Intactivists of Australasia
As I paced the hallways while waiting for my daughter to recover from her surgery at the Sydney Children’s Hospital in Randwick, Sydney, I read a poster on the wall which outlined the hospital’s policies around it’s care for its patients.
I was reassured to read a number of points in relation to the quality of care that the hospital promised. In particular, I was pleased to read a point which was highlighting the right of bodily autonomy. While I can’t remember the exact wording, I recall that it was something like this:
“Children’s bodies are their own.”
Infant circumcision for non-medical reasons was banned in public hospitals in 1997, and as the Sydney Children’s Hospital is a public hospital there should be no non-therapeutic circumcisions being performed there. However, the doctors who practise there can easily bypass this ban by operating out of one of the private clinics surrounding the hospital. I wondered how many…
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Intactivists of Australasia
An intactivist protester at Oprah Winfrey’s show in Adelaide tonight was apparently shut down by police only 2 minutes after arriving.
The man was objecting to Oprah Winfrey’s endorsements of a face cream derived from human foreskin.
A hand-written sign held up to crowds outside the Entertainment Centre read:
“Foreskin Facecream Oprah’s Shame”
He was apparently threatened with arrest, although the police could not provide information on the details of the charge, so he was allowed to leave with his sign tossed onto the footpath.
We understand this was the first anti-genital mutilation protest to be held in Adelaide. A facebook post of the short-lived encounter has been met with support, and generated interest in organising a larger protest in the future.
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Intactivists of Australasia
On 22 February this year Bendigo councillor Elise Chapman tweeted a photo in what has been largely interpreted as an attempt to highlight the issue of female genital mutilation, and to make a tenuous link between the practice and the proposed development of a mosque in her area.
The Councillor has been a vocal objector the mosque since a proposal for it’s development was approved by Bendigo City Council last June.
The tweet, which can be seen below, was in response to a tweet to her from a supporter of the proposal to build the mosque.
If by tweeting this photo Councillor Chapman was attempting to highlight a disturbing cultural tradition, then we agree. These customs and traditions have no place in any modern society. Although as far as we are aware, there is no evidence to suggest that anyone involved with the proposed mosque practices or supports female genital mutilation.
What the media…
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The recent decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to endorse circumcision as a prophylactic measure against disease has once again drawn media attention to America’s most controversial surgery. In draft guidelines issued in December, the CDC emphasized that the most up-to-date medical science indicates clear health benefits of circumcision—including a 50%-60% reduced risk of female-to-male HIV transmission, a 30% reduced risk of transmission of the human papilloma virus (HPV), and lower risk of urinary tract infections during infancy. On the basis of these data, the CDC is recommending that health care workers counsel uncircumcised adolescent boys and men, as well as the parents of newborn males, on the potential benefits and risks of circumcision. The guidelines are currently undergoing a 45-day review period, during which the CDC is actively soliciting feedback.
According to the CDC, roughly 80% of American men are circumcised.
The CDC guidelines follow similar…
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Intactivists of Australasia
Last month, Australian doctor, TV medical commentator and former ‘The Block’ winner Dr Andrew Rochford presented a report on circumcision on Channel 7’s news ‘The Healthy Truth’ segment, which was also packaged as a story on ‘Today Tonight’ in Adelaide.
The sentiments expressed in this latest report were significantly different to those expressed in Dr Rochford’s piece on circumcision on Channel 10’s ‘The Project’ in 2010.
This earlier report was in response to the publication of a journal article which suggested that circumcision should be promoted to lower the rate of HIV transmission in Australia. Much of the TV report showed the doctor repeating the opinions expressed by others, with most statements prefaced with phrases such as ‘some people believe’ or ‘some experts claim’.
Comments on the report on the station’s website and social media sites quickly highlighted the fallacies in many of those opinions, including the following:
– A number of issues with the African…
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It seems that yet another organisation has emerged with the intent of putting circumcising doctors out of business.
This group calls themselves ‘The Australasian Institute of Genital Autonomy‘, and are a little different from the typical anti-circumcision or ‘intactivisit’ groups. Rather than being anti-circumcision, they claim to be pro-choice, and think that when they are old enough, boys should be able to decide if they want to have any part of their bodies removed.
They also suggest that all babies and children should be treated equally when it comes to cutting (or not cutting) their genitals, so that if it is wrong to cut the genitals of our female children, then it is also wrong to cut the genitals of our male and intersex children.
We all know that cutting a baby girl’s genitals is mutilation, but why is it that some are now saying that cutting a baby boy’s genitals is mutilation as well? Can we use gender alone to determine what is ‘mutilation’ and what is ‘circumcision’?
The Practical Ethics blog from Oxford University explores this issue. Read the blog post here.
Is circumcision a surgery best performed in infancy? If he’s going to get it done, isn’t it better done sooner rather than later? The WHOLE Network answers your questions.
Many parents believe that circumcising their son in infancy is a kindness. They assume getting it done sooner will save him the pain of having to endure the procedure later on in life, but what we’ve found is that the opposite is true.
While the mainstream media, and other special interest groups in Australia, may report that an increasing number of parents are returning to the ritual of infant circumcision, the facts show that actually there has been a dramatic drop since 2009, from more than 13% to 10.82%.
Male Births for 2013 not available at time of posting. Projection based on 2 year moving average trend.
Sources: Medicare, Australian Bureau of Statistics
This recent drop joined the dramatic decline from the 1970s, when it was estimated that 90% of baby boys were circumcised. Below we put forward some possible reasons for the drop:
- An increased awareness of the 16+ protective and sexual functions of the foreskin.
- An understanding that caring for an intact baby requires less effort than for one who is circumcised. No special post-surgery care is required; cleaning involves only wiping the outside – never retract (the boy does this himself when ready).
- An understanding that even if there were a slightly increased risk of UTIs from an intact penis, leaving your boy intact, in the past this was most likely caused by forced retraction of the foreskin, and, in any case, infections can be treated the same way we treat our girls – with antibiotics.
- An increase in breastfeeding, and with that, an understanding that circumcision surgery disrupts breastfeeding and bonding.
- Many Australian men are voicing their resentment at being circumcised as babies.
- A greater awareness of the immediate risks of the circumcision surgery itself.
- An appreciation of the concept of autonomy. That is, all humans should have the right to self-determination over their own bodies.
- A recent groundswell of opinion from around the world from medical authorities, political parties, and other institutions, declaring that infant circumcision is unnecessary, harmful, removes healthy, functional tissue and breaches a child’s human rights.
- With circumcision rates now at 10.82%, ‘fitting in’ can no longer be used to justify the decision to circumcise.
- The proliferation of social media, which has provided wide exposure to stories of botched circumcisions, regretful parents, and resentful men.
- A realisation that the purported benefits are marginal at best, are better achieved by basic hygiene, safe sex practices, and less invasive medical treatment. These “benefits” have been promoted by those with a monetary or other interest in circumcision, and are insignificant when balanced against the above points.
Has your doctor told you about the 28 identified complications of circumcision? If not, read about them here, and become more informed than the average Australian doctor.