German court rules religious circumcision illegal

After generations of reluctance to confront a ‘sensitive religious issue’ – seemingly content to allow boys to be sexually mutilated – the legal system of one of the world’s largest secular democracy’s has taken decisive action. The regional court in Cologne this week found the practice of circumcising children before they could decide for themselves amounted to grievous bodily harm, with the finding expected to set a legal precedent.

This is great news for future generations of males in Germany, who now seem destined to enjoy legal protection from forced genital cutting practices, along with a number of other jurisdictions around the world, who are also moving towards banning circumcision.

The finding comes at a significant time, with the Australian government having recently announced a review into Medicare funding of circumcision. As the world’s only national government to fund non-therapeutic circumcision surgery for male minors, perhaps this will be the wake-up call the Australian government needs. The only appropriate course of action at this time is for the upcoming ‘review ‘ to be transferred from the Health Department to the Attorney General’s Department.

Read more here.

He probably won’t need to get it done later: another circumcision myth busted

You may have heard Australian parents justify circumcising their baby ‘to save him from having it done later’. They will quote the story of ‘a friend of a friend who knew someone who had a son…’, but how many boys actually need to have it done later for a medical reason? And of those that were done for a medical reason, how many could have been treated with a less invasive method? To attempt to answer those questions we can look at the overall circumcision rate in countries where they respect the genital autonomy of their children. Countries such as Spain, Denmark and Finland have a an overall circumcision prevelance of less than 2%. This includes men who were circumcised as children, or circumcised later for religious, medical or other reasons. In other words, there are at least 98% of men in these countries who will never need to be circumcised. The situation in Australia is slightly different. Circumcision was so prevelant that generations of Australians have forgotton how a normal penis is supposed to function, and they, at the suggestion of their doctors who are likely to be circumcised themselves, are too quick to circumcise when a less aggressive treatment is available. But even in this ‘pro-cutting’ culture, a recent analysis of data extracted from the National Morbidity Database, the Australian Studies of Health and Relationships research database and the Australian Bureau of Statistics has concluded that:

“…at least 93 per cent of boys will never require a circumcision, so inflicting (routine infant circumcision) on them to avoid such a possibility is at best pointless and at worst a criminal infringement of their human rights and bodily integrity.”

Read more at this bubhub forum post.

Cancer Council Australia refutes claims about circumcision and cancer of the penis

Make up a new claim re: circumcision and healthIn a desperate attempt to reverse the trend of declining circumcision rates in Australia, Sydney University’s Professor of Molecular Biology Brian Morris in 2011 cited reduced risks of cancer of the penis as one of many highly dubious claims in support of circumcising infant boys.

In a swift rebuttal to the claims,  Cancer Council Australia stated:

“There has been recent discussion in the Australian media about male circumcision, including suggestions that circumcision can reduce the risk of cancer. Circumcision, however, is not a cancer issue in Australia.”

Not only were the claims refuted, but a clear message was posted on their website to discourage circumcision proponents from perpetuating the false claims:

“Given the lack of evidence to support circumcision as a cancer control measure in Australia, in Cancer Council Australia’s view it is inappropriate to complicate the debate on circumcision by suggesting the procedure could contribute to reduced cancer burden in Australia.”

For some reason some parents continue to cite a reduced risk of penile cancer as a reason to amputate the most sensitive part of their baby boy’s body. This is despite cancer of the penis being so rare that it is difficult to get good statistics on this disease in Australia. In fact, Professor Morris agrees that cancer of the penis is rare by quoting: ‘It accounts for less than 1% of all malignancies in men in the USA and 0.1% of cancer deaths.’

Not only is cancer of the penis rare, but when it does occur it is usually in elderly men. According to, the median age of diagnosis is 64 years.

