“This week is FGM (female genital mutilation) Prevention Week – a campaign aimed at ending an abhorrent, abusive practice that affects countless women and girls across the world. Let me be clear, this horrible ‘tradition’ is unacceptable and we need to do everything we can to end it, and help sufferers and those at risk.
However, as important as that issue is, I can’t help but ask myself: why then are we willing to accept that non-medical circumcision of male children is somehow OK?
It seems like the ultimate form of gender-based discrimination. That, somehow, boys’ bodies are less important than girls. I hate to think that in this day and age, we still allow it to happen. But it does, across the globe.
Most of us will (quite rightly) agree that cutting off part of a girl’s genital anatomy without her consent is abuse. In fact, it’s far more than that, but I don’t have time to go into all the issues involved – but they are important.
However, for some reason, many people think that cutting off part of a boy’s penis is perfectly acceptable. I just can’t reconcile that. It’s not like we’re piercing children’s ears here. Yes, there are sometimes medical reasons for male circumcision (one example being a condition called phimosis where the foreskin is too tight and causes problems). However, non-medical circumcision, which includes all forms of ritual, religious or cultural circumcision, is simply not necessary. More than that, some might even consider it abusive.
Non-medical circumcision is carried out for a number of reasons. It may be part of someone’s religion or faith (e.g. Islam and Judaism). It may be a cultural practice, for instance it’s more common in the USA. It may be because it’s just become the norm for that family. I know of several fathers who want their sons to be ‘just like them’.”