Circumcision victim's bid to help others

News  Canberra Times (Canberra, ACT, Australia). Sunday, 31 March 2002.

Danielle Cronin

An ACT man awarded $360,000 compensation after a botched circumcision will speak at an international symposium on genital mutilation in Washington this week.

Shane Peterson said his message was simple - circumcision was unnecessary and dangerous.

The 28-year-old man found it difficult to speak publicly about his very traumatic experience but put his fear aside to educate parents and save other men from a similar fate.

Mr Peterson said he was circumcised shortly after birth but the doctor removed far too much tissue which left him scarred.

Mr Peterson, when aged 18, underwent reconstructive plastic surgery which involved several skin grafts. He received $360,000 in damages in 1999 from the doctor who performed the circumcision.

That might seem like quite a lot of money but money could never compensate me for the pain I endured and the permanent loss of sexual enjoyment, Mr Peterson said.

I see the money as a token of recognition rather than compensation.

The penis is an important sensory organ and is permanently damaged by circumcision.

The amputation of part of the penis should be governed by the same rules which apply to the amputation of other body parts - urgent medical need, a serious pathological condition and informed consent.

Mr Peterson said adult men should decide whether to be circumcised.

Parents should not have the right to surgically impose their sexual, cosmetic or aesthetic preferences on children. It is for the child to decide when he or she reaches the legal age of consent, he said.

Mr Peterson will speak at the  External link 7th International Symposium on Human Rights and Modern Society PDF link held in Washington from April 4-7 to coincide with Genital Integrity Awareness Week.

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