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News items are copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)
- thanks to Joseph4GI
World New Daily Report
Emasculated by Botched Circumcision, Man Sues Rabbi for 5M$
[This story has been removed. It proved to be satire.]
New Times Africa
Malawi shifting away from forced male circumcision
Forced male circumcision sparks debate in Malawi
by Moses Michael-Phiri
BLANTYRE, Malawi (AA) – It was around sunset on a chilly day in the populous Ndirande Township in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial hub, where a group of cheering boys had gathered around a dusty pitch to watch some of their peers play football. That’s when they pounced.
Picking one of the smallest boys on the touchline, mysterious men dragged their seven-year-old victim away, undisturbed by his efforts to break loose, only leaving behind a dusty trail as they disappeared with their prey into the bush.
The boy tried to cry for help. But only a muffled sound came out of his mouth as one of the men had gagged him until they had brought him into a grass-thatched hut.
That very moment, the other boys realized that their friend had been taken for circumcision. They all took to their heels – some to alert the boy’s parents.
A traditional initiation ceremony – or “chinamwali,” also popularly known as “jando,” in which circumcision is carried out – was taking place quietly in the nearby hut.
Between May and August, local circumcision ceremonies swing into full gear in most parts of the country.
Trespassers are abducted, circumcised and ordered to pay hefty “fees” to elders, locally known as “ngaliba” (surgeons).
Local elders occasionally send boys to capture other boys suspected of not being circumcised in an effort to increase the number of initiates – and raise money.
Elders demand 7000 kwachas (about $18) in fees for the “initiation” of a seven-year-old boy.
“We tried to settle the matter amicably, but the initiation elders were not moved,” the relative of the boy told Anadolu Agency, asking not to be named.
“They demanded their fees be paid in full before they could release the boy,” he said.
“Village headman Mtambalika, the local chief of the area, paid 1000 kwachas [about $2] for the boy’s release,” added the relative.
The parents declined to talk to AA, but the relative suspected that they were in favor of the boy’s circumcision.
“It’s tradition; boys have to be circumcised, especially in the Muslim communities in this area,” he said. “No wonder the parents are quiet about it.”
But one of the country’s most prominent lawyers, Zwelithini Chipembere, has decried the practice.
“Those who forced circumcision on the boy have to pay the price,” he told AA.
“This is total abuse of human rights. No one should be forced to be circumcised,” Chipembere insisted.
“This was an innocent seven-year-old boy who went out to have fun.”
He asserted that the initiation hut had been intentionally built near a school playground, where children can often be found playing.
“It is a serious matter; I am still trying to get more information from the parents and police so we can open a court case,” the lawyer said.
“All I want is to find out who abducted the boy to be circumcised,” he added.
So far, he lamented, no one had been arrested over the incident.
The incident has added fuel to an already raging debate across the country about circumcision ceremonies.
Initiation huts have sprung up to target schoolboys on holiday (May to August), which is a cold season in Malawi – a climate said to make circumcision less painful and make wounds heal quickly, according to a local initiation elder.
The Malawian government is already under fire for moving too slowly in providing free male circumcision services at state facilities.
Earlier this month, the government announced it would scale up a voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) program.
Health Ministry spokesman Henry Chimbali told AA that a massive, six-week VMMC campaign – targeting 45,000 people in six districts – had begun.
“The VMMC campaign is running in the districts of Blantyre, Lilongwe and Nkhotakota [in central Malawi] and in Zomba, Phalombe and Mulanje [in the southern region],” he explained.
Malawi launched its VMMC initiative in late 2011 as an HIV prevention strategy after being convinced by results of three random clinical trials that had shown that the service led to HIV prevention rates of 60 percent.
The campaign also aims to curb forced or unsafe male circumcisions carried out during initiation ceremonies.
The World Bank has agreed to fund the program – to the tune of some $15 million – for the next four years.
“VMMC also benefits the recipient in terms of hygiene, prevention of cervical cancer in female partners, and prevention of penile cancer,” Chimbali said, adding that over 140,000 men in the country had undergone VMMC.
Frank Chimbwandira, director of the Health Ministry’s HIV/AIDs department, said that while the government had excluded some districts in the northern region from the campaign, the project was focused on areas known for high HIV prevalence rates.
But, he insisted, people should understand that VMMC is not a 100-percent HIV/AIDS prevention measure.
“We encourage those who have undergone VMMC to still use condoms in order to stay safe from contracting HIV,” Chimbwandira told AA.
[Then what possible difference can having been circumcised make?]
VMMC facilities have been opened in primary schools in order to make the service available to the people, especially the young, he said.
The campaign has received an overwhelmingly positive response, the official asserted, with people flocking to the facilities to receive the service.
As to whether the campaign would bring an end to traditional circumcision ceremonies, Chimbwandira said: “Maybe, because it [traditional means of circumcision] is barbaric; it has to end.”© 2014, .
Kenya: Circumcision Secretariat Closes
by John Muchangi
The secretariat that coordinated all voluntary medical male circumcision in Kenya the last six years has closed.
The Male Circumcision Consortium (MCC) started in 2007 in Kenya and has been key in promoting the male cut to prevent HIV in Kenya.
It was the body that reached out to the Luo Council and of Elders and Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga to popularise male circumsion Nyanza, where it is not traditionally practised.
Voluntary medical male circumcision has reached almost 700,000 men, up from 7,000 in 2008 when it was officially adopted in Kenya, according to the Ministry of Health.
MCC was the secretariat of the national taskforce on VMMC and linked the different groups carrying out medical male circumcision in Kenya.
It was funded by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was initially planned to close in 2012 but was extended by two more years.
[Rather typical of Western interventions in Africa. Come in with a hiss and a roar - "We're going to save you!" - then leave with their tails between their legs, having achieved - what?]
"MCC was instrumental in forming the Nyanza Provincial VMMC Task Force that spearheaded the rollout of VMMC from the start, when the ground was shaky, to the present when we are firmly on solid ground," said Prof Kawango Agot, director of Impact Research and Development Organisation. "I believe that without MCC, Kenya would not have led the rest of Africa in VMMC rollout."
Officials said they sought other funding sources in vain and the closure of MCC was likely to slow down the momentum in Kenya.
Male circumcision has been proven to cut the risk of men acquiring HIV by about 60 per cent and remains a key prevention strategy in Kenya.
["Proven" - based on 73 circumcised men who didn't get HIV less than two years after 5,400 men were circumcised, while 64 did. And "a key prevention strategy" when condoms are known to be much more effective.]
At least 1.5 million Kenyans are living with HIV and 58,000 die every year after reaching the Aids stage.
The consortium brought together representatives from the ministry of health, FHI 360, EngenderHealth and Nyanza Reproductive Health Society, representing the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Dr Athanasius Ochieng', who sat on MCC as the VMMC programme manager at the National AIDS and STI Control Programme (Nascop), says. "The government provides policy direction and infrastructure. However, our partners help in implementation of services, and therefore there is need to have a coordinated approach. The MCC has helped to ensure this."
The MCC has convened the task forces regularly -- monthly at first and later quarterly -- since the programme began in 2008.
Dr Elijah June Odoyo, currently the technical lead for VMMC at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Nairobi, says that through these studies and dissemination of their results, "the MCC has cultivated a culture where evidence guides programming."
[So without the MCC there will be no evidence? And then how will they know whether male genital cutting is causing HIV to fall, to rise, or having no effect?]
MCC Senior Manager Mathews Onyango said the task force approach championed by the MCC is now considered a "best practice." He adds that "it is now being applied in scaling up interventions to address other health issues, such as prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, tuberculosis and leprosy, and HIV/AIDS care and treatment."
Citizen News (Kenya)
Man Forcibly Circumcised In Meru
by Morgan Mueke
A man in Meru County was today, Friday forcibly circumcised after residents discovered that he had married before undergoing the cut.
The man's wife is said to have ‘let the cat out of the bag’ after a domestic quarrel.
Young men from the area frog marched him from one shop to the next fundraising for what they called ‘an expensive exercise’.
Circumcision according to Meru community is a major cultural ritual transition from a boy to a man.
They believe skipping it is like inviting ridicule and shame as a dirty man.
