: 11:49 am CDT August 10, 2004

A portion of a petition before the Missouri Supreme Court has been made moot because a father had his nearly 3-year-old son circumcised last week.

Should the court have decided whether the boy could be circumcised?
Yes, the father should have waited until the court decided the case.
No, the father had custody of the boy.
I don't have an opinion.
The child's mother, Camille Azar of Lee's Summit, said in July that her son, Ethan, who will be 3 in September, was too old to be circumcised and too young to decide for himself if he wants to undergo what she believes is an unnecessary procedure.

But the boy's father, Ray Jagoda of Leawood, Kan., said circumcision is a Jewish rite that he wants his son to experience. Jagoda is Jewish. Azar -- who had custody of Ethan for the first 29 months of his life -- is not.

In May, a Jackson County judge awarded custody of the boy to Jagoda, giving him sole responsibility for making decisions about medical treatment and health-care issues. Azar was granted weekly visitation, but only under the supervision of a court-assigned guardian.

In her petition to the Missouri Supreme Court, Azar contended that "Mr. Jagoda has indicated that he is determined to circumcise the child immediately, with or without a doctor, with or without anesthesia."

Jagoda said that petition was "chock full of misinformation."

He said that although he initially wanted the circumcision for religious reasons, a recent examination revealed that his son "would have a lot of problems" had he not been circumcised.

Though Jagoda declined to discuss details, he said the procedure went well and that his son was under general anesthesia when it was performed.

"He's doing real well," Jagoda said.

Previous Story:

Kansas City Star
Posted on Thu, Jul. 15, 2004

Mother seeks high court order to block circumcision

By STEVE ROCK The Kansas City Star

A Lee's Summit woman is asking the Missouri Supreme Court to prevent the "unneeded and irreparable'' circumcision of her almost 3-year-old son.

The attorney for Camille Azar filed a petition for a writ of prohibition Wednesday with the Supreme Court, effectively asking the state's highest court to reverse a decision made in Jackson County Circuit Court. Ultimately, Azar hopes to stop Ray Jagoda, the child's father, from having their son circumcised.

The child turns 3 in September and, according to the petition, is "aware of his own body."

"The potential for psychological harm from non-infant circumcisions is well established and great," the petition states.

Michael Whitsitt, the attorney for Jagoda, said Wednesday he had no comment about the latest development in the case.

Jagoda and Azar never married, and Jackson County Circuit Judge Christine Sill-Rogers granted full custody to Jagoda earlier this year. Azar, who was the child's primary caregiver until he was about 29 months old, has appealed that ruling.

Her immediate concern, she said Wednesday, is preventing a circumcision that she deems unnecessary and potentially harmful. According to the petition filed with the Supreme Court, "Mr. Jagoda has indicated that he is determined to circumcise the child immediately, with or without a doctor, with or without anesthesia."

Azar said Wednesday that, according to studies she has read and experts she has spoken with, her son's age might be the worst for a child to be circumcised.

"This is the most frightening age and damaging age psychologically," she said. "I have to protect him.

"He knows his body very well. He's aware enough to understand what his body is like now but not able to understand why part of that would be taken away. Kids this age see the operation as a punishment, a mutilation, a castration."

Azar said she is generally opposed to the idea of circumcision. If her son were old enough to decide for himself, she said, she wouldn't object.

So she's taking her fight to the state's highest court.

According to legal rules, Whitsitt has 10 days to file suggestions and oppositions.

"Circumcision . would be the removal of perfectly healthy tissue from a person not legally competent to object," the petition states. "Circumcision is non-reversible amputation. It is the permanent destruction of living, non-threatening, sensitive tissue."


Important ethical breakthrough

CTV news

B.C. doctors take stand against circumcision News Staff

B.C.'s College of Physicians and Surgeons has issued guidelines that state circumcision on newborns is medically unnecessary.

Not only that, it hurts.

"The concern is that, most males would agree, that this is very painful," Dr. Peter Seland of the College told CTV Newsnet. "Most babies would voice that."

There are also concerns the procedure "reduces sexual enjoyment later in life," he said.

Those downsides are for a procedure that primarily reduces the risk of some localized infections, he said.

"Beyond that, I think primarily the benefits rest primarily with ethnic beliefs, which these guidelines don't attempt to address at all."

The College acknowledges in its guidelines that circumcision is an important tradition in Jewish and Islamic culture.

Asked about the child's best interests, Seland said, "parents have an obligation to make medical decisions that are in their child's best interests, and they do it all the time."

With circumcision, "the risks and benefits more or less seems to be evenly weighed, so it's a nil issue," he said.

In the policy statement published online, the CPSBC raises a number of questions on the ethical, legal and medical implications of the procedure.

"Routine infant male circumcision performed on a healthy infant is now considered a non-therapeutic and medically unnecessary intervention," the College writes.

