By Babar Shahid:
Circumcision did not become a common medical procedure until the late 19th century. At that time, British and American doctors began recommending it primarily as a deterrent to masturbation. Prior to the 20th century, masturbation was believed to be the cause of a wide range of physical and mental illnesses including epilepsy, paralysis, impotence, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, feeble-mindedness, and insanity.
Karen Erickson Paige writes in her 1978 article: “In the United States, the current medical rationale for circumcision developed after the operation was in wide practice. The original reason for the surgical removal of the foreskin, or prepuce, was to control ‘masturbatory insanity’ — the range of mental disorders that people believed were caused by the ‘polluting’ practice of ‘self-abuse.’
While masturbation is a completely normal and healthy activity, it is clear that circumcision was promoted in the 19th century through lies and deception. Obviously, masturbation does not cause any of the aforementioned diseases, and while today circumcision is being promoted for medical reasons, there is simply not enough evidence that circumcision has health benefits. In fact, just as in any surgical procedure, there are risks involved in circumcision.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG – Netherlands) policy statement is wonderfully clear: “There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene… circumcision entails the risk of medical and psychological complications… Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors conflicts with the child’s right to autonomy and physical integrity.” (KNMG 2010).
The British Medical Association says: “Parental preference alone is not sufficient justification for performing a surgical procedure on a child.” (BMA 2006).
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians says: “After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.” (RACP 2010).
The real reason for circumcision is the money involved in it. All over the world, doctors are paid a lot of money to circumcise infants, and rabbis and maulvis are also paid a fair amount, not to mention local barbers who use their shaving blades for more than just shaving.
Circumcision should be carried out under proper anesthesia or after making a patient unconscious, but the way it is carried out on preteens not just in rural areas but in may urban areas as well, especially in South Asia, by parents who don’t mind having their little child pinned down by grown men as he screams and yells in horror while watching a local barber with a razor in his hand to inflict brutality, is a form of barbarism which needs to stop.
Then there are mass circumcision ceremonies where many preteen boys undergo excruciating pain all at once, without any anesthetic whatsoever. I am surprised such places of cruelty are not illegal. Furthermore, it is absolutely appalling that people record such videos and upload them on YouTube. Such videos should be banned, and so should be circumcision until and unless it is carried out using proper anesthesia by trained professionals under hygienic conditions.
In this day and age where female genital mutilation is considered inhuman and there are protests worldwide against it, male genital mutilation takes a back seat. It is rarely talked about, and brushed aside as being a matter or little importance, if any. It is a widespread belief among South Asians that carrying out circumcision on a preteen without anesthetic is a trivial matter.
Religiosity has little to do with circumcision. Being a Muslim and speaking from an Islamic point of view, if you want to be religious, pray five times daily, fast in Ramadan, be courteous to people, have a heart that is free from jealousy and hatred, be kind and loving, respectful and helpful, and don’t harm anyone – not even an animal.
The shape of the penis is not the deciding factor of a person’s religiosity or humanity.