Residents in his village have been calling him a ‘Mwiji’, the Meru word for one who is not circumcised.
The youths said the man is ready now to be a man in the community.
Mail & Guardian (South Africa)
Department refutes political link to Israeli circumcision product approval
by Mia Malan, Amy Green
An Israeli male circumcision product has not been put on hold, says the South African health department.
The health department has denied media reports in a national newspaper last week that plans to introduce the non-surgical medical male circumcision device, PrePex, to the government’s medical male circumcision programme, have been put on hold because it’s an Israeli product.
According to the department’s medical male circumcision programme manager, Dayanund Loykissoonlal, no decision has been made yet. “The minister will make his decision on the basis of our research findings, which will be concluded in February 2015. We need to make sure that whatever device we implement in the country must be safe and effective for South Africans to use. It must do what it’s supposed to do – it must be effective for HIV prevention.”
PrePex consists of an elastic band that compresses the foreskin, restricting blood supply until the foreskin dries and can be cut off after a week of the device being administered, without stitches, bleeding or anaesthetic.
Endorsed by WHO
Trade union Cosatu has called for a boycott of Israeli products and has voiced its objection to PrePex because of its Israeli origins. But Loykissoonlal says research results, and not politics, will determine the department’s decision on whether or not to introduce the device. PrePex was the first non-surgical male circumcision device to be endorsed or ‘prequalified’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in May 2013.
Research has shown that medical male circumcision – the removal of the entire foreskin of the penis – can [perhaps] reduce a male’s risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex by [up to] 60%.
South Africa first introduced medical male circumcision in 2010, and has since circumcised 1.4-million men. The government’s national strategic plan on HIV for 2012 to 2016 aims to have medically circumcised 80% of men between 15 and 49 – or 4.3-million men – by the end of the 2015/2016 financial year.
Modelling studies published in the medical journal Plos Med in 2011 showed that if South Africa reaches this target, more than 20% of new HIV infections – or one million could be averted by 2025. According to study projections, about five medical male circumcisions are needed to prevent a single case of HIV infection. [This "modelling" is all based on a total of 73 circumcised men who did not get HIV, while 64 did, out of 5,400 circumcised in three trials.]
South Africa is however not on track with reaching this target, and, is looking at ways to speed up the programme. The introduction of a non-surgical device, in addition to surgical procedures where doctors cut off the foreskin, is one such way.
PrePex is currently being tested in eight pilot sites in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West to test the feasibility of introducing the device as part of its medical circumcision campaign.
“We have completed the first phase of the research, in line with WHO recommendations, looking at the pilot implementation of the device. We still have the other two phases, the passive and active surveillance, left to do. Active surveillance is putting the device out there in the actual health settings and doing about 1 000. PrePex placements on clients and following them up rigorously. And passive is looking at another 9 000.”
Over 200 men seek protection against forced circumcision
The annual circumcision season for the Bukusu ethnic community in western Kenya usually brings a festive atmosphere.
This year, however, at least a dozen adult males from three neighboring tribes that don’t practice the rite have been allegedly put to the knife by force since the start of the season in early August.
This has led to more than 200 of their fellow-tribesmen from the Turkana, Teso and Luo communities seeking refuge at a police station in an effort to avoid the same fate.
The police have agreed to provide them with security so they can go back to their homes unscathed.
Circumcision remains a highly polarizing issue among many ethnic groups in Kenya and Africa in general.
Despite this, it is not uncommon to find areas where practicing and non-practicing tribes share land and happily co-habit regardless of their differences in opinion over such customs and traditions.
As per Kenya’s Bukusu tribal custom, all men should be circumcised because it signifies the passage from childhood to adulthood.
However, David Ekai, one of those who were forcibly circumcised, says that the practice goes against his own ancestral tradition and that people should not be forced to undergo it.
The Bukusu are a sub-tribe of the Luhya community, the second-largest ethnic group in Kenya.
When a member of a nearby non-circumcising ethnic community marries a Bukusu woman, he may be “convinced” to be circumcised at the request of his Bukusu wife and in-laws.
Museveni Wants 'Old Style' Circumcision Shunned
by John Nalianya
Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has told the Bukusu and Bagisu tribes living in Kenya and Uganda to shun the old style of undergoing circumcision.
Museveni said while his government respected diverse culture, the two communities should break loose from the old retrogressive cultures.
"While we support you in keeping your culture find ways of trying to modernize this culture in tandem with the changing times ,"said Museveni.
Museveni said the traditional circumcision ceremony among the two communities had only promoted prostitution. He warned the tribes over myths that circumcised men could not contract the Aids virus.
"Stop lying to people on this traditional myths that people who are circumcised have low chances of being infected with Aids. You will die," he said.
Museveni was speaking at Namboboto shrines in Mbale, Eastern Uganda where he presided over the launch of the Bagisu circumcision ceremony popularly known as "Imbalu".
The ceremony that was attended by over ten Ugandan ministers, a host members of parliament and the Kenyan delegation led by Bungoma governor Kenneth Lusaka saw over ten [sic] boys circumcised.
Museveni who hails from Banyakonle tribe of Western Uganda, that don't undergo the cut, called on the elite from Bagisu and Bukusu communities to be in the forefront in encouraging the communities to shun the old culture.
Museveni said some of the bad old culture practiced by the two communities have made the two communities lives poor.
"Let's focus on the cultures that will create jobs for our children and improve our standards of living ," said Museveni.
Half a million boys killed and hospitalised by tribal circumcision
by by Glen Poole
Around half a million boys have been killed and hospitalised by circumcision in South Africa in the past eight years according to local reports, writes Glen Poole.
Research published by the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities (CRL) claims that more than 500,000 boys have ended up in hospital since 2008 after being subjected to traditional circumcision practices.
The South African media has also revealed that circumcision has killed more than 500 boys in the Eastern Cape region of the country in the past eight years, with the toll reaching 528 last month.
Traditional circumcision is seen as a rite of passage into manhood in some tribal communities. Boys face huge social and cultural pressure to take part in these dangerous rituals and males who haven’t been circumcised are not considered to be real men and face being ridiculed and ostracised.
Circumcision schools have become death traps
In the Eastern Cape of South Africa, boys attend initiation schools where they spend several weeks in the mountains during the circumcision season. “The initiation schools are seen by many as death traps for young people,” said the Reverend Dr Wesley Mabuza, Chair of CRL’s Rights Commission. “The South African society is being confronted with issues that force it to re-examine its ways of doing things”.
South Africa isn’t the only country where traditional circumcision practices are increasingly being recognised as a social problem. In Kenya, men from tribes who don’t practice circumcision are chased and rounded up by members of the Bukusu tribe and forcibly circumcised. Elsewhere, in Australia, the safety of ritual circumcision became a topic of public debate when three boys were airlifted to hospital after being injured in an aboriginal initiation ceremony.
Meanwhile the South Africa state is promoting circumcision as a weapon in the fight against HIV/AIDS and has set itself a goal of circumcising 4.3 million men and boys from 2010-2016. Both the ethics and efficacy of using circumcision to try and combat the disease have been heavily criticised but the state seems determined to hit its targets and is exploring the introduction of infant circumcision to help it reach its goals.
African boys killed by circumcision in UK
The social and cultural acceptance of male circumcision as a legitimate practice places boys in African families all over the world at risk. High profile incidents of African boys being subjected to forced circumcision in the UK include Goodluck Caubergs who died aged just 27 days old after being circumcised by a midwife and Angelo Ofori-Mintah who died aged 28 days old after being circumcised by a Rabbi. Last month we also reported the story of a trainee doctor who divorced her African-born husband after he had their son circumcised without her consent or knowledge.
Those campaigning against male circumcision in South Africa, like the group NOCIRC-SA are currently in a minority. Groups like CRL are not opposed to the ritual, but are focussed on reducing the obvious risks.
CRL Chairperson, Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva said: “We cannot have mothers lose their boys up there and be told only when the other boys come back. At this rate [the practice] is going to die of natural causes because….people are scared of taking their kids to initiation schools.”
