Intactivism News

July - August, 2015

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News items are copied to Circumstitions News blog (which takes comments)

- thanks to Joseph4GI

The Maravi Post (Malawi)

August 30, 2015

Is voluntary male medical circumcision de-campaigning Condom use?

by da Kazembe

Blantyre, August 29, 2015: Seventeen-year-old Homic Muluwani of Bangwe Township is excited that at last he has had the most taunted voluntary male medical circumcision (VMMC) which to him certifies him to having unprotected sex now that he presumes he will be safe.

He is one of the more than 2000 males circumcised in the recent VMMC campaign which according to the Blantyre district VMMC coordinator, Jean Mhango was a success.

Much as the figures indicate the campaign as being successful, it is the mindset of the VMMC clients which seem to defeat the intended purpose for VMMC which is 60 percent risk reduction of HIV infection in HIV negative males who undergo the procedure.

Homic Muluwani and his friends tell the dangerous story as they wait for their turn to get circumcised at South Lunzu VMMC camp.

“I have had a girlfriend for the past two years and we have been having protected sex for fear of the HIV virus but this time I am going to enjoy unprotected sex since I am sure of my safety following the medical circumcision,” says Muluwani.

The 60 percent HIV risk reduction that follows after VMMC is surely misconceived in most males who are flocking for the procedure for they take it as a guarantee to having unprotected sex.

This leads to the query as to whether condom use is not being de-campaigned by VMMC promotion.

The Ministry of Health spokesperson, Adrian Chirumba says much as the opinion may arise from such sentiments, a study has not been carried out to validate this.

“Our implementing partners in VMMC such as Banja La Mstogolo (BLM), Population Services International (PSI) also have no records to validate the opinion,” says Chikumbe.

According to PSI one of the Ministry of Health’s implementing partners in VMMC, Malawi is working to scale up 605 coverage of male circumcision among negative males ages 10-34.

PSI national communications coordinator for VMMC, Lionel Chipeta points out that Malawi is working to scale up to 60 percent coverage of male circumcision among HIV-negative males aged from 10 to 34.

“VMMC is recognized as a high priority intervention in the Malawi National HIV and Aids Strategic Plan 2015-2020 and the National HIV Prevention Strategy 2015-2020,” explains Chipeta.

Martha Kamela of Mbayani Township finds her husband is better off uncircumcised due to the same misconception of the 60 percent risk reduction for she thinks once he is circumcised he will be at liberty to have unprotected sex with other females.

“Since my husband will know that he is safe from contracting the virus, chances are he will be cheating more as compared to now where he is afraid of contracting the virus,” says Kamela.

Kamela states that most men want to go under the knife as a guarantee to go and have unprotected sex without fear.

According to the VMMC South Lunzu site supervisor, Joseph Mdzinga, males aged between 10 and 19 patronized the services.

Looking at the age group, one can easily conclude that those accessing VMMC are still in the youthful exploring age hence the danger in the misconception.

The World Health Organisation HIV prevention package includes Abstinence Being faithful and Condomise (ABC), Post Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) as well as VMMC and if the later seems to be defeating the condom use as per the perception, one wonders whether VMMC will yield the intended results, come 2020.

Israel Hayom

August 7, 2015

Baby's penis reattached in hospital after brit goes wrong

After circumcision is botched, family members keep severed tissue on ice until baby arrives at hospital • "We are optimistic about the baby's chances of recovery," surgeon says after operation • Unclear what led mohel to remove part of baby's urethra [glans].

by Danny Brenner and Israel Hayom Staff

An 8-day-old boy from northern Israel was rushed to the Pediatric Emergency Unit at the Rambam Healthcare Campus this week after a botched circumcision in which the mohel severed part of the baby's urethra [glans]. The infant underwent penis reattachment surgery, which doctors later pronounced successful.

The medical team praised the family for placing the severed tissue on ice until they arrived at the hospital, increasing the chances for a successful operation.

The reattachment surgery was performed by senior pediatric urologist Benjamin Hardak.

"These kind of procedures are relatively rare," Hardak said. "The operation was a success and we are optimistic about the baby's chances of recovery, but it is still too soon to know what the ramifications will be for the baby. We are monitoring his condition closely."

Following the surgery the infant was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit at the Ruth Rappaport Children's Hospital, part of the Rambam Campus.

Mohels (ritual circumcisers) undergo special training before being allowed to perform the delicate medical procedure.

