2007-04-27

Guys - your anatomy is in danger!

The great majority of men, women, and children in this world are anatomically intact. Lopping pieces off them, stunting their growth, and other such practices, are rightly thought of as perversions not to be tolerated in any rational, humane society. The binding of the feet of Chinese women was banned nearly a century ago. This consideration also extends to the treatment of other animals - in many countries the docking and cropping of tails and ears of dogs, for example, is regarded as distasteful.

Nevertheless, in some cultures there persists a view that the complete human body is in some way incorrect, and needs pieces taken off it. In parts of northern Africa it is still not uncommon to remove parts of the sexual organs of young girls, a practice now termed Female Genital Mutilation and strongly discouraged in international campaigns of exhortation and education. For boys, Muslim and Jewish tradition appears to demand the removal of the prepuce or "foreskin", about half the surface area of the penis, containing its most sensitive portion. This painful practice, termed "circumcision", is of course also regarded with horror by 80 per cent of the world's population. It is just common sense that the human body, when kept as nature intended, will perform better, and have fewer health problems, than when it has been wounded in a part vital to its proper function and the procreation of the species.

For some reason, in the 19th century the Jewish/Muslim practice of circumcision (and also female genital mutilation) was spread by certain members of the medical profession into social groups where it was previously unknown. It seems to have first been introduced to restrict sexual activity, of course to no effect! Once the practice had spread, additional excuses for it were made, such as limiting the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and certain cancers. These alleged benefits have also been completely discredited. Condoms and clean water are always much more effective.

Nevertheless, circumcision of young boys and even day-old infants has persisted, at a rate of more than 50 per cent in the USA and South Korea, and at a lesser rate in Canada and Australia. For the rest of the world's non-Muslim and non-Jewish population the circumcision rate is negligible, except by cultural tradition in the Philippines, Polynesia, and some African ethnic groups.

However, myths do persist, particularly amongst some doctors who should know better. Now that HIV/AIDS has proved to be intractable and expensive to treat, and so far impossible to vaccinate against, people are desperately trying to find "quick fixes". In parts of Africa the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection rate is extremely high, and it is often believed that there is popular resistance to the use of condoms, or even that condom use is immoral. So from some quarters the idea has risen that male circumcision could reduce female-to-male HIV transmission, even though the epidemiological evidence is very poor. Moves are afoot to cut off foreskins in non-circumcising societies such as in Botswana and in Swaziland. Results from a few poorly-controlled experiments are said to be "convincing", even though they cannot be proper double-blind trials, since the subjects all know what their penis looks like.

Although cutting body tissues in regions with poor medical services will increase infection (including HIV), spokesmen for the World Health Organisation and UNAIDS are now calling for mass circumcision in high-HIV areas.

And there are even calls in Western countries, particularly the USA, for mass circumcision of infants to be encouraged or reintroduced!

The voice of the circumcision lobby appears to be very loud, and voices of moderation are relatively silent. Maybe the knives will be coming for you, your infant son, or other young relative ...

[Useful web sites: www.circumcisionandhiv.com, www.icgi.org, and links therein]

2 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joseph said...

Your readers may be interested in the following article I wrote on circumcision and posted on my blog. The article can be found at: http://www.quickswood.com/my_weblog/2007/02/circumcision.html#more

Cheers and good work.