U.S. court revives challenge to New York City circumcision law
by Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Friday revived an effort to block a New York City regulation that requires people who perform a Jewish circumcision ritual on infants that involves oral suction to first obtain parental consent.
A unanimous panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a trial judge had been too deferential to the city, which had linked the ritual to a deadly form of herpes, in rejecting a request by rabbinical groups for a preliminary injunction.
The three-judge panel directed U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan to instead use "strict scrutiny" to see if the regulation infringed the plaintiffs' free exercise of religion, violating the First Amendment.
At issue was the ritual metzitzah b'peh (MBP), in which a mohel who performs a circumcision uses oral suction to draw blood away from a wound on an infant's penis. The procedure is sometimes performed in ultra-Orthodox communities.
In September 2012, the New York City Board of Health voted to require mohels to obtain advance consent in which parents acknowledged the risk of herpes infection linked to the ritual.
The Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada, the International Bris Association and some rabbis sought to halt enforcement, but Buchwald denied the request, saying the regulation addressed "legitimate societal concerns."
Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston, however, wrote for the 2nd Circuit that the regulation was not neutral toward religion because it "purposefully singles out religious conduct performed by a subset of Orthodox Jews," and applies exclusively to them.
As a result she said Buchwald should have not reviewed simply whether there was a rational basis for the regulation.
"The Department (of Health) may have legitimate reasons for addressing HSV infection risk among infants primarily, if not exclusively, by regulating MBP," Livingston wrote. "On the present record, however, the plaintiffs have made a sufficient case for strict scrutiny by establishing that the risk of transmission by reason of metzitzah b'peh has been singled out."
The 2nd Circuit did not rule on the regulation's constitutionality.
The city's law department had no comment on the decision.
In a joint statement, the plaintiffs called the decision a "great victory," and said they remain ready to work with city officials "to protect our children's health while fully respecting and accommodating our religious practice."
The case is Central Rabbinical Congress of the United States and Canada et al v. New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 13-107.
Manganya Slams medical Male Circumcision
by Munthu Wakuda Leo
The incomprehensible messages about medical male circumcision exercise pose great danger of creating a group of innocent victims of the ongoing flying pestilence of HIV and Aids, Malawi's own top notch comedian, Michael "Manganya" Usi has varned.
During a press briefing in Blantyre on Wednesday, Usi said the information package about male circumcision, an exercise which is currently taking place in 6 districts of Malawi and targets 35,000 sexually active males lacks the necessary embodiment as on how long one should take to resume sexual activity after undergoing the surgery.
In his series of arguments, Usi said that the historical background of male circumcision which [d]ates way back to the biblical days portrays the cultural and traditional aspect of practice to have been designed for children and could only take place 8 days after birth.
He said this provided enough space for the wound to heal completely and most importantly the lengthy period for the foreskin of the male member to harden enough before indulging in sexual activity.
He said, more less, the same applied to the ethnic Yao and Lhomwe cultures where boys in their tender ages are circumcised.
Against this background, Usi wondered if at all, the media was aware that a lot of people (who are already sexually active) are opting for medical male circumcision primarily because they are fascinated by the much talked about value that circumcision adds to their sexual enjoyment hence that their chances of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STl's) including HIV and AIDS would be minimlsed. He said it is frightening to learn that many a jack out there are not so clear about the message coming forth with male circumcision.
"In my research I have heard some of those that got circumcised boasting about their unprotected sexual exploits on women because they believe they can not contract any STI vith HIV and AIDS inclusive," said Usi adding "this is enough cause for fear that a new group of innocent victims can be created."
The think tank also argued that medical male circumcision is a misplaced allocation of medical resources at the expense of many serious emergencies like High Blood Pressure and Diabetes.
Why a misplaced allocation? Usi explained: "It is because the resources used would greatly help those suffering from ailments that are killing our people nowadays not only those that report at hospital but by using the same initiative of going to various places of the country to commence health camps to treat those most challenging ailments."
Various commentators have since hailed Manganya for his timely intervention in this national undertaking if not properly handled can negatively impact many innocent lives.
"This Manganya has come out again from his normal busy schedule to make us wake up from our slumber and I know he's doing so because he has the interest of Malawians at heart," said Hastings Chikankheni, a Blantyre based academician.
"We need more of people like Manganya, a modem day patriot who uses brain power to spark a debate for the benefit of all our people not just a a few that are hiding in their selfish minds," said the other, Florence Majamanda, a house wife in the city of Lilongwe.
According to The Ministry of Health Spokesperson, Henry Chimbali, Medical Male Circumcision project was launched in October, 2011 with the aim of reducing risk of contracting srrs including HIV and AIDS among sexually active males The project is expected to roll out to all districts of Malawi.[It is not clear whether the Michael Manganya Usi of this story is the same as Michael Usi in the next.]
The Nation (Malawi)
Circumcision campaign worries Adra
by Frank Namangale
Adventist Development Relief Agency (Adra) has warned of unprecedented new wave of HIV infections in the country if campaign messages on circumcision are not disseminated correctly.
Adra, at a news conference in Blantyre on Wednesday, said despite the emphasis by the campaigners that circumcision only reduces the risk of contracting the virus, the information management on the subject is poor.
Adra deputy country director Michael Usi told the media that the circumcision campaigners that include government and other health-related non-governmental organisations (NGOs), do not, for example, tell when one may have sex after being circumcised.
Usi, whose organisation implements HIV and Aids projects among other programmes, said he was concerned that a lot of men are excited with circumcision and indulge in unprotected sex immediately the wound heals, believing they are safe.
“Malawi should not be alarmed if it is to wake up one day and face a new wave of infections. It is time we improved on circumcision campaign messages,” he said.
Usi regretted that other men were going for circumcision to enhance sex pleasure and that circumcision campaigners have failed to encourage people to continue abstaining, remain faithful or use a condom.
“The other thing is that when you go for circumcision, they don’t bother to ask you if you are HIV positive or not. There should have been direct messages warning women about this and it is regrettable that women have been completely left out of the campaign,” he said.
Right action, wrong reason
Times Live (South Africa)
Circumcision clip faces chop
by Rea Khoabane and Reitumetse Pitso
The Department of Health's plan to make the male circumcision device PrePex available has been put on ice - because it is an Israeli product.
The device was to have been introduced at clinics and hospitals next year to help fast-track male circumcision, which has been shown to reduce the likelihood of a man contracting HIV.
The department has a target of 4.3 million male circumcisions by 2016.
The department's deputy director-general for medical male circumcision, Dayanund Loykissoonlal, said the launch was being affected by the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has led to trade union federation Cosatu calling for a boycott of Israeli products.
Loykissoonlal said that though medical male circumcision needed boosting, and PrePex was a good option, "we don't want Cosatu on our backs about this".
Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the federation welcomed the department's decision to delay introducing the device.
"We're going to put pressure on businesses to prevent anything that comes from Israel being sold in this country," Craven said.
Mpho Maraisane, a director of the Aurum Institute, an HIV and TB consultancy, said the institute was involved in testing the device.
In the past two months it has run three studies in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West.
Eight hundred men were circumcised using the Israeli device.
Maraisane said the institute was unaware of the call for a product boycott.
The device was developed by Israeli healthcare company Circ Med Tech and has been prequalified and endorsed by the World Health Organisation.
The device consists of an elastic band that compresses [crushes] the foreskin against a rigid plastic ring.
The elastic band cuts off the blood supply to the foreskin, which loses sensation and withers[, rots - with an unpleasant smell - and dies].
The device has to be worn for a week, after which the dead foreskin is cut away by a doctor.
health-e (South Africa)
Government to promote infant male circumcision
by Ayanda Mkhwanazi
With government still far off its goal to medically circumcise 4.3 million by 2016, Department of Health officials say they plan to begin promoting medical male circumcision (MMC) among infants and young boys.
[So when men resist, do it to people who can't resist - how cynical is that?]
Since the 2010 launch of the HIV Counselling and Testing (HCT) campaign, almost 1.4 million men have been circumcised. This means that with only two years to go until the 2016 deadline, government has only reached about a third of its target.
“We need to improve our performance in the next two years,” said Dayanund Loykissoonlal, MMC programme manager at the National Health Department. “We did nearly half a million (circumcisions) in 2014 so we are moving but not fast enough.”