According to the Health Ministry's statistics, complications following circumcisions occur in less than 1% of cases, with the most common complication being excessive bleeding. Details of what went wrong in the brit in question were not immediately available.


August 4, 2015

Malawi: Circumcision Disaster - Malawi HIV Infection Rate Doubles

Following up the reports that Malawi24 released on 25 July that circumcision does not help in the reduction of HIV but exacerbates it, reports have emerged that have agreed with the facts that we had earlier established.

Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), one of the world's renowned NGOs working on public health, has released statistics showing that HIV infection rate in Malawi has doubled in recent years despite a range of interventions put in place to tackle the spread of the virus that have included relentless campaign on condomisation and circumcision.

According to the statistics by MSF, HIV rates have doubled in Malawi moving from 10% to 20% in 1 year. Strangely, this has been the same period that Malawians have been manipulative forced to go through circumcision in masses with the promise that it reduces the contraction of HIV.

The results which were published on BBC and revealed that of every 5 people, 1 person is HIV positive have pitted Malawi as the country worst hit by the HIV pandemic of all countries in the world.

Commenting on the development some Malawians trashed the results claiming they were sensationalised and exaggerated for the sake of tarnishing the image of the country to the international world to achieve what they called MSF's own hidden agenda.

Others faulted the BBC, saying it was one of the broadcasters' crusades against the African continent which they have tirelessly aimed to present in a negative light.

Medecins Sans Frontiers denies having had anything to do with this information. However,  these figures do bear the claim out:

Proportion of males  aged 15-54 with HIV cut intact
2010 10.3 7.9
2014 13.2 9.5

Source: Demographic and Health Surveys National Statistical Office,
Zomba, Malawi and ICF Macro, Calverton, Maryland, USA

Daily Mail (UK)

August 2, 2015

Mother's fury after doctor circumcises three-month-old baby boy at request of Muslim father WITHOUT her consent

by Ross Slater

Father asked for his boy to stay the night and secretly took him to doctor
Dr Balvinder Mehat carried out the private procedure on request
Baby's mother said: 'I knew this was something my baby's father wanted, but I didn't agree with it at all'

A doctor faces a police inquiry after he performed a circumcision on a three-month-old baby without the mother's consent in Nottingham.

Dr Balvinder Mehat was asked by the child's father's family to carry out the private procedure in accordance with their Islamic faith, but the boy's mother was horrified when she found out.

The unmarried 26-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: 'I knew this was something my baby's father wanted, but I didn't agree with it at all.

'I spoke to my health worker and GP about it, and they said that if it was only my name on the birth certificate there was no way it could happen.'

The parents, who both live in Nottingham, were in a casual relationship when the baby was conceived. After the birth, the father visited his son every week.

When the boy was three months old, the father, whose family originate from Pakistan, asked if his son could stay the night to mark Eid, the end of Ramadan. 'I agreed because it seemed fair,' said the boy's mother.

'The next day I was woken up by a phone call from his grandmother asking me for his GP's details for the circumcision appointment.

'I didn't know what she was on about and gave them to her to avoid a row. I then started ringing and texting them to say that no way should they do anything to my son. I got no response. Then a couple of hours later I got a text saying, 'It's done.' I couldn't believe it.'

The child had been taken to the Bakersfield Medical Centre in Nottingham and given a 'Plastibell circumcision', which is a ten-minute surgical procedure. The mother was horrified by the sight of the wound when she went to collect her child.

She was given a post-operative care sheet warning her that 'common complications can be bleeding and infection'. The furious mother told her health visitor, who in turn informed social services.

'A social worker came to see me,' said the mother, 'but she was only interested in my emotional state and in arranging contact for the father's family as I wouldn't allow them access.

'I rang the medical centre and Dr Mehat later rang me back. He was very aggressive.'

According to General Medical Council guidance, doctors should 'get consent from all those with parental responsibility.

If you cannot get consent for a procedure, for example because the parents cannot agree, you should inform the child's parents that you cannot provide the service unless you have authorisation from the court'.

Dr Mehat qualified as a medic in 1984 and became a GP in 2006. When contacted by The Mail on Sunday, he issued a statement through the Medical Protection Society, saying:

'I am sorry to hear of the concerns that have been raised, but it would be inappropriate for me to comment further due to patient confidentiality. I would like to reassure my patients that I always strive to provide the best possible care.'

A spokesman for Nottingham Police said: 'We can confirm that the matter has been reported to us and that inquiries are ongoing.'

