Monday, 11 March 2013

Female Genital Mutilation v Male Circumcision: Back to Basics.

Circumcision is the surgical removal of the skin covering the tip of the penis. Circumcision is fairly common for newborn boys in certain parts of the world, including the United States. Circumcision after the newborn period is possible, but it's a more complex procedure.


For some families, circumcision is a religious ritual. Circumcision can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care. For others, however, circumcision seems unnecessary or disfiguring. After circumcision, it isn't generally possible to re-create the appearance of an uncircumcised penis


Circumcision is a religious or cultural ritual for many Jewish and Islamic families, as well as certain aboriginal tribes in Africa and Australia. Circumcision can also be a matter of family tradition, personal hygiene or preventive health care. Sometimes there's a medical need for circumcision, such as when the foreskin is too tight to be pulled back (retracted) over the glans. In other cases, particularly in certain parts of Africa, circumcision is recommended for older boys or men to reduce the risk of certain sexually transmitted infections.


The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says the benefits of circumcision outweigh the risks. However, the AAP doesn't recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns. The AAP leaves the circumcision decision up to parents — and supports use of anesthetics for infants who have the procedure.


Circumcision might have various health benefits, including:


Easier hygiene. Circumcision makes it simpler to wash the penis. Washing beneath the foreskin of an uncircumcised penis is generally easy, however.

Decreased risk of urinary tract infections. The overall risk of urinary tract infections in males is low, but these infections are more common in uncircumcised males. Severe infections early in life can lead to kidney problems later on.

Decreased risk of sexually transmitted infections. Circumcised men might have a lower risk of certain sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Still, safe sexual practices remain essential.

Prevention of penile problems. Occasionally, the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis can be difficult or impossible to retract (phimosis). This can lead to inflammation of the foreskin or head of the penis.

Decreased risk of penile cancer. Although cancer of the penis is rare, it's less common in circumcised men. In addition, cervical cancer is less common in the female sexual partners of circumcised men.


Circumcision might not be an option if certain blood-clotting disorders are present. In addition, circumcision might not be appropriate for premature babies who still require medical care in the hospital nursery.

Circumcision doesn't affect fertility, nor is circumcision generally thought to enhance or detract from sexual pleasure for men or their partners

The most common complications associated with circumcision are bleeding and infection. Side effects related to anesthesia are possible as well.


Rarely, circumcision might result in foreskin problems. For example:

  • The foreskin might be cut too short or too long
  • The foreskin might fail to heal properly
  • The remaining foreskin might reattach to the end of the penis, requiring minor surgical repair


Female Genital Mutilation


Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female circumcision or female genital cutting, is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons".

The procedure is traditionally carried out by an older woman with no medical training. Anaesthetics and antiseptic treatment are not generally used and the practice is usually carried out using basic tools such as knives, scissors, scalpels, pieces of glass and razor blades. Often iodine or a mixture of herbs is placed on the wound to tighten the vagina and stop the bleeding.

Types of Female Genital Mutilation

The World Health (WHO) classifies FGM into four types:

Type I

involves the excision of the prepuce with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.


Type II

excision of the prepuce and clitoris together with partial or total excision of the labia minora.


Type III

excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching or narrowing of the vaginal opening, also known as infibulation. This is the most extreme form and constitutes 15 per cent of all cases. It involves the use of thorns, silk or catgut to stitch the two sides of the vulva. A bridge of scar tissue then forms over the vagina, which leaves only a small opening (from the size of a matchstick head) for the passage of urine and menstrual blood.


Type IV

includes pricking, piercing or incision of the clitoris and/or the labia; stretching of the clitoris( this is practiced in Zimbabwe) and or the labia; cauterisation or burning of the clitoris and surrounding tissues, scraping of the vaginal orifice


Consequences of FGM


Depending on the degree of mutilation, FGM can have a number of short-term health implications:


  • severe pain and shock
  • infection
  • urine retention
  • injury to adjacent tissues
  • immediate fatal haemorrhaging


Long-term implications can entail:


  • extensive damage of the external reproductive system
  • uterus, vaginal and pelvic infections
  • cysts and neuromas
  • increased risk of Vesico Vaginal Fistula
  • complications in pregnancy and child birth
  • psychological damage
  • sexual dysfunction
  • difficulties in menstruation

Surely the two (Male Circumcision and Female Genital Mutilation) can not be compared. Female Genital Mutilation is a punishment for life to the women and girls who go through it.  While there is a case for male circumcision, there is clearly none for FGM. Let’s end it together.


By Abigal Muchecheti


  1. Circumcision has done me no favors! I have had bleeding abrasions from intercourse that a foreskin would have prevented. These made me leery of having sex with my wife. Without the mechanical lubrication provided by a foreskin, I have to use artificial lubricant or sex would be painful for my wife. My parent's chose this painful and unsatisfactory sex life for me and my wife and I simply cannot fathom why. I would never have chosen to have my foreskin removed. Only 1/16,667 intact males will have a problem with their foreskin, 99% of which can be treated with medicine not surgery. 117 babies die from circumcision a year in the US that is 9/100,000 babies that die each year from a cosmetic surgery. Men have lost their penis, glans, and suffered from deformity caused by the operation. It isn't right that these children pay the price for a decision their parents made, a decision that should be left up to the penis owner. Even those who survive still have problems like mine, though they are seldom discussed.

    My numbers and claims are supported by these studies:
    Dutch Medical society and their stance on RIC

    This document outlines the deaths caused by circumcision in the US.

  2. Oh btw a baby penis is very small and the adult penis is Much larger. The bigger the target the easier it is. Also a baby boy get no effective anesthetic when it is done, an adult would. The adult also is making a decision about his body.

  3. It seems that you support male circumcision and that you justify this point of view by stating health benefits. Would you support FGM if there were health benefits (and there are, if you can believe that)? Why are human rights and genital integrity only good for one gender? Health benefits are a red herring. No child should have his or her genitals mutilated.

    Sunat is practiced in hospitals and its practitioners talk of improved cleanliness and the religious/cultural implications of it. It is also no more invasive than the male form. By all accounts, you would support it for the same reasons you seem to support male circumcision.

    You also reference the AAP. The AAP is a pro-circumcision organization that even supported FGM until public outcry forced them to change their policy statement. It seems that your knowledge of male circumcision (and to some extent FGM) is somewhat limited.

  4. The entire article is a comparison, and unlike the comparisons being made by feminists and intactivists you are using one form of cutting to justify another. You also fail to risk loss of the foreskin and frenulum as downsides of circumcision. You need to do some research on the functions of the foreskin, frenulum and ridged band. The glans is designed to be protected and stimulated by the foreskin, not by friction. And like FGM, circumcision has always been intended to reduce pleasure and prevent masturbation (which, barring artificial lubrication not available to many men, it does). It is also part of the patriarchal conditioning boys undergo to make rapists out of them.

    There are no harmless forms of genital cutting, and you are comparing hospital circumcision in the US to the most extreme forms of FGM while ignoring the fact that most male circumcisions occur in unsanitary settings. Think of every culture that practices FGM. Every last one cuts boys in the same conditions at the same age.

    The best feminist take on the subject I've seen:

  5. And as a black person I expect you to look at this from a racial standpoint as well. This country has a history with black bodies, and the rigged HIV studies in Africa hark directly back to the Tuskegee study. It doesn't matter whether there are benefits or not - the issue is consent. The men in Africa are being experimented on by whites and given the impression that they are totally immune to HIV. Even 70-year-old men who aren't sexually active are getting it because they think HIV is airborne.

    A little more perspective on the medical fraud aspect, and the racial overtones: