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Stop Body-Shaming Me Just Because I Am Circumcised

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Circumcision is a religious ritual, both in Islam and Judaism. Medically, it is defined as the removal of the foreskin from the penis. Though it is observed as a religious custom by Muslims, nearly 80% of India, being primarily a Hindu population, views it as mutilation of perfectly normal human skin – and therefore, finds it ‘abnormal’.

Growing up differently from those around you is very difficult. If you are an Indian Muslim, chances are that you have definitely been ridiculed for your circumcision status. Slurs like katwa, or raised eyebrows at a urinal are things that I have personally experienced. This is not something that has started just recently. Even in acclaimed movies like “Mr. and Mrs. Iyer”, men were attacked based on their circumcision status during religious riots. The reel reflects the real here – as there have been episodes of a nature similar to what was shown in the film, throughout history.

Speaking from a medical perspective, circumcision decreases the chances of contracting HIV and developing urinary tract infections.The stances of the world’s major medical organisations on the issue range from considering elective circumcision of babies and children as having no benefit and posing significant risks, to considering circumcision as having a modest health benefit that outweighs small risks.

Opponents, however, argue that HIV is comparatively less prevalent in India, and therefore, such measures would only produce desired results in African countries.The disadvantages mainly lie in the removal of the foreskin, which constitutes almost half the skin on the penis. The foreskin provides natural lubrication and protection. It is well-known that a circumcised man cannot indulge in masturbation without a lubricant – which makes the act much more difficult and time-consuming.

A recent college survey in Mumbai showed that nearly 90% of the girls and 80% of the boys interviewed found the practice of circumcision harmful and totally unnecessary. This clearly shows the mindset of our country regarding this issue. The majority of the people in this country think that circumcision is act of mutilation. It is definitely considered to be taboo, and often not talked about. The Indian society is extremely judgemental, when it comes to circumcision – and therefore, most circumcised men are ashamed of being ‘abnormal’. This fear and shamefulness exists even though men suffering from phimosis (a rare disorder, characterised by the inability of the foreskin to retract from the head of the penis) do undergo circumcision.

Circumcision can also lead to embarrassment during sexual encounters, because this is something girls in India are not used to. But shaming and humiliation in this age is so ‘not cool’!

Body shaming is absolutely pathetic, and we must learn to accept someone as they are. We must introspect ourselves, before using adjectives to describe others. Many of us did not even have a choice, when we were circumcised at birth.

Foreskin or no foreskin – we are all one, and belong to the same country. Under our clothes, we are all the same – and a little piece of skin shouldn’t make any difference whatsoever!

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  1. djbinthecosmos

    Dear Ajmal Khan,

    Thank you for your courageous plea to end body shaming. As one who grew up in the U.S., where 90% of boys were circumcised when I was a kid, I experienced the reverse of your story. It seems in any culture, the minority for any condition is subject to shaming and potential or actual discrimination. You may even be aware of the hotly debated issue of routine infant circumcision in the USA, and the incredible amount of hostility and shaming that ensues online.

    Your article indicates that you have reviewed a lot of information online and have repeated many of the unsubstantiated claims of circumcision advocates and practitioners, e.g. the reduced risk of UTI’s (rare in boys and treated with antibiotics, not surgery), prevention of HIV (infants and children are not engaging in sex, condoms are the best prevention, and the African campaign is a failure), etc. Also, the risks and damage from infant circumcision are frequent and severe, and interestingly, the American medical and hospital profession do not keep a record of these complications and need for additional surgery (including my grandson), but we do know that an average of 120 babies die each year in the U.S. from this unnecessary genital cutting.

    You mention that your circumcision is due to a religious ritual, so all the medical info is really irrelevant, and it needs to be examined under cultural norms and the continuation of ancient, mythical and primitive practices.

    But your major premise here regarding shaming is well stated in your conclusion: “Body shaming is absolutely pathetic, and we must learn to accept someone as they are. We must introspect ourselves, before using adjectives to describe others. Many of us did not even have a choice, when we were circumcised at birth.” EXACTLY! And if we accept everyone just as they are, just as they were born, there would be no genital cutting. And, the owner of the penis would have a choice as an adult – and can you imagine having the skin cut off your penis as an adult? It is horrible enough for Muslim boys at a later age – I have seen the videos!

    Again, thank you for your article – your courage to speak out – and it is my hope that it will lessen body shaming – as you say, everyone is entitled to respect!

  2. William H. Harrison

    I’m sorry you were circumcised, you are not the one to blame but rather the people who continue to perpetuate this pseudo-scientific, pseudo-islamic practice, that was an arab cultural practice that they brought to converted peoples not a Muslim one. The reality is the UTI and HIV prevention ideas are outdated, and have actually shown to create false confidence and lead to higher rates of HIV, because they think they don’t need a condom something that actually prevents HIV, UTI’s are very rare in males circumcised or uncircumcised, it is women who get them the vast majority who don’t undergo FGM. Should we start cutting females like they do in Africa, Yemen, and among Bohra Muslims in India, in the name of preventing disease, it’s not necessary because men get less UTI’s then women do. Circumcision is a terrible practice and needs to be stopped across, the world it was once common in the US and is now going down in the US too, all of the developed world, south america, east Asia, India, Europe, Australia do not circumcise, it is time that we move away from this terrible outdated, and barbaric practice!

  3. Nawal Kishor

    I am a Hindu and I am circumcised . I suffered for more than 15 years from recurring balanitis that became even worse as I got older .
    I no longer get get any outbreak now . Another thing to rejoice…. I no longer get that prawny smell that emanates from the foreskin . What a relief ! I will advice all Hindu brothers to also get circumcised . Most people do it in big and modern cities . It’s no longer just for Muslims . It’s definitely clean and the sex is good . So go for it .

  4. Abhishek Goyal

    Never ever decide for circumscision,i know that some people were circumcized before surgery due to the fact same foreskin will be used for some repair elsewhere in body..

    In hinduism there is no where written for circumcision neither in buddhism, sikhism, jainism even Christianity as it is against law of nature to mutiliate and enjoy pain and kinkiness of circumscision..

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