He added that the department planned to explore approaches to encourage parents to medically circumcise boys after birth and as young children.
[This is illegal:]
The department also continues to work with the traditional sector to improve safety and links with the HCT campaign, Loykissoonlal added.
Soweto general practitioner Dr Don Pupuma said he always encourages patients to circumcise their little ones as early as possible because the after effects are less severe.
“It is distinctly painless when you are a youngster (because) you have less erections,” said Pupuma speaking to journalists and medical professionals in Johannesburg yesterday.
Large clinical trials in South Africa, Kenya and Uganda found that medical male circumcision could reduce a man’s risk of contracting HIV by up to 60 percent.
[But no studies anywhere have shown any effect of infant genital cutting on HIV acquisition.]
With about six million people living with HIV in South Africa, CEO of the specialist HIV care and training company Careworks Harry Lake said the country must prioritise resources for medical male circumcision.
“We have got to put as many resources as possible into MMC so that we can reverse these numbers,” Lake said.
[There is no evidence anywhere yet that mass-circumcision has had any effect on HIV numbers.]
The Jewish Daily Forward
2 Mohels Banned After Infants Contract Herpes in Circumcision Rite
Just One Consent Form Collected by City in Two Years
by Paul Berger
New York City has banned two mohels from performing a controversial circumcision rite after they were suspected of infecting babies with herpes.
But the city's health department will not reveal their names.
Five infants have contracted herpes since September 2012, when the health department passed a regulation requiring mohels to get written consent from parents before using their mouth to suction blood from a circumcision wound - a religious rite known as metzitzah b'peh, or MBP.
MBP can transmit a strain of herpes from the mouth of a mohel to the infant and is potentially fatal to newborns, whose immune systems are underdeveloped. Infants who contract the disease can also suffer brain damage. The MBP rite is common in the ultra-Orthodox community.
In the past, some parents whose babies contracted herpes have refused to identify their mohel to city health officials. Of the five cases since the autumn of 2012, the health department has been able to identify just two mohels.
Only one of those mohels obtained written consent before performing the circumcision.
"In all of the cases, we have asked whether there were forms and, in the two cases where we were able to identify the mohel, we have requested them from him," a health department spokeswoman told the Forward on July 24. Of these two cases, one had a form, which he provided, the spokeswoman said. The other one did not. "The department issued orders banning both mohelim" from practicing MBP, she said.
The spokeswoman would not name the mohels, citing privacy concerns. She also did not respond to several emails asking how the ban would be enforced and how the public could know the mohels in question were banned if their names were not made public.
More liberal Orthodox Jewish leaders do not support the MBP practice and deplored the latest news about its consequences. "I would hope that any mohel who unfortunately has transmitted a disease via metzitzah b'peh would stop practicing metzitzah b'peh because of the safety of our children," said Rabbi Leonard Matanky, president of the Modern Orthodox Rabbinical Council of America.
But Matanky stopped short of calling for the health department to release the names of the banned mohels. The rabbinic leader said it would be presumptuous of him to comment, because he did not have enough information about the cases or the legal reasoning behind the city's decision.
World Bank funds Malawi circumcision programme
The World Bank has agreed to fund Malawi's voluntary medical male circumcision (VMMC) programme to the tune of MK6 billion (about US$15million) for the next four years, the Ministry of Health announced Friday.Ministry spokesperson Henry Chimbali said the funding would enable the Malawian government to roll-out the programme in remaining districts.
"We have been unable to expand the service to other districts due to inadequate resources to train service providers, formulation of communication messages and purchase of supplies therefore the funding will help fill this gap," he said.
He said the ministry would take the VMMC programme to the districts of Nkhotakota and Lilongwe in Central Region and Blantyre, Phalombe and Zomba in Southern Region, targeting 45,000 adult males aged 15 to 49 years.
He said VMMC was one of the HIV and AIDS interventions in the country. It reduces chances of contracting the virus by up to 60 percent.
VMMC also has other benefits such as hygiene and helps a man from developing cancer, he said.
[Ah yes, always the bait and switch.]
The World Health Organisation recommended the inclusion of male circumcision for countries with generalised HIV epidemics like Malawi in their national HIV prevention strategy.
Dozen Kenyans forced to undergo circumcision after wives complain
MOI’S BRIDGE, KENYA – Are some men a cut above the rest? A few tribes in Kenya seems to think so after they forced at least a dozen dudes to undergo circumcisions as part of a traditional ceremony. And who tipped-off the tribes that these men hadn’t gone under the knife before? Their unsatisfied wives.
Kenyan radio station West FM reports many tribal woman believe unsnipped men are dirty and don’t perform in bed as well as circumcised men do. Luckily for the wives [and unluckily for the husbands], the first three weeks of August marks “Circumcision Season” in Kenya and so they volunteered their unsuspecting husbands to take part in the festivities.
A happy mob sang circumcision songs, while the men were ambushed and then stripped naked. The men were then forced to take a mud bath before going to their local clinic for the quick snip. This might make the wives happier, but not everyone is thrilled with the trimming. About 50 tribal men have asked the local police to help them hide from the clippers. Hopefully, they can stay out of sight until the end of circumcision season, still a few weeks away.
[None of the many little jocularities will change this event from being a mass rape.]
Is there NOTHING too foolish about male genital cutting for its advocates to believe?
Male Circumcision Reduces HIV Risk Behaviour, Says Study
Men who opt for circumcision are more likely to engage in responsible sexual behaviour than their uncircumcised counterparts, a new study shows.
The study was published in the current July issue of the prestigious AIDS and Behaviour Journal titled Risk Compensation Following Male Circumcision: Results from a Two-Year Prospective Cohort Study of Recently Circumcised and Uncircumcised Men in Nyanza Province, Kenya.
The long term study compared the behaviours of 1, 588 newly circumcised men with 1,598 uncircumcised men for a period of 24 months in Nyanza province.
Researchers found that condom use among the newly circumcised men increased by 30 percent compared to the uncircumcised group where the use rose by only 6 percent.
This is consistent with earlier research which found that circumcised men consider condoms more comfortable and easier to use.
[This nonsense is of a piece with male genital cutting preventing tuberculosis or epilepsy, or sustaining the universe.]
Dr Robert Bailey, Principal Investigator of the study from the University of Illinois stated that the results of the study also showed that circumcised men reported declines in other HIV risk behaviours.
They included less frequent casual sex, reduced incidence of transactional (paid) sex and fewer sexual partners.
There have been concerns from some policy makers and stakeholders that VMMC could increase the spread of HIV by encouraging risky behaviours - such as indulgence in unprotected sex - among circumcised men who believe that the ‘cut’ offers them immunity against the disease.
“We hope that these findings will convince all those who’ve been sceptical about Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision (VMMC) to finally embrace it,” noted Professor Walter Jaoko, Chair of the University Of Nairobi Medical Microbiology Department and the Deputy Director of the Kenya Aids Vaccine Initiative (KAVI), who participated in the study.
He noted that the new study has significantly reinforced the effectiveness of VMMC with regards to it reducing HIV transmission.[Indeed if all these side effects are true, they are not due to circumcision, but to the education/counselling that goes with it, and may be entirely responsible for all the reduction in HIV supposedly due to circumcision.]
Mr James Macharia, Cabinet Secretary of Health stated that the government will continue rolling out VMMC programmes in regions where male circumcision has historically been low, especially in Nyanza province.
He noted that advocacy and sensitisation on the significance of VMMC is crucial to reduce stigma linked to the practice (mainly due to cultural beliefs) and promote its acceptance.
“We are also encouraging parents to circumcise their children while they are still young as it’s easier and beneficial to do so then,” he said.
Nyanza suffers the highest HIV prevalence in Kenya (15.1 percent) and contributes approximately one third of the nation’s new infections.
It is also the region with lowest rate of male circumcision (66 percent), based on the current Kenya Aids Indicator Survey (KAIS).
[And correlation is still not causation.]
Circumcising Men Cuts HIV Risk Among Women
by Michael Smith
Note that this study was published as an abstract and presented at a conference. These data and conclusions should be considered to be preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
[That hasn't stopped the media from splashing it everywhere - as here - as headline news.]