The Jewish Post

July 21, 2015

German hospital working to deter parents from circumcising

Despite legislation enshrining the right to circumcision [or rather, to circumcise] , the ritual still faces opposition in Germany, according to a local media outlet, which reported that a hospital in Essen is trying to convince parents to forgo the procedure for their sons.

The DerWesten.de news website cited Dr. Peter Liedgens, the director of pediatric surgery at Elisabeth Hospital, saying that he has managed to persuade three quarters of parents at his hospital to rethink circumcision. As a result, only 11 circumcisions were performed in the first quarter of 2015, down from 70 during the corresponding period the previous year.

The website also claimed that now the hospital would cease to perform any childhood circumcisions. However, a hospital spokesman clarified to The Jerusalem Post that, while it still performs circumcisions and has no plans on stopping, it performs them only on children above the age of one and only under general anesthesia.

“Circumcisions are performed only by our pediatric surgeons and not by ritual circumcisers on hospital grounds. So the new policy doesn’t really change anything concerning this procedure,” explained spokesman Thomas Kalhöfer.

Asked if the hospital would actively try to deter religious families from circumcising their children, Kalhöfer said that, “We respect the religious grounds of families asking for circumcision, and we don’t actively want to persuade them to desist.

“Our surgeons are arguing from a medical standpoint according to the new medical guidelines of the German Society of Pediatric Surgeons, who recommend to perform circumcision only for medical reasons,” he said, adding that the hospital’s policy toward circumcision has been in place since the beginning of the year.

In 2012, a court in Cologne ruled circumcision a form of bodily harm subject to criminal penalties, causing an international furor and vehement protests from Jewish organizations and the State of Israel.

While the Bundestag moved swiftly to pass legislation enshrining the right of German citizens to undergo circumcisions [no, to genitally cut non-consenting minors - the right of adults to be cut was never restricted], several German medical associations came out strongly against the practice.

There is no reason from a medical point of view to remove an intact foreskin from underage boys or boys unable to give consent,” the German Pediatric Association asserted in a 2012 statement.

Jewish groups have expressed growing concern over circumcision in recent years, in the face of campaigns to ban the practice in several countries and a 2013 resolution by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which described circumcision as a “violation of the physical integrity of children.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “The health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision,” and “the final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs.”

“The Simon Wiesenthal Center calls upon authorities to insist that the religious rights of Jews and Muslims be protected,” said Rabbi Abraham Cooper of the center.

While Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt of the Conference of European Rabbis mused that “the decision of the hospital is not based on questions of the legality of circumcision, which is guaranteed by German law, but on the fact that less and less Muslims are interested in this procedure, a fact showing the assimilation of Muslims into a post Judeo-Christian Europe.”

However, the hospital’s policy does show “a certain bias,” he said, adding that “for Jews the address for Brit Mila [circumcision] should be the synagogue and not the hospital.” 

BBC News

July 17, 2015

'Fifty girls' taken from UK to Somalia for FGM

Reports that at least 50 girls were taken from the UK to Somalia for female genital mutilation are being investigated by Scotland Yard.

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge contacted the Metropolitan Police after spotting a large group of girls on a flight from Heathrow last Saturday.

The girls were said to be aged 11 to 17 and with their mothers or grandmothers.

It comes as Bedfordshire Police secured the UK's first FGM protection order, preventing two girls from going abroad.

The Metropolitan Police said officers from the Specialist Crime and Operations Command were investigating Lady Tonge's report.

'Scattering of grannies'

Speaking to the BBC, Lady Tonge said the girls spoke English and were of Somali origin.

"It was just odd," she said. "They were young girls and mothers and a scattering of grannies."

They were on an Ethiopian Airlines flight to Addis Ababa on 11 July and according to the Lib Dem peer transferred onto a plane to Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia.

Lady Tonge, along with the Labour MP for Halifax, Holly Lynch, was on a trip to the Financial Development Conference in Addis Ababa.

FGM, also termed female circumcision, is illegal in the UK. It refers to any procedure that alters or injures the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.

It is a painful ritual carried out on women and young girls from certain communities from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.The Met says its Specialist Crime and Operations Command is probing the reports

Lady Tonge said that both she and Ms Lynch felt the presence of so many girls at the start of the summer holidays was "suspicious", given that it was the start of the so-called "cutting season" when FGM is carried out, and she decided to raise the alarm on her return to the UK.

