Male Circumscision – is it Child Abuse?

We have no problem whatsoever in declaring that female circumcision is child abuse. If a parent allows their female child to be mutilated then most civilised people would shout loudly that it is wrong.

It does not matter if the parents erroneously believe that it is a religious practice.

Religious practices are not above the law.

Some religious practice declares that it is not only alright, but an absolute mandate from god, to take the life of a nonbeliever. It is never right.

Some religious belief declares that it is right for a wife to throw herself on the funeral pyre of her husband.

Female circumcision is an abuse. It is wrong. It is illegal. It never should happen.

Neither should male circumcision be allowed. It is nowhere near as bad as female mutilation but it is the same principle. A child should not be subjected to such a mutilation unless there is a sound medical reason.

That child should be free to make that decision for themselves when they are old enough to understand. I would suggest that sixteen is such an age.

Under the age of sixteen I believe that imposing religion on children is wrong; I believe that mutilating children against their will is wrong.

34 thoughts on “Male Circumscision – is it Child Abuse?

    1. No Anna, the health aspect is unclear. In some instances it is necessary for health reasons but the jury is out. This is clearly for religious reasons.
      I think a child should decide for themselves when they are old enough.

      1. Dear Opher, there is a clear health aspect and for the religious aspect one has to know male circumcision has nothing to do with female genital mutilation and at a later age would be more painful than when a bay and not being conscious about it.

        Human Law may not come above god’s Law and non-believers and/or other believers have no right to infringe on the freedom of religion and should leave parents to decide for their children as long as the children are not able to decide for themselves.

        Are you also going against all those countries where extraction of tonsils is normal practice and would consider that also human mutilation? You know that practice is more painful than circumcision and for a longer period? Though in many countries it is common practice whilst medically it is proven there are less advantages by tonsillectomy than by circumcision.

      2. Marcus – as an antitheist, who not only doesn’t believe in God but who thinks religion does far more harm than good, I reject your view about it being god’s law. In my view god is a fiction created by humans and used for power and control.
        I think any medical procedure performed on a child should be for sound medical reasons and not religious reasons.

  1. I was circumcised at the age of 6 years. It was not for medical or religious reasons but because my foreskin was too tight. My view is that the absence of a foreskin creates a more hygienic penis since nothing gets trapped between a foreskin and a penis. It is completely different in my view from female circumcision both in terms of likely medical problems and also sexual satisfaction arising from the removal of the clitoris. A clitoris is not the equivalent of a foreskin.

    1. Bede – there are health considerations but medical opinion is divided on that. There are also risks.
      I do not think it is anywhere near as drastic a procedure as female circumcision (which isn’t circumcision at all – more mutilation) but the principle is more one of an individual’s rights. Carrying out unnecessary medical surgery on young children for religious reasons is, in my opinion, wrong.

    2. Bernard, not that you’d be physically aware, but the foreskin area does control an element of sensitivity that is enhanced during sexual arousal, particularly the area at the top of the penis on the ‘back side’. I’d be most upset were this sensation no longer available to me. I’m afraid that you have no idea of what you are talking about in this respect.
      As for stuff getting trapped and hygiene etc, fine where one lives nowhere near water or is unable to wash themselves regularly. But here in the first world, I think we have mastered this problem.

  2. Medical opinion is always divided as in other scientific fields. What are the risks in male circumcision provided it is carried out correctly? Of course, you would consider male circumcision for religious reasons is wrong. You are a professed atheist but it appears you would wish to impose your views on everybody and disrespect the religious view of those who differ from you. The world is not made in your image. You should respect and accept differences in culture and belief. How would you feel if your were compelled to believe in God?

    1. There is risk of infection that can be very problematic.
      No I’m not after imposing my views on others. I’m quite happy for people to make a decision to circumcise themselves for religious reasons. I just do not think they have the right to do it to children who are too young to have a faith or know what is going on.
      They are being compelled to believe in God. I think that’s wrong.