If circumcision did have a protective effect for penile cancer, in countries where circumcision rates have been declining dramatically we would expect to see an increase in the rates of penile cancer. But when the real world data is examined, the opposite is true. For example, in the USA where the circumcision rate has decreased from 91% in the 1970’s to around 55% in 2002, the incidence of penile cancer (quoted by Brian Morris himself) has actually ‘decreased from 0.84 per 100,000 men in 1973 to 0.58 per 100,000 in 2002’.

The available figures also show that there is no evidence that cancer of the penis is more common in countries that do not circumcise their children. In Denmark, which has an infant circumcision rate of less that 2%, the rate of penile cancer is actually less than that of the USA, where the rate of circumcision is comparatively high. Professor Morris argues that ‘other factors besides circumcision would appear to be relevant, be they diet, lifestyle, climate or other.’ Perhaps we should be researching those other diet and lifestyle factors instead of chopping off body parts from our babies.

Why do parents and the Australian media continue to put their faith in an individual with his own agenda for wanting to see circumcision return as a common practice in Australia, rather than the medical authority with the goal of reducing cancer in Australia?

Read the latest statement from Cancer Council Australia, which was updated in June 2012.

A guide to convincing parents to circumcise their babies

Circumcision - penis size australiaTo convince otherwise well-meaning parents to take their precious, perfectly formed baby boy and amputate one of the most intimate, sensitive parts of his body would take a compelling argument. While cultural and religous influences can be strong, certain pro-circumcision individuals and groups have devised a formula to help parents go against their instincts and have their baby circumcised. We reveal the secrets to their formula to help Australian and New Zealand parents identify when they are about to be conned:

1) Keep releasing new and recycling ‘studies’ pointing to the mostly-discredited medical benefits of circumcision (perpetuating the fake ‘debate amongst experts’).

2) Frame the debate as an issue of ‘parental rights’ (as if parents choosing elective surgery for their children is somehow a right or valid parental choice). Avoid the topic of human/children’s rights – and if it comes up – compare circumcision to everyday food, education and vaccination choices parents make for their children. Always use the term ‘parental rights’ rather than ‘personal choice’ as the latter will highlight that the decision should really be made by the owner of the penis.

3) Never, ever discuss the value and functions of the male foreskin.

4) Dismiss out of hand the losses and harm caused by circumcision along with the voices of damaged and resentful men.

5) Avoid discussion of the fact that medical benefits of circumcision exist only in (biased and self-interested) studies and never in real-world settings.

6) Expresss the potential benefits vaguely ‘reduces the risk’ and/or misleadingly ‘60% reduction’ to exaggerate their importance, leaving out key facts like ‘from women to men’.

7) Don’t mention the complications of the surgery itself (loss of penis, skin bridges, scarring), and if brought up try to minimise the downsides: call haemorrhage ‘bleeding’ and MRSA ‘infection’.

8) Belittle the opposition: call serious concerns ‘notions’. Accuse those who speak out against infant circumcision as having a foreskin fetish (An odd claim which begs the question: Who has the fetish? Those who want you to give your child away to strangers who will strap him down and cut his genitals, or those who want you to hold him in your arms and accept him as perfect as he is?)

9) Drive the biggest possible wedge between male and female genital cutting. Compare the most surgical sterile variety of male genital cutting with the most horrendous, primitive variety of female genital cutting, without revealing that both have varying degrees of severity.

10) Use and the ‘buy it now’ sales strategy by falsely claiming that it is easier/less painful when done as an infant, and use fear tactics to worry parents into thinking that other purported benefits (eg. reduced risk of penile cancer, prostate cancer) only apply when done as an infant. The pro-cutters know that once the child becomes a teenager they have missed their chance, as there is no way the boy will let anyone chop off part of their most important body parts.

11) Only quote ‘experts’ from the pro-cutting community, who all have some self interest in promoting circumcision. Never quote the medical authorities as no medical authority in Australia and New Zealand (or the world for that matter) recommends infant circumcision.

