Four-year-old boy dies during ritual circumcision

News  Pravda (Moscow). Wednesday, 2 July 2008.

It is a great shock for our hospital, a senior spokeswoman for the Childrens Republican Hospital of Kazan, Damira Galeyeva said. The death of a four-year-old boy set the whole city in turmoil.

Two four-year-old twin boys, Ilfat and Rifat Zarimovs, were hospitalized for the operation of ritual circumcision. The children were thoroughly examined prior to the operation. Doctors operated Ilfat first, and the operation went through successfully. Rifat died as a result of the operation.

The examination conducted before the operation did not reveal any contraindications. The doctor who gave the boy the narcosis is a specialist of a higher category who has a very extensive work experience. His qualification does not raise any doubts. Our hospital has up-to-date equipment for anesthesiology and reanimation. The doctors spent 2.5 hours reanimating the boy, but they failed to save him, Galeyeva said.

The doctor added that one will have to conduct independent expertise to find out the cause of the boys death.

We have received a permission from the Office of the Public Prosecutor to conduct independent expertise. For the time being, there are no official results about the autopsy and conclusions made by forensic experts regarding the cause of death and the chemical composition of the used medications. The results can be received after a detailed investigation, Damira Galeyeva said.

Incidents of death as a result of circumcision operations are extremely rare. However, they occur.

A month-old boy, the son of the Imam of Moscows Historical Mosque, Ramil Sadekov, died as a result of the same operation last year. The boys father saw an ad offering circumcision operation services in the street not far from the mosque. The man called the number indicated in the advertisement and invited a doctor to perform the traditional ritual on his month-old boy named as Salikh.

The doctor came to the imams apartment, conducted the procedure and left. It seemed that the operation had been performed successfully, without any complications. However, the boys condition started to worsen speedily soon afterwards. The baby was dying for several hours.

We were cradling the boy throughout the night. At about 5 oclock in the morning we noticed that the baby started breathing slower than usual. His fingers got cold and turned green, the parents told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper.

The baby died of blood loss before the ambulance arrived.

Another similar incident took place in Egypt. A 12-year-old girl died as a result of the circumcision operation, which usually stipulates the ablation of clitoris. The operation was conducted illegally. The girls mother paid the surgeon $9 for the operation. The girl died over anesthesia overdose.

Circumcising cultures may circumcise their males either shortly after birth, during childhood, or around puberty as part of a rite of passage. Circumcision is most prevalent in the Muslim world, parts of South East Asia, Africa, the United States, Israel, and South Korea. It is commonly practised in the Jewish and Islamic faiths.

Under Jewish law circumcision is a mitzva aseh (positive commandment to perform an act) and is obligatory for Jewish-born males, and some Jewish male converts. It is only postponed or abrogated in the case of threat to the life or health of the child. It is usually performed by a mohel on the eighth day after birth in a ceremony called a Brit milah (or Bris milah, colloquially simply bris), which means Covenant of circumcision in Hebrew. It is considered of such religious importance that the body of an uncircumcised Jewish male will sometimes be circumcised before burial.

Circumcision is customary among the Coptic, Ethiopian, and Eritrean Orthodox Churches, and also some other African churches. Some Christian churches in South Africa oppose circumcision, viewing it as a pagan ritual, while others, including the Nomiya church in Kenya, require circumcision for membership. Some Christian churches celebrate the Circumcision of Christ.

In Islam, circumcision is mentioned in some hadith, but not in the Qur'an. Some Fiqh scholars state that circumcision is recommended (Sunnah); others that it is obligatory. Some have quoted the hadith to argue that the requirement of circumcision is based on the covenant with Abraham. While endorsing circumcision for males, scholars note that it is not a requirement for converting to Islam.

Circumcision in South Korea is largely the result of American cultural and military influence following the Korean War. In West Africa infant circumcision may have had tribal significance as a rite of passage or otherwise in the past; today in some non-Muslim Nigerian societies it is medicalised and is simply a cultural norm.


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