CIN (Circumcision Information Network) 1:11

Journal  Circumcision Information Network, Volume 1, Issue 11. Sunday, 28 August 1994.

Richard Angell

This weekly bulletin is a project of CIN, the Circumcision Information Network (formerly CIN CompuBulletin). The purpose of this weekly bulletin is to educate the public about and to protect children and other non-consenting persons from genital mutilation. Readers are encouraged to copy and redistribute it, and to contribute written material.
--Rich Angell, Editor.

On P B8 of the 22 August issue of Vancouver, B.C.'s Province Showcase, Dr.
Trevor Watson wrote a column ("Your Health") on circumcision, which--not
unusually--was loaded with misinformation and bias.  Following are some of
the misinformation, refuted.

Misinformation:  "Circumcision has been shown to prevent certain diseases (in
this way it is similar to immunization) [like] urinary tract infections,
sexually transmitted diseases, cancer of the penis, and cancer of the

Fact:  The vast majority of the world does not circumcise, and does not
suffer from the diseases which North American doctors claim circumcision
prevents.  Some cultures which "circumcise" girls also claim that it prevents
disease.  Many infections are caused by ignorant health care providers and
parents who forcibly retract the foreskin of their children.  Most infections
are easily treatable.  Girls get infected more than boys, yet they are
treated with anti-biotics and we don't routinely circumcise them to prevent

STDs?  If circumcision prevents STDs and AIDS, why does the U.S. have both
one of the highest rates of circumcision and an epidemic of STDs and AIDS?

Cancer of the penis is extraordinarily rare, occurring among 3 out of 100,000
in the U.S., mostly among men over 60.  Other countries which do not
circumcise do not have a higher rate of cancer of the penis.  Hygiene and
other factors, not genital mutilation, are the answer.  By the way, women are
5,000 times more likely to get breast cancer, yet we don't mastectomize baby
girls to prevent it.

The cancer of the cervix scare was disproven long ago, although the refuting
studies did not receive nearly the same media coverage and hype that the
earlier, erroneous studies enjoyed.   

Misinformation:  "The decision to circumcise or not remains a personal one."

Fact:  Actually, Dr. Watson is right, but not in the sense that he meant it.
 The truth is, circumcision, excision, infibulation and other genital
mutilation are a personal choice to be made by the grown individual attached
to the penis or vagina in question.  Otherwise, it is a violation of human

As reported in the previous issue of CIN CompuBulletin, Cecil Adams addressed
the circumcision issue yet again.  While he is showing improvement, and is
certainly ahead of Dr. Watson, he has a way to go.  Following are some
misinformation, clarified by CIN.

Misinformation:  "Done properly, routine infant circumcision is a minor
medical procedure involving small risks and offering small benefits."

Fact:  A "properly done" routine infant circumcision is an oximoron.  The
only proper one is the one not done at all.  It is not a minor procedure for
the infant undergoing the procedure.  Just watch a video or visit your local
hospital and see how it is done and how it affects the infant.  As for risk,
there is a 100% risk of genital mutilation, sexual dysfunction to one degree
or another (depending on the severity of the circumcision), pain, trauma,
chaffing to the exposed glans...and a smaller percent risk of infection,
botched surgery leading to further mutilation, and even death.  To those few
babies who die or lose their penis due to circumcision, the risk is hardly

Misinformation:  "If you do have it done, you're hardly a human rights

Fact:  If you amputate any other part of a child's body, that would be
considered a violation of his human rights.  Most people reading this
bulletin would agree that amputating female genital parts is a violation of
human rights.  Why do we lose our capacity to reason when a boy's foreskin is

Misinformation:  "Some men not circumcised as infants--5 to 10 per cent is
the range often cited, but this is subject to dispute--will require
circumcision for medical reasons later in life."

Fact:  In countries where infant circumcision is rare, and where the foreskin
is recognized as a valuable and integral part of the penis, adult
circumcision is also extremely rare.  The problem is, knife-happy North
American doctors, who are not taught about the foreskin (and probably don't
have one themselves), tend to amputate at the first sign of trouble--which
again, usually is a result of improper care to begin with.

Richard DeSeabra of NYC reports:  Alan Parker's latest film "The Road to
Wellsville," starring Anthony Hopkins, Bridget Fonda is about the
turn-of-the-century physician and cereal tycoon Dr. Kellog. The film is a
comedy and is too uncomfortably close to the truth. Dr. Kellog's intentions
were to promote both his cereal and infant circumcision as a means to
diminish sexual drive. He is also portrayed as a lunatic, which in fact he
was. Historically, he is recognized as one of the doctors who initiated mass,
routine circumcision.  While officially the AAP does not recommend routine
male genital mutilation, individual members still vigorously promote it as as
source of additional income and "if I was, everyone should be."
While the movie does not portray male genital mutilation, it is about the man
who initially initiated this custom in the American culture. If you see the
film, voice your dissatisfaction.  You may be the way you are because of this

CIN would like to hear from international readers, especially from those of
non-circumcising corners of the world.  What is your opinion of this issue?
 Were you aware of North America's custom of routine infant circumcision
before you began reading the CIN CompuBulletin?  Had you even heard of the
word 'circumcision'?  How has your awareness of genital mutilation changed
your perspective of North America?  Your responses may appear in a future
CompuBulletin.  Anonymity will be respected at your request.  E-mail address

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