MELBOURNE, Australia -- The HIV-preventing benefits of circumcision were not just restricted to men, researchers said.
In a region of South Africa where HIV prevalence is high, women whose only sexual partners were circumcised had a significantly lower prevalence of HIV, according to Kevin Jean, PhD, of the French National Institute for Health and Medical research in Villejuif, France, and colleagues.
Moreover, a mathematical model suggested that the incidence of HIV among those women was also lower than among women whose partners included uncircumcised men, Jean reported at the International AIDS Conference here.
The finding -- the first evidence that women also benefit -- is a "compelling argument" to speed up the roll-out of voluntary male circumcision in Africa, Jean argued.[No mention of the Wawer study in Uganda, which suggested that circumcising men INcreases the risk to women.]
Three randomized trials have shown that men who are circumcised are at lower risk of acquiring HIV, including one in the Orange Farm township of South Africa.
Researchers have since demonstrated that a free program of voluntary circumcision could be widely accepted among men in the region, leading to lower HIV prevalence among circumcised men.
But the missing piece of the puzzle has been what happens to women when men are circumcised and the prevalence of HIV drops, as has happened in Orange Farm, a township of about 110,000 adults near Johannesburg.
[So this sample was also taken in Orange Farm. How many of the same men were used? Over-testing the same sample leads to less reliable data. The fact that ALL the studies claiming benefits emerge from the same three sites, and the same cluster of researchers, is increasingly suspicious.]
To find out, Jean and colleagues surveyed a total of 4,538 sexually active women, ages 15-49, in three waves, in 2007, 2010, and 2012.
Participants were asked about their age, ethnic group, occupation, age at first sexual intercourse, alcohol consumption, education, number of lifetime partners, and consistent condom use.
They also were asked about the circumcision status of their partners, and the researchers took a blood sample to analyze HIV prevalence in the cohort, Jean said.
Among the 1,363 women who reported only having had circumcised partners, the HIV prevalence was 22.4%, compared with 36.6% among the remaining 3,175.
[This is quite a loose association - women's HIV status vs her reporting of remembering ever had an intact partner. It can be confounded by faulty memory, lack of interest or misidentification.]
Mathematical modeling from the observed age-specific prevalence rates yielded estimated incidence, Jean said. Although the researchers have also measured new HIV cases in the cohort, that data is still being analyzed, he said.
The analysis showed that incidence among women who only had circumcised partners was 0.032 cases per person-year, compared with 0.039 per person-year among the remaining women.
[So circumcision reduces the risk by 0.006 cases per person-year? That's hardly impressive, even if true.]
The numbers yielded an incidence rate ratio of 0.83 and a risk reduction of 16.9% for the women who only had circumcised partners, Jean said. When the analysis was restricted to women 15 through 29, the risk reduction was 20.3%, he added.
The study extends previous research on circumcision in the region, commented Stefano Vella, MD, of the Istituto Superiore di Sanita in Rome, and a former president of the International AIDS Society.
Evidence is mounting that multiple prevention measures will be needed to slow the HIV/AIDS pandemic, he said, and circumcision seems likely to play an important role since it has been shown to offer partial protection for men.
The evidence that the procedure also reduces the risk of HIV among women is of "paramount importance," he told reporters.
[Intactivist] Dr. Paul Fleiss dies at 80; father of 'Hollywood madam' Heidi Fleiss
by David Colker
Pediatrician Paul Fleiss, who pleaded guilty in 1995 to conspiring to hide profits made by his daughter, convicted "Hollywood madam" Heidi Fleiss, died Saturday morning at his home in Los Angeles, said his cousin, Joel Fleiss. Paul Fleiss was 80.
The cause of death was unclear. Paul Fleiss' son, Jesse, heard him having trouble breathing while still in bed, Joel Fleiss said. A call was made to 911 and paramedics pronounced Fleiss dead at the scene.
Fleiss, who was known for having a gentle bedside manner and devoted patients, was still practicing medicine. He was the rare doctor who made house calls, and although he was pediatrician to children of several Hollywood celebrities, he also took on patients whose families could not afford to pay him.
Dr Paul Fleiss
(at the 6th International Symposium on Genital Integrity
in Sydney, Australia in 2000)
[Despite being Jewish, Dr Fleiss was a strong opponent of infant circumcision. With others he wrote articles for medical journals debunking medical claims, and a book, "What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Circumcision"]
Hundreds of supporters crowded into the courtroom for his sentencing in 1995 for the crime that prosecutors said involved Fleiss signing the mortgage on a luxury home his daughter used as a headquarters for her call-girl ring. "I never intended to cheat or lie or steal," Fleiss said outside the courtroom. "I only wanted to help my daughter."
He ... was sentenced to three years' probation, 625 hours of community service and a fine of $50,000.
Paul Fleiss was born Sept. 8, 1933, in Detroit. He trained as a pharmacist and osteopath, moving to Los Angeles after a law was passed in California in the early 1960s allowing an osteopath to convert to an M.D. degree. He took his residency in pediatrics at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.
In addition to Fleiss' daughter Heidi and son Jesse, he is survived by daughters Amy, Shana and Kim. His son Jason died in a drowning accident.
13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy, Children's Rights, and Infant Circumcision
The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children's Right, "Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change," will be hosted by the University of Colorado at Boulder on July 24-26, 2014.
The symposium will promote interdisciplinary dialogue about the often controversial topic of genital cutting practices of male, female, and intersex children, and on strategies for protecting children from unnecessary genital alteration.
The conference features speakers from around the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Israel, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Liberia, and Finland. Included are experts in healthcare law, ethics, urology, midwifery, anthropology, pediatrics, medicine, psychology, foreskin repair and restoration, and children's rights. See the program for presentation details.
Several conference presenters are Jewish; some will be speaking specifically about the problems inherent in Jewish ritual circumcision. Jewish presenters include: psychologist Ronald Goldman, who will be speaking about the psychology of circumcision; award-winning journalist Jennifer Margulis will be speaking about the business of circumcision in connection with her recent book The Business of Baby (Scribner 2013); Berkeley, California novelist Lisa Braver Moss will be speaking about non-circumcising families in the Jewish community; social activist Eran Sedah will be speaking (via Skype) about the anti-circumcision movement in Israel; psychiatrist Richard Schwartzman will be speaking about unconscious cruelty--the emotions behind genital cutting; writer/publisher Rebecca Wald will be speaking about the Beyond the Bris website; and documentary filmmaker Francelle Wax will be screening an excerpt from her forthcoming film.
In addition to three days of presentations, three films will be screened in the evenings including: Intersexion by Grant Lahood, John Keir, and Mani Bruce Mitchell; The Hidden Trauma: Circumcision in America (excerpt) by Brendon Marotta; and American Secret: The Circumcision Agenda (excerpt) by Francelle Wax.
These Symposia have taken place every other year since 1989, alternating between the United States and a location abroad. They are an important forum for advancing knowledge and thought on these issues, and for connecting people in the Genital Autonomy Movement from all over the world.
The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children's Rights is sponsored by The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (USA), Intact America (USA), Genital Autonomy (UK and Australia), and the Sexpo Foundation (Finland). It is locally organized by NOCIRC of Colorado.
Press passes for the symposium are available - please contact Gillian Longley.
Program and registration information is available at: www.GenitalAutonomy2014.com
You can read more about previous nocirc.org/symposia/
Read the full story at www.prweb.com/releases/2014/07/prweb12028739.htm
New Age (South Africa)
‘Initiation school teachers stole my pigs’
by Montsho Matlala
A subsistence pig farmer yesterday decried the police’s failure to make an arrest after 20 of his pigs were allegedly stolen by a group of people from a local cultural initiation camp in Jane Furse, Limpopo.
Mafole Machika, 57, told The New Age yesterday that cultural initiation camp teachers from Ga-Phaahla village stole his pigs on May 23.
“The mob – armed with sticks, knobkerries, axes and pangas – stormed my yard undressed to their waists,” he said. “They took my 20 pigs while shouting that I was a worthless man who had not been culturally circumcised.”