Calling for a "wider societal discussion" of the practice, the manual goes on to call routine infant male circumcision "an unnecessary and irreversible procedure."

"Therefore, many consider it to be 'unwarranted mutilating surgery.' Many adult men are increasingly concerned about whether their parents had the right to give consent for infant male circumcision."

The new guidelines were developed in response to the 2002 death of one-month-old Ryleigh McWillis. He bled to death after a circumcision at Penticton regional hospital.

Though the consensus of many medical agencies -- including both the Canadian and American Paediatric Societies -- comes down against its medical benefits, there are still many doctors who routinely perform the surgery.

Doctors who favour circumcising healthy children say the best time is in the first few weeks after birth.

The CPSBC does make allowances for circumcision on religious grounds or other similarly compelling grounds.

"Therefore, each request for the procedure should be carefully evaluated, and an agreement to perform the procedure should take into consideration the ethical principles of beneficence (duty to benefit); non-maleficence (do no harm); veracity (accurate information); autonomy (consent); and justice (fairness)."

Seland said the guidelines should help B.C. physicians in counselling parents "so they just don't make it on the basis of 'we want him to look like daddy.'"

The college wants parents to understand "the risks and the limited benefit, and to understand there are moral and human rights issues that they need to at least consider in their decision," he said.


"He was covered in blood"

Monday 12 July 2004

Circumcision doctors face hearing
Dr Ayyaswany Vasanthakrishnan
Dr Vasanthakrishnan did not meet the family of Master A
Two doctors have admitted carrying out circumcisions on two baby boys without the parents' written consent, the General Medical Council has heard.

But Dr Virinder Madhok and Dr Ayyaswany Vasanthakrishnan, from Glasgow, denied causing them unnecessary pain.

The pair also admitted failing to inform the babies' parents about the risks involved in the procedure, during the hearing in Manchester.

The two boys had been taken to Dr Madhok's private surgery in 2002.

The GMC heard that the two babies, referred to only as Master A and Master B, had been taken to the surgery in Battlefield Road, Glasgow, to have the circumcisions performed in accordance with Muslim tradition.

I felt quite angry that this had happened, he was a doctor. I was quite angry and shocked
Master A's mother
Opening the case for the GMC, Nick Braslavsky QC, said that eight-month-old Master A was taken to the surgery on 6 July, 2002 by his mother and aunt.

As the family waited to be seen by the doctor they saw another boy who had just been circumcised return to his family.

His body and legs were covered in blood, he was sweating and in a distressed state, Master A's aunt told the hearing.

"He was just crying and crying and just wouldn't stop. He was covered in blood, it got me quite scared," she said.

She told the GMC that she noticed Dr Madhok's hands were also covered in blood and he was not wearing gloves.

The doctor handed back the baby to its parents, telling them he was a "stubborn child who would cause them a lot of problems in the future".

Dr Virinder Madhok
Dr Madhok admitted failing to explain the risks
When Aunt A intervened and pointed out he was only a baby, Dr Madhok replied: "I don't need a lecture from you. I've been doing this for 52 years," she said.

Baby A was then taken away for just under an hour for the surgery.

Dr Madhok and Dr Vasanthakrishnan, who was performing the surgery, both admitted they failed to get written consent from the mother or explain that the procedure was to be performed by Dr Vasanthakrishnan, who in fact was never introduced to the family members.

When Master A was returned he was covered in blood, sweating and had scratches on his arms and stomach, his aunt said.

Dr Madhok explained that the scratches had been caused by his fingernails during the circumcision.

"I felt quite angry that this had happened, he was a doctor. I was quite angry and shocked," she said.

'Very distressed'

She told the hearing that she did not believe the scratches had been caused by the doctor's fingernails.

The GMC also heard that the four-month-old boy, referred to as Master B, was taken to the same surgery for circumcision on 26 October, 2002.

It was alleged that the doctors again failed to explain the risks involved in the procedure and failed to gain either the aunt or mother's written consent.

The boy was returned to them in a "very distressed state" and could be heard screaming from the waiting room as the procedure was performed, Mr Braslavsky said.

Dr Madhok, of Dalziel Drive, Glasgow, suggested that he had not been anaesthetised properly or at all during the surgery, it was also claimed, which the doctor denied.

The hearing continues.


Another death

South African Press Association
July 08 2004 at 02:33AM

Circumcision school initiative dies

An initiate from Zone 13 circumcision school in Mdantsane died inside his hut after suffering from septicaemia, a post mortem revealed on Wednesday.

And at least one initiate from a Zone 2 circumcision school has been put under close monitoring by the Buffalo City Traditional Circumcision Association after he developed signs of gangrene.

The initiate who died at the weekend was Sabelo Marotya, 17.

