Circumcision Must Go!

By George C. Denniston | 25 November 2012
Church and State

Editor’s note: George C. Denniston M.D., M.P.H. (Harvard), is President of Doctors Opposing Circumcision, an international organization with members on six continents. He cannot understand why Catholics and Mormons (he has been to their President with this question) do not protect their own against a practice that is only harmful to them, and has no religious significance. This is a brief essay by him to touch off the discussion.

(Credit: YouTube / screengrab)

Circumcision has been around for a long time. We have recently reached a stage in human evolution where we are capable of recognizing it for what it is, and doing away with it.

Recently the District Court of Cologne, Germany declared in a landmark ruling that anyone who cuts boys foreskins for religious reasons is punishable for causing bodily injury. In its judgment, the Court made clear that neither the rights of the parents nor the freedom of religion guaranteed in Basic Law could justify this intervention.

At long last, a judicial entity has called a spade a spade. Circumcision is an assault on the individual, and no one, especially not a doctor, has the right to do this to another person. It constitutes a massive violation of the individual’s basic human rights. A doctor who performs a circumcision in Germany these days can be prosecuted.

Why do some individuals insist on doing this to other people? Leaving aside the religious commandment, there is another reason. Someone who has been deprived of half of the skin of his normal penis, with the 20,000 plus sensitive nerve endings, will never experience the joy of sex, as it was meant to be – in all mammals for the past 65 million years (all mammals have foreskins). So it should not be surprising to find a deep anger in many a victim. This anger often results in denial, which can manifest as a compulsion to circumcise, or to see to it that others are circumcised. When this tragic relationship generally becomes recognized, steps will be taken to prevent these compulsives from ruining the lives of so many others.

To help put this in perspective, lets compare a pedophile with a circumcising individual. Which is worse, a person who plays with a child’s penis, and harms him psychologically, or a person who tortures (by definition: torture is hurting another, whether intended or not), and permanently mutilates (again, by definition) another human being, and also harms him psychologically? We know how society reacts to a pedophile. How should it react to a circumciser? When the public fully recognizes what is going on, most will want to put an end to the tragic practice.

At this very moment, we are in the midst of the greatest scandal in American medical history. The Gates Foundation has given over One Billion dollars to circumcise some 600,000 African males, allegedly to prevent AIDS. Everyone knows that circumcision does not prevent AIDS. America has the highest rate of circumcision in the industrialized world, as well as the highest rate of AIDS. Most of these AIDS victims in America were already circumcised.

Circumcision plays no role in preventing AIDS. In fact, it will play a role in increasing the rate of AIDS in Africa. First there will be all the extra cases caused by dirty instruments during the surgery. At present about 30% of African AIDS is caused by doctors who fail to sterilize their instruments. Second, AIDS will increase because there will be less condom use. Men will believe the circumcision protects them, and they will no longer want to wear condoms because their sensitivity is now much decreased.

Even if circumcision were to be able to decrease AIDS by 60%, the claim made by the researchers, most everyone would still get AIDS eventually. So it is not an effective preventive. But the real indication of fraud is that the researchers cited relative risk, rather than absolute risk, which makes it seem so much more effective. The absolute risk was only about 1.3%. That might not have gotten them the money to carry out their nefarious scheme. So they cited relative risk at 60%. They wanted that money and they got it. This huge tragedy is a result of the compulsive nature of the victims, stopping at nothing to get others to suffer the same losses they suffered. When people begin to understand what is going on here, circumcision will no longer be tolerated.

Doctors Opposing Circumcision – George Denniston

Doctors Opposing Circumcision – HIV / AIDS

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  1. Only by denying the existence of excruciating pain (even if an analgesia is used), perinatal encoding of the brain with violence, interruption of the maternal/infant bond, betrayal of infant trust, the risks and effects of permanently altering normal genitalia, the right of human beings to sexually intact and functional bodies, and the right to individual religious freedoms can human beings continue to practice this anachronistic blood ritual. With all the evidence pointing to the unconscionable and flawed African studies, which misconstrued the obvious–circumcision will not protect anyone from HIV/AIDS when safe sex-practices are ignored, it becomes apparent that those who continue to promote or condone circumcision have not read ALL the literature or have a personal, cultural, religious, or financial agenda. This year, a German high court moved circumcision from the medical to the human rights arena, where it rightfully belongs. The Nordic countries are looking at the issue because, in those countries, children's rights are recognized, respected, and honored. It's time the rest of the world recognized those rights, too!

  2. Thank you for your article Dr Denniston, it's good to hear people opposing this dangerous and expensive farce. But firstly, you say: "The Gates Foundation has given over One Billion dollars to circumcise some 600,000 African males, allegedly to prevent AIDS." That would be a lot for only 600k, one of these figures must be incorrect?

    Also, you say "At present about 30% of African AIDS is caused by doctors who fail to sterilize their instruments." I agree that unsafe healthcare is a huge and underestimated risk, but where did this 30% figure come from?

    Malcolm Potts, you may well have anecdotes about Zimbabwean men lining up to be circumcised, so do UNAIDS. But the data from DHS shows that Zimbabwe is one of the countries where HIV prevalence is higher among circumcised than uncircumcised men.

    Evidence from Kenya shows that the vast majority of people who have 'lined up' to be circumcised (it was extremely aggressively marketed there) are teenagers. Adult males have been staying away in droves.

    There is now the view, among men and women, that circumcision is 'hygienic' as if sex is dirty, which I guess many conservatives think it is. However, dirt is dirty, whether circumcised or not. Cleanliness can be effected regardless of circumcision status, as long as there are clean water and sanitation facilities available, which generally they are not in high HIV prevalence countries.

    • Surely, Simon, you don't think that all the money Gates gave for this purpose ever reaches the people it was intended for!
      And it is well known that few doctors in Africa sterilize their equipment. Americans are warned not to use them, so the risk of infection is huge.

  3. What is important about this article is that when male circumcision is inlicted on a new born it's not their choice! Statistics regarding aids is also not the issue here. This is an absolutely barbaric act. Here in Kilkenny, we had a right old brouhaha when it was discovered that a member of a certain African country was a travelling circumciser. The proverbial hit the fan when a young girl had atrocious scars inflicted on her young body and could have bled to death. Regrettably, the outcome to cases such as these are 'in camera' so the general public don't hear the outcome. Circumcision, like religion, should be a person's own choice not foisted upon them.

  4. As an Israeli and an Atheist I'm waiting for the day when genital mutilation (for boys, and girl) is considered criminal.

    Enough with the barbaric rituals of the iron age.

    Here's to humanism and enlightenment!

  5. The African clinical trials were ended after about 18 months, when they should have been allowed to run at least 5 years, preferably 10. A long timespan would have allowed risk compensation to manifest itself, if it exists. Risk compensation is a very real social science fact of life.

    I have heard that the circumcised treatments received free condoms and an anti-AIDS lecture, while the intact controls received neither. If this is true, then the African RCTs are utterly compromised.


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