  3. Well, I have never had an infection. What evidence do you have to show rates of infection from male circumcision? Male circumcision is very popular and widespread in the USA because it’s considered more hygienic for the penis. No one is compelled to believe in God. Children mature into adulthood and make their own decisions. Clearly if they have been raised in a community of which the majority believe in God then that person is likely to adhere to the belief and culture of the community. That’s not compulsion. If you were raised in a hippy commune then the likelihood is that you would believe in and practise free love with the risk of infection from stds.

    1. No – the risk of infection is from the operation itself – not afterwards. The medical opinion is that there is little if any benefit from circumcision.
      I don’t agree with your logic. Children are indoctrinated easily. That’s why we see people in Jewish communities, Muslim communities, Hindu or Christian communities largely taking on the religion of their parents. It is a small minority who are strong enough to rebel. The Jesuits recognized this. By the time they get to adulthood the damage has been done.
      If I’d been raised in a hippy commune I would certainly have a different outlook.

      1. The risks with such an operation (excluding the use of anaesthesia) are always afterwards during the healing process. This is the critical phase of infection.

    2. Yes Bernard, in many civilised countries also non-believing or non-religious parents are presented to have a circumcision for their male infants for hygienic reasons.

      As a person belonging to the flower power movement and hippy commune, believing in shared love, I must say lots of people have a totally wrong idea of how we went on with love and sexual desires. It is also not because we have used certain stimuli when we where younger and preached or still preach for agapè love, that we would have lived without mutual respect for the other sex or for the same sex or that we all lived abundantly with the risks of getting (in later years) HIV and other sexual diseases or that we lived without a respect for our Creator the Divine God and His Laws.

      1. Respect is what it was all about – and tolerance, love, meaning, peace and living in harmony away from society’s destructive war machine.

  4. The risk of infection in the UK or any other developed nation must be low. All the operation involves is cutting off a small amount of loose skin. I think you are exaggerating the risk. Where’s your evidence? Millions have been performed in the USA. What’s the problem with children following their parents’ culture and belief and how does it necessitate the causing of damage to the individual? Rebellion of itself causes disruption in society and we have too much of that globally. Most communities are stable because their members have shared values and beliefs which create stability.

    1. Bede – I don’t think there is much of a risk. I just think it is of dubious benefit and unnecessary.
      Yes stability does count for something and collectively believing in fictions creates that stability – but is it right to make people believe in fictions?

    1. Well I suppose that has worked for a few thousand years. It seems to be unravelling now though. We need a new unifying fiction that we can all believe in. The old religions have been exposed for the sham they are. I suggest the UN is a better substitute. We should breathe new energy into it and get it working properly.

  5. The UN is toothless and a gravy train. I read a book by a UCL professor, “Power Politics” on International Law, and I agree with its theme that what happens in the world is decided by the most powerful countries. How can you change that?

    1. I don’t know? Make it more democratic? Take away the vetoes? Give it more teeth? I do think that we need an international body with a good set of humanitarian policies to address all the wrongs going on that are outside the jurisdiction of nations. The UN is the only one we’ve got.

      1. Opher( you may be for the UN but why are you propagating limitation to the freedom of religion the freedom of education, the freedom of parenthood, the freedom of expression and as such going against so many human rights to promote your way of life, which all others should agree with?

      2. Marcus – I do not think I am. Quite the contrary. I am standing up for the child. Just because they are young why should they have a parents’ choices thrust upon them? I am opposed to indoctrination.
        I believe any adult should be free to follow whatever religion or belief they wish – but not impose it on their children.
        I believe a parent should bring up their children in a sound moral environment without saddling them with religious or political views.
        In terms of education I believe all children are deserving of an excellent education (free from indoctrination) and not just the wealthy who are able to pay for a superior version. That means superb, properly funded, State education.
        How would my views limit freedom of expression? I am all in favour of free speech and liberal tolerance. I just do not want restrictions imposed on children. That’s not freedom. It is the opposite.