Scotland Yard confirmed that police had been called by a "woman concerned about a large number of girls on a flight from Heathrow to Ethiopia on 11 July whom she believed were at risk of FGM".

That confirmation from the Met came after Bedfordshire Police said it secured a protection court order on the day new powers came into effect.

The civil legislation allows officials to seize passports from people they suspect are planning on taking girls overseas for FGM, and breaching an order is a criminal offence.

The move prevents two girls being taken to Africa, Bedfordshire Police said.

The force said it is estimated that more than 20,000 girls under the age of 15 in the UK are at risk of FGM each year, although very few cases are reported.

Aneeta Prem of Freedom Charity said "cutters" may also be entering the UK to carry out FGM

Det Ch Insp Nick Bellingham, from Bedfordshire Police's Public Protection Unit, said: "With schools breaking up for the summer holidays today, we will continue to use this legislation where needed to prevent young girls who we believe may be at risk from being taken out of the country.

"This is child abuse, and we will do everything in our power to ensure that children are kept safe and that those responsible are caught."

Aneeta Prem, founder of women's charity Freedom Charity, said the use of a protection order was a positive step.

But she warned that the authorities must also look out for "cutters" - people who carry out FGM "for as little as £200 a girl" - entering the UK.

"We can't be politically sensitive. Girls who are mutilated in this way suffer a lifetime of scarring and permanent damage," she said.

The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2005 in Scotland states that FGM is illegal unless it is necessary for health reasons.

The law states that is also illegal to arrange for a UK national to be taken overseas to undergo FGM.

The order secured by Bedfordshire Police, which can be made by courts in England and Wales, was introduced under the Serious Crime Act 2015.

Equalities and Justice Minister Caroline Dinenage said the protection orders have been "fast-tracked... to make sure women and girls facing the awful threat of FGM can be kept safe".

"These orders mean girls and the communities around them now know they will have somewhere to turn, that the law is on their side and help is out there.

"The government is committed to ending FGM."

Stuff (New Zealand)

July 18, 2015

Medical students chop off baby's penis by accident

A newborn's penis has reportedly been mistaken for his umbilical cord.

Medical students have reportedly mistaken a newborn's penis for his umbilical cord and chopped it off.

The undergraduates made the shocking blunder in the delivery room in the City of Saltillo in the state of Coahuila, north-eastern Mexico, The Sun reported, and then tried to hide the boy from his parents.

The child's father Diego Rangel Izaguirre grew suspicious when he was denied access to his son for more than two hours after his birth. He was told that his son had suffered a minor injury and would need surgery.

"When my child was born and they cut his umbilical cord they injured his penis.

"And unfortunately when the surgeon started sewing it, he made other two new injuries, almost two centimetres deep."

The baby's mother, Zulem Contreras, said: "This shouldn't have happened, they should have assigned a gynaecologist to take care of him, not students."

The couple have made an official complaint but hospital officials claim the newborn is healthy and that the operation was both minor and the baby's parents gave their consent.

"According to the information available at the moment, during the labour, when cutting the umbilical cord, incidentally the foreskin was injured and was corrected with the usual procedure of circumcision to the minor," the Mexican Institute of Social Security said. 

[Circumcision does not of course "correct" an injury to the foreskin, but causes one.]

Associated Press

July 16, 2015

Woman in Son's Circumcision Fight Pleads in Custody Case

A Florida woman who was jailed in her fight against her son's circumcision can avoid additional jail time on a child-custody charge.

Thirty-year-old Heather Hironimus of Boynton Beach entered a plea Thursday allowing her to avoid prosecution for interfering with child custody if she doesn't land in trouble in the next year.

Hironimus had fled with her 4-year-old son to avoid the circumcision that the boy's father wanted and judges agreed should be performed.

She was jailed on a contempt charge, but freed after she agreed to the procedure. The child-custody charge was the last legal hurdle remaining for her.

Hironimus' attorney, Richard Tendler, tells The Palm Beach Post his client "is relieved the matter is behind her and looks forward to moving on with her life."

Earlier story


July 10, 2015

Traditional circumcision questioned in the E Cape

The relevance of the tradition of circumcision is being questioned in the Eastern Cape. This as about 22 young boys have died since the start of winter in the Eastern Cape.

The Maphetshana family is grieving their 17 year old son was left for dead at an initiation school. His mother, Nomihlayethu Maphetshana, was denied access to him even after he was brought home.

