In this article and the ones that follow, I will try to expose the crime of male circumcision that is constantly committed in our hospitals and elsewhere, for no real medical reason. My goal is to speak up against the silence of the lawmaker, the medical and religious authorities and the intellectual media, and to stop this crime that claims innocent children as its victims.
We vehemently condemn female circumcision, but keep totally silent in face of male circumcision. National and international campaigns are launched regularly against female circumcision, but nothing against male circumcision. The first question that arises is if such a distinction between the two circumcisions is justifiable.
1) Distinction on the basis of the severity of the procedure:
We often read that female circumcision is a severe operation, while male circumcision is benign. But such a generalization is inaccurate. We need to know that male circumcision and female circumcision each cover four types of operations. We will start with male circumcision.
There are four types of male circumcision:
- 1st type. It consists of partially or totally cutting the skin of the penis that goes beyond the glans. This skin is called the foreskin.
- 2nd type: the form of circumcision that is practiced by Jews. The circumciser starts by pulling the skin of the penis forward, and cuts all of the part that surpasses the glans. This procedure is called milah in Hebrew. Next, he pulls the skin back behind the glans, and cuts the part of skin that remains between the cut and the glans (the folding of the foreskin), using the nails of his index and thumb, or a pair of scissors. This procedure is called in Hebrew periah.
- 3rd type: it consists of completely flaying the skin of the penis and sometimes the scrotum (skin of the testicles), as well as the pubic skin. This form or circumcision, called salkh in Arabic, existed among southern Arabian tribes (and may still exist today), as well as certain tribes in black Africa.
- 4th type: it consists of slitting the urethra, creating a long opening that resembles the female vagina. It is called subincision and is still practiced among Australian natives.
Facing these four types of male circumcision, there are four types of female circumcision as well:
- 1st type: excision of the prepuce (clitoral hood).
- 2nd type: excision of the hood and the clitoris, totally or partially.
- 3rd type: excision of the hood, the clitoris, and total or partial excision of the labia minora.
- 4th type: total or partial excision of the outer sexual organs and sewing/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation).
We cannot say, therefore, that female circumcision is generally more severe than male circumcision. It depends on the type of circumcision.
We will also add that both male and female circumcision, to whatever degree; carry risks of hemorrhage, infection, deformity and death. Certain male circumcisions went so bad that doctors were forced to change the boy into a girl, by completely removing his sexual organs and producing a vagina on him.
2) Male and female circumcision and sexuality
We often read that, contrary to female circumcision, male circumcision has no effect on the man’s sexuality.
Any generalization on this topic is false. Indeed it all depends on the type of circumcision we are talking about. Even if we refer to the first or second type of male circumcision, Jewish authors such as Philo or Maimonides, and Christian authors like Thomas of Aquin or Ibn-Assal, and classic Muslim authors such as Ibn-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah or Al-Mannawi, state that the procedure’s goal is to reduce male sexual pleasure. Indeed, the foreskin is considered as the most sensitive part of the male sexual organ. By removing it, we also remove the glands that produce lubricant, and we deprive the glans of its protection. This turns the sexual organ less sensitive and less humid, and intercourse becomes harder and painful. Circumcised men use artificial lubricants more often in order to moisten the penis, which is not necessarily good for the health of either the male or the female. On the other hand, female circumcision certainly affects pleasure if it touches the clitoris. But it is recognized today that even the most drastic form of female circumcision does not totally deprive women of sexual pleasure. Sometimes, the clitoral hood is excised in order to have more sexual pleasure by leaving the clitoris cleared. These procedures take place in Western societies, on white women, in order to treat frigidity and increase sexual pleasure.
3) Medical advantages of male and female circumcision
We often read that male circumcision confers medical advantages. Actually, if we examine western medical literature from the 19th century onwards, we confirm that doctors used to think that both male and female circumcision had medical benefits. Also, the first reason why westerners started circumcising men and women was to curb masturbation, which was believed to cause numerous untreatable illnesses. Hygienic reasons were also pushed forward. This reason is valid for both men and women. Male and female circumcisions were also considered as a means to fight epilepsy, urinary tract infections, or cancer. Lastly, we pretended that male circumcision protects against AIDS. But if this were true, Americans would be less infected by AIDS than Europeans, but in fact the opposite is true. On the other hand, since circumcision deprives the male sexual organ of a part of skin and turns it tighter and dryer, there is more risk of tearing and therefore an increased risk of infection. We also estimate that circumcised men engage more frequently in oral and anal relations, which increases the risk of AIDS.