Machika said the young men also swore at him in front of his grandchildren.
“And the police officers in Nebo were disgusting,” he said.
“The station commander told me that it was the traditional law of the land that I be treated that way because I was leshoboro (uncircumcised). Even now nobody has been arrested and my pigs are gone.”
Machika also claimed the two senior police officers who ridiculed him were friends of the local traditional leader.
“All I want is justice. Every year during cultural initiation rituals, gangs of boys and men insult me about my private parts.
“Three years ago I even sent my two sons to the cultural initiation school and they have graduated,” the pig farmer said.
“My sin is that I didn’t go to the mountains? But why are so many men in the village who did not go there not harassed?”
Provincial police spokesperson Col Ronel Otto confirmed the incident. “At this stage, I still have to find out more details and I will make a comment soon,” Otto said.
House of Traditional Leaders chairperson Kgosi Malesela Dikgale has condemned the incident and called on traditional leaders to help victims of harassment by cultural initiation school “fanatics”.
“Any form of harassment is not a part of our culture. Some of the pillars of cultural initiation is respect for everyone and integrity,” Dikgale said.
The Tablet (UK)
Former Knights of Malta member pleads guilty to abuse of young boys
A former sacristan for the Knights of Malta has pleaded guilty to nine sex offences including those against boys as young as 11 he had met in the 1960s and 70s.
Vernon Quaintance, a companion of the Order of Malta, served at the Knights’ regular Mass at the chapel in St John and St Elizabeth Hospital in North London.
On Wednesday this week a court heard that Quaintance, 71, was a paedophile who also ran a pro-circumcision group. Southwark Crown Court heard he accumulated images as recently as 2011.
He was also a leader of the Gilgal Society, a group claiming to promote male circumcision and “its benefits in terms of health, sexual satisfaction and self-image.”
In 2012, he was found guilty of possessing nine hours of child pornography on video tapes. This week he pleaded guilty to five counts of indecency with a child between 1966 and 1976 and four counts of possession of indecent images. An additional count of sexual assault alleged to have taken place in 2011 on a child was left to lie on file.
Judge Anthony Leonard QC adjourned sentencing until September. He said there was a “very real likelihood” of a significant custodial sentence. Quaintance was released on conditional bail, with the requirement to have no unsupervised contact with anyone under 18.
Concerns about Quaintance’s behaviour had come to the attention of members of the Grand Priory, a senior body of knights, who were later found not to have reported the concerns to the relevant authorities. Quaintance had been banned from serving and attending the social club at St Bede’s, Clapham Park, South London.
An inquiry into the matter by Baroness (Julia) Cumberlege found that three of the knights made a catalogue of serious errors in dealing with the concerns. The three later apologised.
Southern Eye (Zimbabwe)
Senators demand circumcision ban
MDC-T's Matabeleland South senator Sithembile Mlotshwa yesterday moved a motion urging a ban on circumcision of minors saying the country is "creating a generation of useless men".
by Veneranda Langa
Mlotshwa moved the motion in Senate saying there were no benefits to infant male circumcision as children did not indulge in sexual activity.
She said infant circumcision could not mitigate the spread of HIV and cervical cancer.
"I'm afraid we are creating a generation of useless men because if one of your limbs is not functioning properly after the mishaps of circumcision then you will be disabled. These children do not indulge in sexual activity anyway," Mlotshwa said.
"After mutilating these children's sexual organs (in failed circumcision) the future generations will judge us and by the time these children need to taste how these organs should function we will be long dead and history will judge us on why we allowed the circumcision of children to continue."
Mlotshwa challenged all ministers to get circumcised if the programme was as good as its promoters claimed.
She said there was a side of the story that was not being told to the nation about male circumcision.
"In Somalia women's clitorises are mutilated to ensure girls do not enjoy sex," Mlotshwa said.
"That is because they give them in marriage to old men who cannot satisfy them and mutilating them is to ensure they do not discover the pleasures of sex.
"Circumcision of young boys is tantamount to genital mutilation and we are afraid that in the government will end up saying women's clitorises should be cut because they are just taking everything that comes without doing proper research."
She said money meant for infant circumcision should instead go towards treatment centres for cervical cancer.
"The Creator made a foreskin for a purpose. Are we not going to have a generation of men without foreskins? Most of the doctors who circumcise are not circumcised themselves and where do they put those foreskins?" she asked.
MDC-T Masvingo senator Misheck Marava seconded the motion saying men constituted only 48% of the population and their organs cannot be tampered a with.
"We cannot play with risks by tampering with their organs because they may not be able to rectify failures," he said.
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central senator Damian Mumvuri said many parents were making mistakes by deciding for their children.
Under New Management?
July 15, 2014
Gilgal Society website re-opens, rebranded
by Hugh Young
A new pro-circumcision website has replaced that of the defunct Gilgal Society. This coincides with the beginning of the trial of the head of the Gilgal Society for offences against boys.
The trial of Vernon Quaintance began in Southwark Crown Court on Monday for charges of indecency, indecent assault, sexual assaults and possessing indecent images. The court heard argument yersterday about whether images involving circumcision were indecent.
The Gilgal website has been frozen since Quaintance was first convicted of possessing indecent images in April 2012. A message said that "as a result of major computer failure" its publications were unavailable. Single copies of the same or similar publications from the "Circumcision Helpdesk" are free. It remains to be seen how the several leaflets by Professor Brian Morris again being offered from the new site are branded - with the Gilgal imprint, as before, or without, as he reissued them after Quantance's first conviction.
July 14, 2014
Quaintance trial begins: Gilgal goes, even from Morris website
by Hugh Young
The trial of a high-profile circumcision advocate for crimes against boys began in London on Monday. This coincides with the disappearances of his online pro-circumcision society and the last reference to it on the website of a prominent Australian circumcision advocate.
Vernon Quaintance went on trial (case No T20130462) in Court 8 at Southwark Crown Court at 10:30 am.
In January he denied 10 charges relating to young boys between 1966 and 2011. He is accused of four charges of indecency with children under 16 between 1966 and 1974.
He also faces one charge of sexually assaulting a young boy in 1974 and a further charge of indecent assault on another young boy in 1966.
The four remaining charges relate to indecent images of children ranging from level one to level five in severity discovered at Quaintance's home in 2011.
Much of the day was taken up with an argument about what could be included in charges of possessing indecent images. A statement by Quaintance claimed that pictures concerning circumcision on his computers were medical or health-related, and not indecent.
Quaintance was the head of the pro-circumcision Gilgal Society, which published the first editions of the series of pro-circumcision pamphlets written by Professor Brian Morris of the University of Sydney. The Gilgal Society website has recently had all its files removed, including advertisements for Professor Brian Morris's leaflets.
Soon after Quaintance was first charged in April 2012, the Gilgal logo was removed from the leaflets available from Professor Morris's website. A page of "circumcision humor" including a poem by "Vernon Quantance" remained until the middle of 2013. A link to a list of "possible circumcisers in Australia and New Zealand" carrying a Gilgal Society logo has been removed since July 3, leaving a "404: file not found" message.
Click for larger
Circumcision season claims another young initiate
Ncisa Village, Eastern Cape - The spotlight is again falling on traditional initiation schools following the death of another initiate. It brings the number of fatalities in the province to thirty-two since the start of the winter circumcision season.
Kenya: Male PEV Sexual Abuse Victims Didn't Testify, Says Nyaundi
by Jillo Kadida
Men who were sexually abused during the 2007-08 post-election violence did not testify before the Kenya National Human Rights Commission for fear of stigmatisation, a court was told yesterday.
Former Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission boss Patricia Nyaundi told the court Naivasha registered the highest prevalence of sodomy and forceful circumcision during the 2007-08 violence. The victims did not share their ordeals with commissions that probed the violence.
"My lord, the commission noted that it was harder for men to report sexual abuse because they didn't have a support system," Nyaudi said yesterday as she gave her testimony in a case in which sexual violence victims are seeking compensation from government.
She said although women who go through sexual violence can speak about it, something needs to be done for male victims to talk. Nyaundi said the problem stems from the implementation of the Sexual Offences Act.
The case was filed on behalf of the victims by the Coalition on Violence against Women, Independent Medico-Legal Unit, International Commission of Jurists Kenya Chapter and Physicians for Human Rights.
They have sued the Attorney General, the Independent Policing Oversight Authority, Inspector General of Police. The then ministers of Medical Services and Public Health have also been sued. The hearing continues this morning.
July 11, 2014
200 WILL PERFORM NON-CUTTING BRIS
by Hugh Young
The movement to name newborn Jewish boys without the surgery of circumcision has reached a milestone - 200 celebrants (officiants) are available to perform the ceremony. More than 120 of these celebrants are rabbis.
Called Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace), this alternative naming ceremony may correspond in most ways with traditional Brit (or Bris) Milah, except that there is no cutting of the baby.
"They're especially happy ceremonies, for that reason," says Mark Reiss, M.D.
Dr Mark Reiss
For 14 years, Dr Reiss, of San Francisco, has been recruiting celebrants of Brit Shalom for his webpage http://shalom.notlong.com. He estimates that 300-500 boys are welcomed into their US Jewish communities with Brit Shalom ceremonies every year. They are now available in most US states, several Canadian provinces and other countries. Twelve of the celebrants are in Israel.
"The celebrants include rabbis, cantors and other lay leaders, who need not reject circumcision themselves, but want to accommodate parents who do. New celebrants are always welcome."
National Post (Canada)
Doctor cleared after complaint over
Jewish Daily Forward
Anti-Semitism Envoy Wades Into Europe Circumcision Wars
Ira Forman Uses Bully Pulpit To Defend Rite
by Ron Kampeas
Washington - The Obama administration's anti-Semitism monitor has added an issue to his office's portfolio: defending circumcision in Europe.
Circumcision has become a top focus for Ira Forman, the State Department's special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism. He has been using the pulpit his office provides to warn European governments that moves to ban ritual circumcision could lead to the demise of their countries' Jewish communities.
[There are no moves to ban it, only defer it.]
"Because circumcision is essentially universal among Jews, this can shut down a community, especially a small vulnerable community," Forman said.
[That does not follow.]
No European country has outright banned the practice, but there is increasing pressure to do so, and some countries have imposed restrictions such as requiring medical supervision. Forman is the State Department's third anti-Semitism monitor. While he has maintained his predecessors' focus on anti-Semitic acts and rhetoric worldwide, he said that protecting circumcision has become urgent because calls for bans are gaining legitimacy, particularly in Northern Europe.
In the past six months, Forman has raised the issue in meetings with ambassadors to Washington from Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. He says he plans to raise it with envoys from other Northern European countries, where pressures to ban circumcision are most acute.
He also has asked the relevant desks at the State Department to have U.S. diplomats raise the issue in their meetings in their host countries.
Forman, who is Jewish, contrasted efforts to prohibit circumcision with bans on ritual animal slaughter - in place in some countries for decades - which at least have workarounds, for instance by importing frozen kosher meat.
"Circumcision, if you ban it, you have three choices: You do it underground illegally, you take a little 8-day-old baby across state lines - and if you have contiguous states [with bans], doing that becomes harder and harder - or three, you emigrate," he said.
[He left off "four, you stop doing it."]
A comprehensive 2012 survey of European Jews by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights found substantial majorities of Jews classifying a hypothetical ban on circumcision as a "big problem."
"I will wait for the developments concerning a statutory regulation on the Brit Mila," the survey quoted a German respondent as saying, using the Hebrew phrase for ritual circumcision. "This will be crucial for my decision on whether or not to leave Germany."
Leaders of Jewish communities in countries that are contending with public pressure to ban the practice similarly warn that such a move could spur an exodus of Jews. "I have said that a country which saved the Jews during the Second World War, if they would establish any law against circumcision, they would have done what Hitler wanted to do," said Rabbi Bent Lexner, chief rabbi to Denmark's Jewish community of 7,500.
European officials say their countries have instituted protections for circumcision in response to public pressures.
"A ban on circumcision is not in question for the Norwegian government," Frode Overland Andersen, a spokesman for his country's Foreign Ministry, told JTA. German and Danish officials have issued similar assurances.
Jewish communal officials appreciate the assurances that circumcision will not be banned. Nonetheless, Jewish communal officials warn that the danger of circumcision bans in Europe has not substantially diminished.
"The trend is really moving against us in one considerable way, and that's in terms of general European public opinion in Northern and Western Europe, particularly Scandinavia," said Rabbi Andrew Baker, the American Jewish Committee's director of international Jewish affairs.
Calls to ban circumcision gained momentum after the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe passed a resolution last October that called for a public debate on the "rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity." It lumped male circumcision with female genital mutilation and corporal punishment.
The assembly, however, lacks power. In April, the council's leadership advised members that male circumcision was "by no means comparable" to female genital mutilation and recommended against further attempts to target the practice.
Nonetheless, children's ombudsmen in a number of Northern European countries have called in recent years for restrictions on the practice, as have medical professionals' groups. Jewish leaders say that as Northern Europe becomes increasingly secularized, its populace tends to place more value on freedom from religious coercion than on freedom to practice religion.
"These are post-religious and post-ritual countries," said Rabbi Michael Melchior, the Israel-based chief rabbi to Norway's 800 Jews. "And the vast majority of the population don't have a clue what ritual is. They see ritual in general as something which belongs to some dark evil - they have medieval conceptions [of rituals] which have nothing to do with modern society."
In one way, some Scandinavian governments have nodded toward circumcision opponents by including in their laws requirements that circumcision take place under medical supervision. Norway's parliament passed such a law last month. Norwegian Jewish leaders applauded the measure because it allowed the rite to be carried out under a physician's supervision.
In Sweden, said Lena Posner-Korosi, president of the country's 20,000-strong Jewish community, circumcision is permitted until two months, which effectively shuts out the Muslim community, in which boys are often circumcised as toddlers.
Anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe helps drive the anti-circumcision clamor, Jewish communal leaders say. If anything, sensitivities in Northern Europe about the 20th-century record on Jews are what has led governments to protect circumcision.
"One of the important parliamentarians told me it is convenient for us to put the Jews at the front of this issue," Melchior said. "Because in the public in Norway still, it is much more difficult to go out against the Jews than the Muslims."
Jewish officials said that anti-Semitism, while a concern in other areas, is not a factor in the debate, although Jewish stereotypes have emerged in its wake. When pro-circumcision activists in Germany cited American studies showing that the practice was practically harmless and had possible medical benefits, opponents suggested that American Jewish doctors had skewed the studies.
[Some obscure opponents perhaps, but the main opposition case was the benefits are exaggerated or bogus.]
The key to preserving circumcision, according to Ervin Kohn, president of Norway's Jewish community, is lobbying the political class, which is sensitive to international image.
"For most of the Norwegian people it is strange, so they believe all sorts of things and don't know too much and are easily impressionable," he said, regarding views on circumcision. "Those who know are the politicians - they made the right decision."
Jewish communal leaders in the Scandinavian countries said that blunt intervention from abroad could backfire, noting the hackles that were raised when Israel's government issued dire warnings against banning circumcision after last year's Council of Europe vote.
However, they welcome Forman's more subtle overtures, saying that the Obama administration's signaling of its interest in ensuring a future for European Jewish communities has proven salutary.
"I'm still on a high from presenting President Obama to the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah," said Posner-Korosi, describing a visit to Stockholm last year during which Obama also honored Raoul Wallenberg, the Swedish diplomat who risked his life to save tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. "It conveyed such a strong message, not just about Raoul Wallenberg but about anti-Semitism, about recognizing minorities."
Looking out for minorities is the point, Forman said.
[The minority at risk here is boy babies with no voice or choice.]
"Our priority is to make sure these communities don't go out of existence," he said. "It would be a tragedy not just for the communities. It would be a tragedy for Europe, for these cultures."
[Does Judaism really stand or fall on infant male genital cutting...?]
Sun News Online
Baby born with female, male sex organs
by Gilbert Ekezie and Doris Obinna
When little Success Chisom Aniekwe was born one year ago, joy filled the hearts of his parents, Mr. & Mrs. Emmanuel Aniekwe, from Anam Community, in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State. He was a chubby baby, full of life.However, the baby’s birth took a twist about eight days thereafter, when it was discovered that he had two sex organs, male and female. Ever since, pain has become a constant companion of the baby.