Nomihlayethu says: "We are not allowed to see our children because we are women. My son was burnt with plastics, stabbed at his arms , beaten up all over the body and these people claim they did not see all that torture. My son was brought here and they denied me access in my own house and now I have lost my child."

An emotional Deputy Minister of Traditional Affairs Obed Bapela visited the bereaved families.

"I am a supporter of culture myself but if culture is going to kill our children I will say no it cannot be. I really send my condolences to the family and to all other families that have lost their children , here in the Eastern Cape and elsewhere." Bapela says.

Child rights organisations have also called for the arrest of those who abduct young boys and circumcise them.

At least 145 others are in hospital some in a critical condition from botched circumcisions.

Earlier story


July 6, 2015

14 dead in S. African province after botched circumcisions

Traditional circumcision ceremonies in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, where the rite-of-passage practice is common, have left 14 boys dead and 141 injured this year, local authorities said Sunday.

Many of the injured teens suffered from "dehydration, wounds, pneumonia, aseptic penis and gangrene" Sizwe Kupelo, spokesman for the health ministry in the Eastern Cape province told AFP.

"Fourteen died and 141 are in various hospitals," he said.

Nine patients are waiting for a penis transplant -- a procedure requested more and more after the first successful transplant was performed in the country last year on another botched circumcision victim.

The rite of passage into adulthood, which usually follows a bush retreat of two to four weeks, is also a show of physical endurance.

For the ceremony, the teens gamble their lives. Each year teenaged boys die or are mutilated during the initiation.

"A death is always one too many," said Mamkeli Ngam, spokesman for the cooperative governance and traditional affairs minister in Eastern Cape, the home province of Nelson Mandela.

Ngam also said that several initiation schools had already been shut down.

According to media reports, 41,000 young men of the Eastern Cape -- one of the most affected provinces in South Africa -- completed the initiation last year.

Circumcision in the country can be lucrative, bringing in around 1,500 rand (110 euros, $120) per initiation, but the boys do not benefit from the profit. They are often treated harshly and receive little to no food.

In June, South African police rescued 11 teenage boys from forced circumcision after their parents reported that they had been taken from the street to participate in the initiation.


July 2, 2015

Eastern Cape hospital faces crisis due to initiate influx

by Adam Wakefield

Johannesburg - St Barnabas hospital in Libode in the Eastern Cape is facing a crisis due to an influx of initiates, the Eastern Cape health department said on Thursday.

Spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said 36 initiates had been admitted to the hospital and it had run out of beds.

"Six ordinary medical cases could not be admitted last night [Wednesday] due to a shortage of beds as a result of initiate influx," he said.

"The provincial health department has had to intervene by moving some of the boys to Dr Malizo Mphehle Hospital to avert a crisis."

The boys were admitted due to a combination of ailments, from botched circumcisions leading to septic wounds, to dehydration and pneumonia.

Kupelo said the wounded boys had circumcisions performed on them by people who did not know how to perform them.

"Codefsa [Community Development Foundation for SA], an NGO assisting with circumcision rescue operations in the area, has agreed to erect a rescue centre behind the hospital."

Reputable traditional nurses

Chief Bokleni, a senior chief in the area, had given his permission for the land behind the hospital, which is not part of the property, to be used.

"All costs will come from Codefsa, [the] health [department] will need to support with medical kits and monitoring personnel," Kupelo said.

"Chief Bokleni will assign reputable traditional nurses for the duration of their stay, health nurses and doctors will monitor. Security guards will be assigned to secure the initiation village or rescue centre."

Other initiate admissions in the province had seen 14 boys admitted to Mthatha central hospital, seven to Dr Malizo Mpehle hospital in Tsolo, 15 to Canzibe hospital in Ngqeleni, and four boys to Holy Cross hospital in Flagstaff.

"The Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Fikile Xhasa, accompanied by senior health officials from Bhisho, is currently visiting St Barnabas Hospital and will also view the demarcated area for the rescue centre," Kupelo said.

Six people dead

On Sunday, Kupelo said a total of six people had died during the week in connection with the current initiation season.

Kupelo said five of the deaths happened in the OR Tambo district and one in the Chris Hani district. Libode is located in the OR Tambo district.

An 18-year-old boy from Ngqeleni was circumcised on June 13 and died on his way to hospital last Friday. The cause of death was still unknown, although he had presented with confusion and dyspnoea (laboured breathing). A forensic examination was underway.

A Tsolo man, 22, was circumcised on June 20 and died on Saturday. The cause of his death was still unknown.

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