Actually, circumcision only has two certain medical benefits: it reduces infant weight and grows the doctor’s pockets heavier. All of the other reasons are fallacious, with the exceptions of extremely rare cases of deformities and infections that resist antibiotics. Consequently, there shouldn’t be any more circumcisions than there are nose or leg amputations. One of the reasons male and female circumcisions continue is the financial gain. In the United States, if you tell a doctor not to circumcise, he will understand that you want to circumcise his salary. We asked a pro-circumcision doctor named Wiswell what would it take for him to change his mind, and he answered: one million dollars.
4) Men don’t complain.
We often read that we don’t hear men complaining about male circumcision. In fact, if a man complained this would mean accepting problems with his virility. Hence the very small number of complaints from men. Also, men who were circumcised as infants cannot compare, since they have always lived with mutilated penises. But it must be noticed that in the United States, there is a growing movement of men and women, both Jews and Christians, who oppose circumcision and consider it as an attack upon physical integrity of men and sexual pleasure. Circumcised men are turning to systems of foreskin restoration. They pull on the skin of their penis for several months, until they are able to cover the glans. Those who have tried this method, thoroughly described on Internet, claim they have gained sexual pleasure. Some say they now make love in color, and before they used to make it in black and white. Studies show that male circumcision affects the person’s psyche and, therefore, society itself. Some claim there is a link between violence, rape and pedophilia in the United States, and male circumcision. This theory has been especially developed by a Jewish psychologist named Ronald Goldman, on a doctoral thesis about the trauma caused by male circumcision in the United States.
My book in Arabic on male and female circumcision, prefaced by Dr. Nawal Al-Saadawi can be read for free here: http://www.yassar.freesurf.fr/library/bal547_00.html or downloaded here: http://www.sami-aldeeb.com/files/fetch.php?id=182
Here are my three books in French and in English:
Circoncision masculine – circoncision féminine: religious, medical, social and legal debate. L’Harmattan, Paris, 2001, 537 pages.
Circoncision: Le complot du silence, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2003, 244 pages.
Male and female circumcision among Jews, Christians and Muslims: religious, medical, social and legal debate, Shangri-La Publications, Warren Center, PA 19951, USA, 2001, 400 pages.
Egypt: Anti-Male Circumcision Campaign
October 15, 2009
In 2008 Egypt passed a law that banned female circumcision (FGM). Today a group of bloggers started a campaign against male circumcision.
Zobaida owner of Al Haramlek Blog gave birth to a baby boy and refused to have him circumcised at the hospital; She wrote about her encounter with the physician at the hospital:
"يا مدام… دي نضافة عشانه"
آه… ده انت جاي لرزقك بقى، باعتبارنا في القرن الرابع للهجرة وما عندناش مية ولا صابون ولا "وِت وايبس" جونسون وجونسون
فكرت أن أشرح للطبيب الأنيق إنه في أغلب الظن حمار لا يقرأ ولا يعرف سوى ما قرأه في "كتيب الاستخدام". فكرت أن أشرح له أيضا إنني لن أسمح لليهود أن يقرروا التقطيع من جسم رضيع أنا مسئولة عنه. إنما عدت وتذكرت: بالنظر لإنه حمار ولم يقرأ سوى كتيب الاستخدام ولا يعرف عن اليهود سوى إنهم أحفاد القردة والخنازير … إيه احتمالات إنه يفهم؟
The doctor said: "This is a procedure for his own hygiene"
She replied: "Oh Yes .. since we are in the 4th Hijri
year and we've never heard of soap, shampoo, and Johnson & Johnson's wet wipes?"
I thought of explaining to the doctor who most probably knows nothing about the human anatomy other than what he studied as our "user manual." I also contemplated telling him that I will not let Jews force me to cut off parts of my baby's body but I decided to keep my mouth shut - since he probably knows nothing about Jews other than what he hears of them being the grandsons of monkeys and pigs … really what are the chances of him getting any of what I have to say?
Then she looked at her son and said:
لا أعرف النقطة التي خرج عندها الطبيب الأنيق تحديدا، كان الولد ملفوفا بعمر يوم واحد يكاد لا يلاحظ لو طويت عليه معطفي وهم يريدون أخذه ليوخزوه بالإبر ويقصوا من جسده المنهك بالمقص، ويعذبون أيامه الأولى بالبول الحمضي السائل على جرحه المفتوح. آه يا جزارين يا مجرمين يا جهلة. ما تخافش يا واد، ولا حد يقدر يلمسك وأنا موجودة، أمال إنت فاكر إيه؟ لما تكبر ابقى قطع في روحك زي ما أنت عايز، إنما لحد ما تكبر لك عندي أسلمك لنفسك صاغ سليم.