The next time the Australian or New Zealand media picks up on the latest ‘study’ that shows that circumcision is now a cure for (insert the latest affliction/disease here), see if you can spot one or more of the above techniques.  If you are an expectant parent you will know how they are trying to manipulate you, and if you have joined the cause to protect our children you will know to call them out on these techniques.

The top 5 most disturbing things your boy will eventually read about his circumcision

I sometimes hear about parents who refuse to do their research about circumcision. They have made their mind up about it and just want to ‘get it done’. That’s fine for them. They may not want to read about the immediate damage and risks from the operation itself, or the life-long damage it causes, but one day, their circumcised son will read these things. He will ask himself ‘why?’ He may even go to his parents and ask them the same question.

If you are, or plan to be one of these parents, it might be wise to start preparing your answers. To help you prepare, these are the top 5 most disturbing things your son will eventually read about his circumcision:

1. Circumcision may have made his penis smaller.
While not the most serious complication, this is one of the first things that will get your son’s attention. We all know that size doesn’t matter, but we also know that every teenage boy will get out the measuring tape at some point. An Australian study found that the average size of a circumcised man was 8mm shorter than that of an intact man. It is believed that the growing erection is tethered by the reduced skin length, and cannot extend to its full size. This is validated by men who have restored their foreskins, with many reporting a subsequent gain of 1/2 to 1 inch in length.

While many will agree that length shouldn’t matter, girth is considered by many to be important. Circumcision will reduce penis girth between the glans (head) and circumcision scar. An intact man has a double layer of skin here resulting from the foreskin retracting to this position, while in a circumcised man this is obliterated, leaving just a single layer.

2. His circumcised penis is more likely to cause discomfort to his partners
Most men like to think they are capable of pleasing their partner. So it will no doubt be disturbing for him to find out circumcision will likely cause her discomfort. The foreskin is designed to slide over the glans during sex, creating a ‘smoother ride’. When it is gone there is an unnatural friction, which she may find irritating and even painful. There will also be reduced pleasure for him, but this will come as less of a surprise given that he has probably already had some experience. This aspect deserves it’s own post, but for those who want to read up on how circumcision affects enjoyment for both partners check out sex as nature intended it.

3. The irritation is not normal, and is slowly de-sensitising his penis
That chaffing feeling in his trousers is actually not normal. The glans is supposed to be covered and protected by the foreskin, and when it is not there the friction against clothing and bed sheets can be very annoying. In addition, over time that friction is creating a thin calloused layer, gradually turning the glans from a highly sensitive, mostly internal organ into a de-sensitised, dry and leathery external one. This is suspected to be one of the contributing factors to the high level of erectile dysfunction in Australia.

4. Just how much he is missing
Many people think that only a small amount of tissue is lost from circumcision. The truth is that while it may appear that a small amount of skin is taken from a baby, when the boy becomes an man, that lost skin is estimated to be between 10 and 15 square inches. The lost skin is also more richly nerve-laden than normal skin. In fact, to call it skin is a misnomer, as the foreskin is a complex series of structures including the frenulum, ridged band and mucosal tissue. All of these structures have important functions relating to protection and sexual activity.

5. He has more hair on his shaft
While every man is different, generally speaking most intact men have very little hair on the penis shaft. But your son will read that an erect circumcised penis will draw skin up onto the shaft from the scrotum to accommodate the increase in size. This results in the hair from the scrotum ending up on the shaft where it doesn’t belong.

You might find that thinking about your son and sexual activity makes you a bit uncomfortable. So on that basis, why would you even think about circumcising him as a baby and altering every single future sexual experience?

Foreskin restoration: One Australian man tells his personal story of ‘circumcision, loss, and the will to overcome’

In this personal account, Australian man James Mac relates the trauma that being circumcised as an infant has caused him in later life, whilst also providing evidence of how ‘tried and true’ foreskin restoration techniques can help victims (survivors) of circumcision lead happier, more dignified lives.