Intactivism News
January - March 2002

More recent news

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22/03/2002 21:06 - (SA)

Female circumcision reduced

Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
The practice of female genital mutilation in Africa has fallen sharply over the past 18 years, the Inter-African Committee to Fight Excision said on Friday.

The committee, set up by the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), reported an "enormous success" in its programme, launched in 1984.

"Female circumcision was the rule in 30 African countries 18 years ago. Today, demographic studies have shown that in many nations it has reduced by a third," Morissanda Kouyate, director of the committee's operations, said in Ouagadougou.

"This represents an important step forward," he said, adding: "Ten years ago no country would have dared to introduce legislation against female circumcision. Today it is banned in some 12 countries."

The committee, which is also fighting for the rehabilitation of mutilated women, has offices in 30 African countries.

- Sapa- AFP


February 20, 2002

It's official: circumcision "inconsistent with good medical practice."

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan has advised its members to "accurately and effectively convey the message" that infant male circumcision is "not a recommended procedure."

The memo says that routine infant circumcision is inconsistent with good medical practice, and that parental consent for this operation may not be truly informed (and hence legally ineffective).

The memo contrasts the relatively high rate of infant male circumcision in Saskatchewan (27.6%) with the much lower rates prevailing in the easternmost provinces (1.5% in Nova Scotia, 0.6% in Newfoundland and Labrador). It concludes with a warning that doctors who continue performing newborn circumcision, even for religious reasons, should seek legal advice and carry adequate insurance.

See the text of the memo.
See an image of it (offsite).

Regina, Saskatchewan,
Thursday, February 21, 2002.

Circumcisions no longer [or rather, never were] necessary: Sask. doctors

Anne Kyle
Regina Leader Post

REGINA (CP) - Routine circumcisions on baby boys is an unnecessary medical procedure, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan said Wednesday.

"For almost 2½ decades now the Canadian Pediatric Society has pointed out there really is no research evidence to suggest benefit from the procedure that outweighs the risks of performing the procedure," said college registrar Dr. Dennis Kendel....

See the rest of this article.


Board Fines Doctor for Mistake
Dr. Eva Salamon must pay $5,000 plus expenses,
and perform community service

Wednesday, February 6, 2002

The Ledger

LAKELAND -- The Florida Board of Medicine imposed a $5,000 fine on Dr. Eva Salamon, a Winter Haven obstetrician, for doing a circumcision on a baby boy without the parents' consent.

She must give a one-hour lecture on wrong-patient surgery, do 20 hours of community service and take five additional hours of continuing education in risk management. She also will pay $889.70 in costs for investigating the situation, an investigation that took place after Winter Haven Hospital filed a serious incident report.

She and the Agency for Health Care Administration, which investigates complaints for the Department of Health, had agreed on those terms in a proposed consent agreement given the Florida Board of Medicine on Friday. The board accepted the consent agreement.

Salamon said she isn't at liberty to talk about the situation, other than to confirm the board's action.

The boy was born at 8:25 a.m. Nov. 25, 2000. The surgery took place at 10:30 a.m. the next day, according to the agency's investigative report. ...

The hospital's policy at that time was for nursing staff to confirm that a signed consent form was in the patient's chart before a physician did a circumcision, according to the investigative report.

The report said Linda Bradway, the hospital's risk manager, said the staff didn't do that Nov. 26, 2000, but that the policy and procedures were revised afterward to make sure a consent form is present.

It also quoted notes written by Salamon that state: "Circumcision was performed on this infant without a permit. I went to speak to the mother and explained the mistake. Circumcision was uncomplicated."

[The way is now open for the parents to sue the doctor, and 16 years from now, for the son to.]


The Age

Doctor before board over penis surgery

Monday 4 February 2002

A Melbourne doctor allegedly performed surgery on his 37-year-old patient's penis without consent, telling him circumcision would bring him success with women, a hearing was told today.

The Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria is investigating Dr X for professional misconduct during a single consultation at a Broadmeadows clinic in May 2000.

During the consultation, which went for longer than normal, Dr X allegedly told the man, now 39, that the top part of his foreskin was the source of his problems with women.

A notice of the allegations being considered by the board hearing today reads: "You told your patient that circumcision would help get him girls by making his penis appear bigger."

The precise extent of the "surgical procedure" carried out by the general practitioner was not revealed before the hearing was closed.

Dr X allegedly interrupted the consultation to attend another patient, leaving the man with his "pants down and sexually aroused" before giving him some cream and telling him to masturbate.

He is also accused of telling his patient that his history of self mutilation was normal and offering to send him to "places where S and M leather things happen" or organising "a girl for the purposes of sex".

The hearing continues in camera.

The charges were thrown out. The complainant was deemed unreliable.


South Africa
Daily Mail & Guardian
January 14, 2002

Alcohol increases risk of HIV/AIDS, says study

Alcohol consumption in developing countries increases the risk of HIV infection, possibly explaining the lower prevalence of HIV infection among Muslims, a study has found

Researchers from the Medical Research Council Programme on Aids in Uganda questioned 2 374 sexually active adults from 15 villages in the southwest of the country. After being kept under epidemiological surveillance for eight years, the participants were asked about their history of alcohol consumption and the sale of alcohol in their households. After informed consent, they were tested for HIV/Aids. The study showed that HIV prevalence was higher among adults who consumed alcohol than those who never drank. Non-Muslims were 14 times more likely to have used alcohol, and twice as likely to be HIV positive.

Professor James Whitworth, one of the researchers involved in the study, said that the relationship between religion, HIV prevalence and alcohol was an "intriguing finding". In other studies, the link between religion and HIV prevalence had been related to male circumcision, and few studies have explored the effect of alcohol. Future studies of HIV infection among Muslims needed to investigate this further, he said.