His body was taken to the police mortuary where it remained until the post mortem was conducted.

The department of health is also investigating
Captain Michelle Matroos said a murder docket had been opened, but she could not elaborate until a police investigation had been concluded.

The department of health is also investigating the incident and will take action if negligence is found on the part of the traditional nurse in charge of looking after the youth.

In terms of the Traditional Circumcision Act of 2001, the traditional nurse is required to report any sign of illness of an initiate to a medical officer as soon as possible.

Local department spokesperson Monde Matshaya said the fact the initiate died of septicaemia was an indication that he had been ill, and that the traditional nurse did not report the matter to medical officers. - Sapa


July 7, 2004

Olaglig omskärelse polisanmäld Illegal circumcision reported to police
En sjuårig pojke som blivit omskuren i Göteborg fick så svåra komplikationer att fallet har polisanmälts, skriver Göteborgs-Postens nätupplaga. A seven-year-old boy who was circumcised in Gothenburg had such serious complications that the case was reported to police, writes the Gothenburg Post's internet edition.
Enligt anmälan till socialstyrelsen hade omskärelsen utförts av en person som bara uppgivit förnamn och mobilnummer och som saknade känd adress. Det rituella ingreppet skulle, enligt anmälan, skett i ett rum på en förskola i en förort till Göteborg. Skolans rektor förnekar att någon har utfört en olaglig omskärelse där. According to a report filed with the National Board of Health and Social Welfare, the circumcision was done by a person who gave only a first name as a mobile phone number, and who lacked any known address. The ritual operation had, according to the official report, occurred in a room at a preschool in a Gothenburg suburb. The school's head teacher denies that anyone has performed an illegal circumcision there.


Police support abuse


Rastafarian circumcised against his will     Melanie Peters
    July 04 2004 at 12:42PM

A 22-year-old Cape Town man was taken by force and circumcised against his will this week. And far from sympathising with him, his father insists it was for his own good.

Litha Ntshoza, of Gugulethu, said he was dragged to a field near Cape Town International Airport on Friday and stripped naked by a group of Xhosa tribal elders and relatives who performed the traditional Xhosa initiation ceremony on him as he lay struggling in vain.

He is a Rastafarian convert and strongly opposes Xhosa initiation. The men who forcibly circumcised him also cut off his Rasta dreadlocks.

He said that after his foreskin was cut, he ran naked and bleeding back to Gugulethu, where, instead of helping him, members of the community ordered him to return to the initiation site to complete the ceremony.

'We don't believe in shedding blood or partaking in activities of blood-spilling'
He said two policemen took him back to the spot and told him that it was all part of becoming a man.

During the early hours of Saturday he escaped again and ran in the rain to a friend's house, where he was given clothes.

In severe pain and with an animal skin that had been tied by tribal elders around his genitalia to stop the bleeding, he went to hospital for treatment.

His ordeal started earlier on Friday, when he was told by his father, Wiseman Ntshoza, that they were going to visit relatives.

The young Ntshoza said as they neared the airport, he began to have an inkling of what was going to happen. But it was too late to escape.

He said relatives and tribal leaders had put pressure on his father, saying he was already 22 and had not gone through the rite of passage.

It is custom for South African tribes such as the Ndebele, Sotho and Xhosa to send teenage boys into the bush for up to eight weeks to learn the tribe's cultural and moral values, and to undergo ritual coming of age ceremonies that include circumcision.

The traditional winter Xhosa initiation season begins in June.

Ntshoza, who became a Rastafarian seven years ago, said he had made it clear to his father that he did not want to undergo this rite of passage because some of the Xhosa ways went against his Rasta religious beliefs.

"We don't believe in shedding blood or partaking in activities of blood-spilling. We are strict vegetarians and believe in being one with nature. If God intended us to be circumcised, man would have been born that way."

He said that during the ceremony, the tribal members held him down and used a knife that was not surgically clean,
increasing the risk of infection.

After his foreskin was cut, he said they wanted him to swallow it. They also cut off his dreadlocks. "I protested the whole time and refused to eat my own flesh. I feared for my life because there have been many stories of boys bleeding to death."

He said prior to the ritual, things had been tense at home because he refused to go through initiation. "They thought by forcibly taking me I would obey and do the cultural ritual. But now, because I ran away, I will not be viewed as a proper Xhosa man. This is a disgrace for my father."

Ntshoza Senior said his son had to undergo the rite of passage. "As a parent I have to decide what is good for him. There is a certain time when a boy has to become a man. This ritual is part of our tradition."

He said running away was very dangerous. He hoped his son had gone to a hospital.

He blamed the Rastafarians for misleading his son. "They are not his family or part of his culture."

Police spokesperson Nina Kirsten said the two policemen should not have got involved in the matter.

They should have taken Ntshoza to hospital and not back to the ceremony, she said.

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