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Print this pageMALE CIRCUMCISION: Efforts in the US to ban ritual circumcision of boys gets under way




San Francisco Chronicle

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News release


Intactivists from inundate Congress and ten state legislatures with bills to protect boys from forced circumcision.

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[15 January 2013] - Genital integrity activists from across the country are demanding that lawmakers ban the practice of circumcising boys. Popularly known as “intactivists”, these children’s rights advocates submitted the Male Genital  Mutilation (MGM) Bill proposal to more than 2,000 legislators this week in an  effort to require gender neutrality in federal and state laws that regulate genital cutting.

As director of’s Indiana state office in Indianapolis, Jeff  Cowsert wants all boys to be able to grow up with their genitals left  intact. “When I was eight years old, my religious friends told me about  circumcision,” said Cowsert. “I was silently outraged, and for the remainder of  my childhood I mourned the fact that I didn't have a complete body. I would not  have chosen to be cut if given the choice, and I strongly feel that infant  circumcision needs to be banned so that men can make their own choices about  their own bodies when they are mature adults.”

Ending male circumcision is a goal shared by many women, as well. Shelley  Wright-Estevam is a mother and business owner who serves as the group’s state  office director in Selbyville, Delaware. “You shouldn’t have to be born female  to be protected from genital cutting,” said Wright-Estevam, who has frequently  been spotted spreading her message of intactivism on the boardwalk in nearby Rehoboth Beach. “I have heard some people argue that parents should be the ones  to make that decision, but violence against a child is not a private matter.  Circumcision is not just unnecessary; it also removes a male’s most sensitive  body part. It's unethical, painful, harmful, and occasionally  even fatal.”

Male circumcision was one of the top issues for lawmakers around the world in  2012. It started in January when a Helsinki district court convicted a man of  assault and battery for circumcising two Muslim boys. The following month, the Swedish Pediatric Society issued a statement calling circumcision an “assault” that should  be banned. Then, in June, the Centre  Party in Norway called on the Red-Green coalition government to grant boys legal  protection from circumcision.

Two months later in August, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute recommended  that the state impose a general  prohibition on circumcision while Denmark opened an investigation to  determine if circumcision violates its health code. And in October, Finland’s largest opposition party  promised to introduce a bill that would criminalise circumcision of boys.

But the biggest news came out of Germany over the summer, when a Cologne  district court ruled that circumcision of male children is a crime. Although Germany’s parliament later overrode the  decision by passing a new law, the German Pediatric Association called for that law to be rejected, stating that boys  have “the same basic constitutional legal rights to physical integrity  as girls”.

Circumcision was a hot topic in America, as well, when children’s rights  groups slammed an American Academy of Pediatrics policy statement that sanctioned parental  access to newborn circumcision. New York City also implemented disclosure  and consent rules regarding the practice of ritual circumcision after two  baby boys died from contracting herpes during the procedure. And with H.R. 2400 (the “Religious and Parental Rights Defense Act of 2011”) failing to get past the House  Energy and Commerce Committee, the path is now clear for state governments  to prohibit circumcision of male minors within their own borders.

Matthew Hess, president of, said lawmakers can’t hide from the issue  forever. “There are too many people speaking out against circumcision now,” said Hess. “What once was a trickle of condemnation has now become a tidal wave.  Modern parents are armed with information on the harmful effects of foreskin  amputation, and circumcised men are much more willing to speak out against what  was done to them as infants. I think the days of legalized childhood  circumcision in this country are numbered.”

In addition to submitting the MGM Bill proposal to every member of the 113th  Congress, the group’s representatives submitted similar bills to every state  lawmaker in California, Delaware, Florida, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New  York, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington.


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San Francisco Chronicle

Last updated 17/01/2013 14:41:47

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.

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Michael Roloff wrote on 22/01/2013:
Making it a taboo to compare male with female sexual mutilation is the biggest scandal of the controversy. In both instances the most sensitive and most erogenous zone of the human body is amputated and severely damaged. In both instances, what counts primarily is the cutting of human sexuality. The imposition of control by the patriarchy.

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