      3. I’ve been following this conversation with interest. Indoctrination… The plain fact is every parent raises their children in line with the parents’ view. That’s what we do as parents. No matter whether it’s religious principles or just plain moral principles, we DO indoctrinate them. And how you raised your children is no different from what I see, Opher. You also indoctrinated them in your own philosophy. Merriam-Webster’s definition of indoctrination says “Definition of indoctrinate. indoctrinated; indoctrinating. transitive verb. 1 : to instruct especially in fundamentals or rudiments : teach. 2 : to imbue with a usually partisan or sectarian opinion, point of view, or principle.” What you believe is certainly as sectarian as what anyone else believes. Or so it seems to me. Indoctrination may be the wrong word?

      4. Cheryl – I don’t agree and I do agree. We can’t help but bring our children up with our philosophy and morals – but we can avoid indoctrinating them with our religious or political views. I tried to teach my children and students to think and question and not accept. I think we were successful in that.
        My parents had strong religious and political views but never put that on to us in any way. It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I really started delving into religion and had my religious phase. As for politics – that took a little longer.
        I think one can instil morals without indoctrinating with religious views. Religion should surely be a personal belief that should be approached when one has the thinking capacity to deal with it – not something instilled before a child is capable of understanding?

      5. “…but we can avoid indoctrinating them with our religious or political views…” Well, I hear what you’re saying and I think that’s true to a certain extent. But it’s also true that kids pick up a lot of stuff by osmosis. So if the parents are practicing some theological or political inclinations, there is no way kids’ thinking is not going to be influenced by that. Ii just don’t think a child’s world can be “indoctrinally” (is that even a word?) pure. Your parents may not have “put their views on you,” but you turned out to believe very much that THAT was the only way to raise children, right? In other words you picked it up from them. Does that make sense? I guess I just don’t think we can shield our kids from what happens in their immediate environment no matter how hard we try. And I have struggled with that.

      6. I hear what you say Cheryl. But when I look at my childhood I think it was pretty idyllic. My parents gave me freedom, love, praise and backed what I wanted to do. My Mum was a spiritualist but she never once tried to get me interested. My Dad was into politics but kept his views to himself. They never tried to foist their views on me. That is how I see is for the best.
        It is a moot point as to how much we influence our kids. We do set moral values and we do socialise them. My Dad was a racist but he didn’t try to poison me against other races. I guess there is a path of tolerance, questioning and freedom that walks that line.

      7. For what it’s worth, I was raised in church and it didn’t stop me questioning faith continually. Still to this day I’m very open and honest with my questioning. How can one not be and figure out what’s real for them?

      8. Cheryl – I see it all the time in the life of the Rock ‘n’ Rollers. Once the seeds are firmly instilled in childhood they are impossible to remove. People like Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard both vacillated to extremes. They did their drinking, orgies and drugs and then were ridden with guilt and went to the other extreme with religion. You may question all you like but you still go back to the belief because it is firmly entrenched. I was not brought up with that belief and do not feel any fear, guilt or need. I try to look at the whole business rationally. In my late teens and early twenties I had a real interest in religion and studied, meditated and investigated. It was interesting. But I came to the realisation that it was all out of the heads of men and had no foundation. I do not think there is any god, certainly not one interested in individuals, or power of prayer (any greater that personal effects) and no heaven or hell. Whether there is an underlying spirituality or force is debateable.

      9. I guess for me it’s all about the energy and the light. Since energy can’t be destroyed (right?) I am fascinated with speculating about what DOES happen to us when we pass on. I think we’re all part of one another… I don’t know if you call that a religion or just a fanciful notion! LOL

      10. Energy can be changed from one form to another but not destroyed.
        What you describe is an idea that fascinated me during my religious phase. I wrote a lot about it. The concept of us all being absorbed into a great metaphysical mind. It’s a nice thought.

  6. That’s the crux of the problem with the UN. It expends enormous resources but its achievements don’t justify the expenditure. Look how the UN stood idly by in Rwanda, Bosnia for example. The reality is that a powerful nation, Russia, USA, China for example, will act as they wish and be curbed only by another powerful country not the UN. The UN could not even protect the Rohinga in Myammar or civilians in Syria. The book I referred to I read in 1971 when I was a law student and nothing has changed in my view.

    1. But isn’t that what needs putting right? they need to be empowered to act to stop atrocities and they need the USA, Russian and Chinese vetoes removing.
      It needs an overhaul but I still think it’s necessary.

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