I do not know when the doctor left us exactly but what were they thinking when they wanted to take my one day old baby boy to stick needles into his frail body and cut a piece of him with a cold scissor? Those butchers want to torture you on your first days in this world and cause you unbearable pain when urine touches his gaping wound .. those ignorant butchers! Fear them not my dear son, no one will lay a finger on you as long as I am alive. When you grow up you can cut off whichever part of your body you choose … until then no one will touch you.
Thinking of her newborn, she wished:
كنت أود أن أعده إن تلك هي المرة الأخيرة التي سيتهدده الجهل والقسوة فيها، ولكنني كنت أعلم إنها ليس كذلك، وإن هذه ليست سوى الموقعة الأولى … فحسب.
How I wish I could promise you that this would be the last time you will be threatened by ignorance and cruelty but I know that this is not how the story goes … this is just the first round!
Emad of Something for the Soul wrote:
الحمد لله نجحت حملة أوقفوا ختان الأولاد … ليس فقط البنات
و إنضمت إلينا الدكتوره سهام عبد السلام و هى باحثه و مؤلفة لاحد الكتب و فى السابق أجرى موقع العربيه معها لقاء و نشره تحت عنوان باحثة مصرية
ترى ان ختان الذكور جزارة ارتبطت بالمجتمع الذكوري وان الاسلام لا علاقة له بالختان و عنوان فرعى الختان جزاره لا طهاره و فتحت علينا كنز من معلوماتها العليمة و عن طريقها إتصلت بنا منظمه أمريكيه إسمها نوسيرك تتخصص فى محاربة ختان الأولاد تلك العاده التى أخذت تقل فى الولايات لمتحده
Thank God, our Facebook campaign calling for the banning of male circumcision
has attracted a lot of attention and members. Dr. Seham Abdel Salam
- a researcher and author - supported our cause saying that male circumcision is pure butchery and is directly traced to male-dominant societies; Islam has nothing to do with such a habit. Also NOCIRC
- an American organization that is combating male circumcision - got in touch with us.
On their Facebook group, they tackled several issues directly related to the resistance of their campaign; religion, Science, AIDS, and hygiene.
Blogger Ahmad Al Sabbagh has had it with such campaigns saying:
ثم فجاءة وعلى حين غرة وفى غفلة من الزمن وقد توقفت الساعة عن الدوران وجدت من يعبث بذكورتى .. أسف لا أعنى هذا المعنى الأبيح الذى برز إلى مخيلتك .. لكننى وأثناء جولة فيسبوكية إعتدت أن اقوم بها كل عدة أيام .. فوجئت بأن هناك حملة كبرى تم تدشينها للدعوة إلى وقف ختان الذكور وفوراً !!
ليس هذا فقط بل إن الجروب مدعم بالصور والرسومات التوضيحية التى تبين فظاعة جريمة ختان الذكور !!
طبعاً .. لن أخوض فى تفاصيل أخرى لإننى لست بعالم دين .. لكن يكفى بأن أقول أنك إذا حدثت أول شيخ أو عالم دين تقابله فى طريقك عن وقف ختان الذكور فى مصر فانه بالتأكيد سوف يتخلى عن وقارة ولربما ينصحك بإعادة الختان ..
أرحمونا يرحمكم الله
ختان إيه اللى نوقفه للذكور ..
على أى نص دينى تستندون ؟
على أى قاعدة علمية تستندون ؟؟
أم أنكم تعاطفتم مع الرجل فأردتم مساواته بالمرأة التى مُنع ختانُها ؟
هل إنتهت قضايا حقوق الإنسان فى مصر ، وأصبح للعضو الذكرى الحق الوحيد فى المطالبة بوقف ختانه ؟
السادة والسيدات أعضاء المجلس القومى للمرأة والرجل والطفل وكل المجالس القومية لكافة الكائنات الحية ..
عشان خاطر النبى،
أرحمونا يرحمكم الله ..
All of a sudden and when time seemed to stand still, I came across a Facebook
group that is against male circumcision! The group posted illustrations of the procedure to support the cruelty of the notion. Of course I will not go into further details because I am not a religious figure but I bet you if you stopped any man of religion you run into the street and asked him him to share his thoughts with regards to prohibiting male circumcision, I assure you that he would be far from pleased and his decency would abandon him as he tells you to sober up!
Have mercy on us! Leave us in peace .. our baskets are full!
On what basis are you basing your demands? Religiously and scientifically? Or did you get jealous of women so you decided to plead for equality between men and women when it comes to circumcision? Did we run out of human rights causes in Egypt and we are only left with the issue of foreskin?
Have mercy on us .. I besiege you!