Public health campaigns need to stress the relationship between HIV/Aids and alcohol, the study noted.

"In Uganda, I've seen one or two posters that depict a man sitting in a bar drinking and health-related warnings about the dangers of HIV/Aids," said Whitworth. He suggested that bar owners should play a role by selling condoms at bars.

The main method for HIV transmission in sub-Saharan Africa is heterosexual contact. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of HIV infection by reducing the chances of condom use, increasing sexual activity and weakening personal control, the study suggested.

For more details: - Plusnews


Yahoo daily news
Thursday January 10 12:51 PM ET

Kenyans Prize Female Circumcision Despite Ban

By David Mageria

KAPENGURIA, Kenya (Reuters) - Chepochepkor Komolion busily smears cow dung on the wall of her mud hut, complaining bitterly about a litany of problems.

Hunger, drought, scarcity of water, a lack of hospitals and medicine and frequent cattle rustling raids that force her to abandon her home top the list.

Clearly, an increasingly intense debate in Kenya about female circumcision has escaped her list of worries.

``I have to take my children to be circumcised because this is what I got from my grandparents,'' 32-year old Komolion said while her baby girl played in the distance. ``This is the culture we have, this is the way we found it.''

Komolion's attitude is entrenched among most women and young girls living in rural Kenya, where many people still highly value female circumcision despite efforts by the government, churches and civic groups to stamp out the practice.

President Daniel arap Moi outlawed the circumcision of girls under the age of 17 in December, introducing prison terms and penalties of up to 50,000 shillings ($640), a huge amount of money for most Kenyans who earn less than a dollar a day.

Opponents of circumcision say it is painful, outdated and carries grave health risks, but criminalizing the practice will not deter uneducated people like Komolion, nor their leaders in remote areas like the Kacheliba constituency in western Kenya.

``I don't like the view people have taken to approaching the problem by condemnation, by demonizing people who practice it and making it look like they are primitive,'' said Samuel Poghisio, an assistant minister from Kacheliba.


Like most Kenyan tribes who practice female circumcision, the cattle- tending Pokot community living in Kacheliba view it as a rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood.

More importantly, they believe it controls a woman's appetite for sex, putting a lid on promiscuity.

The nomadic Pokot men insist on marrying only circumcised women because they are more likely to find them ``untouched'' when they return from months of wandering in search of scarce water and grazing land for their cattle in the arid landscape.

``We prefer the girls we marry to be circumcised because it reduces adultery,'' said 31-year-old Lomunyongole Anokile, switching his spear from one hand to the other as he peered over the thick bushes to survey his herd of cattle.

Girls too accept the argument, believing it would be difficult to find a husband if they are not circumcised

Even worse is the fear of dealing with the community, which stigmatizes uncircumcised women and labels them cowards. Such girls would rather commit suicide than stay uncircumcised

``We as girls have no alternative but to carry on with it because there is no other way of showing courage and passage into adulthood,'' said 16-year old Nakiru Dawan, the most outspoken of a group of friends circumcised this month.

The girls, beautifully dressed in yellow and black beaded collars, know they will soon find a man to marry.


But not all girls choose the same path to adulthood.

Francesca Lushake and a group of her friends who have just completed secondary education carry glowing candles and sing songs at a ceremony in another Pokot area to symbolize that they have seen the light and no longer dwell in darkness.

It is the climax of an alternative rite of passage, referred to as ``circumcision by words'' as opposed to the physical ritual.

The alternative ceremony -- still very a much a minority practice -- is held after a seclusion period during which older women teach girls how to be good mothers and wives.

But even after the alternative rite, girls like Lushake are still looked down upon by many in the community.

``As a girl whose parents have been circumcised, people always ask me 'If your mother, your parents, your grandmother have been circumcised, who do you think you are?''' she said.

But Lushake is determined not to give in to the pressure because her schooling has taught her that circumcision often leads to infections, infertility and death during childbirth.

Normally the circumcision is carried out as a clitoridectomy or infibulation -- the total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora. Health experts estimate that up to a third of Kenyan women have undergone some form of circumcision.


But interestingly, pastoralist Pokot men living on the border with Uganda have given up circumcising males.

About three decades ago, 30 boys who had been recovering from the operation were killed in a cross-border attack by members of the Ugandan Karimojong tribe.

Since then, boys have undergone a ``non-circumcision'' ritual known as ``Sapana.''

The initiate has to spear a bull at sunrise, old men feast on meat and milk and later bless the young man by smearing mud on his head to mark his transition into adulthood.

``If we circumcise boys we are raided by enemies. We need the boys for defense,'' said 65 year-old Kokorng'ole Kongole.

With AK-47 rifles at the ready, men clad in just a wrap of cloth spend most of their time thinking about cattle, the Pokot's lifeline.

Cows are so integral to Pokot life that women even use the animals' urine to wash their utensils, collecting it at dawn before the cattle leave to graze. Feeding the cattle and protecting them from raids totally preoccupies the Pokot men.

In return for providing security for the family, men expect women to be submissive on issues like female circumcision.

Experts say attitudes will be hard to change, all the more so because the preoccupation with cattle keeps many children out of schools and within the confines of traditional values.

Critics say opponents of female circumcision should first attend to the basic needs of poor people like Komolion before focusing on trying to eradicate the practice.

Francesca believes the battle will eventually be won, although it may take many years. ``I believe with time girls who have not gone to school will understand,'' she said.

[This is an apparent exception to the general rule that where females are circumcised, males are also. But notice that the Pokot used to circumcise males and have given it up.]


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