Now frail, with constant pain, especially when urinating, which comes through what would pass for female private part, under a little penis, the baby has been in and out of hospital, where tests and surgeries have been recommended.
Recounting her predicament, mother of the baby, Mrs. Chekwube Aniekwe, told Daily Sun that the scan she did, while pregnant, showed that the baby was a girl. She, however, stated that her confusion started when the woman, who gave the baby its first bath said the sex organ was not pronounced. The confusion increased when the mother moved to circumcise the baby, as the family wanted to circumcise its female children.
“Eight days of the baby’s birth, we went for the circumcision, when the woman noticed that my baby had both male and female organs. When the woman wanted to cut her clitoris, she said the baby was not a girl. She advised us to go back to his hospital of birth,” she stated
[So would that have been a cruel mutilation intended to destroy her sexuality forever, or a healthy medical procedure with lifelong benefits for every boy and man? Inquiring minds want to know.]
The confused mother of three explained that she went back to the hospital, where the medical director examined the baby.
She said: “When the doctor looked at the baby’s case, he quickly referred us to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital. When we got there, we were made to understand that we needed to do some tests before surgeries could be done to correct the anomaly. At the hospital, a pharmacist directed us to Isolo General Hospital. On getting to there, they said they could not handle the case.”
The parents’ quest for solution did not stop there, as they also went to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.
Mrs. Aniekwe said: “When we got LUTH, we were told surgeries were needed but would come only after some tests. We have not been able to do the tests because of lack of finance.”
“The last time we went to LUTH was in December 2013. At that time, one of the specialists told us that there would likely be two surgeries. We were also asked to do a hormone test to know whether the baby has womb, to know if another surgery would be added.”
“We made several attempts to raise money for the necessary tests but we could not and that is why we have not gone back to the hospital till now. Presently, we do not know what it would cost us to do the tests and the surgeries,” she stated.
The woman further explained her baby’s condition has caused the family a lot of pain and embarrassment. “I am being embarrassed by the problem of the baby. Everywhere, I go, people get confused, as to whether the baby is a boy or girl. Initially, I used to dress the baby like girl. I also pierced the ears and put earrings. But as time passed, the baby’s look changed to that of a boy. People tell me my baby resembles a boy. Within me, I know that there is a problem. It was when the face started changing to a boy that I started giving him a hair-cut and dressing him like a boy, even when the ears are pierced,” she stated.
Her husband, Emmanuel, described the case as a very serious challenge that has confronted the family. He, however, expressed optimism that surgeries, as doctors have recommended, would remedy the situation.
“I will be very grateful if I could be assisted financially, so that the surgeries would be done. The baby is always in pains and too tender to be undergoing such. ...
Circumcision death toll rises, four in court
At least 26 boys have died since the start of the winter initiation season because of botched circumcisions, the Traditional Affairs department said on Friday.
"The total number of young boys that have lost their lives since the start of the initiation season has risen to 26," said Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela.
"Twenty-one initiates are from the Eastern Cape, four from Mpumalanga, and one from the Western Cape."
On Thursday, 104 boys were admitted for dehydration, septic circumcision, gangrene, and other related injuries.
Seven people have been arrested for operating illegal initiation schools in the Eastern Cape. "The government cannot watch as our children are dying in numbers. This must come to an end," Bapela said.
Meanwhile, four people appeared in the Libode Magistrate's Court in the Eastern Cape this week in connection with illegal circumcisions, the National Prosecuting Authority said on Friday.
Three male teenagers, aged between 16 and 17, appeared on Thursday on charges of unlawful circumcision after they circumcised another 16-year-old boy in a village near Libode, said NPA Mthatha region spokesperson Luxolo Tyali.
"The young initiate was rescued by the police on Tuesday and is currently in a serious condition at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital at Mthatha."
On Wednesday, 24-year-old Samkelo Mvubu appeared in the same court on two counts of murder and two counts of contravening the Health Standards Traditional Circumcision Act No 6 of 2001.
Mvubu allegedly circumcised two of the initiates who died on Monday at Luthubeni village near Libode.
The Daily Monitor (Uganda)
NGO probes misuse of Shs400m meant for male circumcision
by David Mafabi
Budaka- The Management Sciences for Health [formerly Star E project], an NGO, has opened investigations into alleged mismanagement of Shs420 million [$US 159,880] meant for Kaderuna Health Centre III by its staff.
The money was meant for male circumcision to prevent the spread of HIV/Aids.
The Daily Monitor learnt that the focal person for ART programme, Mr Abdulla Wambedde, and a doctor had allegedly been drawing Shs18 million every month for the last two years but never did the work.
Members of the Kaderuna Health Centre III led by Mr Hassan Kibwika, accused Mr Wambedde of mismanaging the male circumcision programme and diverting funds.
The Budaka District speaker, Mr Abdu Kagoda, said he heard of MSH [Star E] and that they promised to come to the area to perform male circumcision, but they never appeared.
“They promised to come on several occasions, we lined up people from Kaderuna and we have never seen them. And yet as a district we know money was released for the activity for two years,” said Mr Kagoda.
The MSH chief of party, Dr Edward Ssemafumu, said they had been releasing money for the programme at the facility but received reports from the ground that the money never reached.
When contacted, Mr Wambedde denied any wrong doing, saying he had reported the matter to police against people spreading malicious information about him.
Initiation death toll at 23
Johannesburg - Twenty-three initiates have died since the start of the winter initiation season because of botched circumcisions and 104 others have been admitted to hospitals for related injuries, Deputy Traditional Affairs Minister Obed Bapela said on Thursday.
“It is saddening to report the increased number of initiates who have lost their lives to 23,” he said in a statement.
“This is despite all the efforts we have made.”
Nineteen of the deceased were from the Eastern Cape, three from Mpumalanga, and one from the Western Cape.
Bapela said the 104 others were admitted for dehydration, septic circumcision, gangrene, and other related injuries.
He sent his condolences to the affected families and said government condemned illegal circumcision schools.
“The rite of passage is not a licence for abuse of the initiates but a process that is ushering these young men to adulthood and a cultural practice that needs to be respected,” said Bapela. [Why should it be respected when it ushers them to death or emasculation?]
“The ministry of co-operative governance and traditional affairs continues to call on all members of the community to report any illegal initiation schools to the police.”
Liberia: Urgent Help - Boy Suffering From Circumcision Error in Need
Little, Phillip Zinnah, Jr., one year, seven months old who is on the verge of losing his manhood after a medic performing circumcision on him completely cut off his penis is getting glimmers of hope with a Liberian making frantic efforts to get the boy seek treatment abroad.
Zinnah met the unfortunate situation on 5th of January on Sunday, 4:15 pm when one Dr. Nimley who was hired to circumcise him wrongly performed the operation, cutting off the pennies and leaving the boy to bleed profusely.
The boy could be on his way to getting relief as a Liberian Charlesetta Nougbode Williams has told FrontPageAfrica that she written the British Embassy, the German Embassy, to get visa all intended to get support for the boy and is at the time sending out appeals for support.
Charlesetta said Brussels Airlines will give a discount and at least a few ticket or even all for FREE but that will only be done when a Visa is available and booking done for the 9th of July.
"As per the doctor the penis is staying too long in the abdomen. It is like it is in a cup of water and need to be removed, and I am doing my best....", the Liberian said.
Eye Witness News (South Africa)
EC initiate death toll rises
by Shamiela Fisher (ed. Gadeeja Abbas)
CAPE TOWN - At least 13 boys have died since the start of the winter initiation season, the Eastern Cape Health Department said on Tuesday.
Officials say hospitals are also overcrowded with severely ill initiates seeking medical assistance.
Early on Tuesday, an initiate in Mthatha died as a result of a botched circumcision.
The department's Sizwe Kupelo urged police and the Nationa Prosecuting Authority to bring criminal charges against the perpetrators.
We have se aside R20 million [$US 1,860,550] for the situation. We are concerned and are asking locals to help get the situation under control."
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