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CIRCUMCISION . . .
Circumcision is the surgical removal of the foreskin,the skin which normally covers the head of the penis.
Throughout history, people around the world have practiced circumcision. For some, as with Jews and Moslems, it has been a religious ritual, for others, as in aboriginal
Australia and Africa, it has been a puberty rite.
The United States, Australia, and Canada are the remaining countries who continue the practice of routine circumcision for non-religious and non-medical reasons In fact, 85% of the world's male population is NOT circumcised.
Circumcision began in the English speaking countries during the mid 1800's (sic) supposedly to prevent masturbation which was believed to cause many diseases. Since that time, various rationale have perpetuated its practice, but all of these, including the claims that circumcision prevents penile and cervical cancers and the spread of venereal disease, have been disproven. To remove the foreskin for
hygiene is no more logical than pulling teeth instead of cleaning them.
We now recognize that the foreskin is a normal, healthy, and
necessary body part.
The Australian College of Paediatrics discourages routine
circumcision in the newborn.
Parents may believe their child should be circumcised to look like his dad or older brothers, yet children can easily accept individual differences. They will understand a simple and honest explanation:
It was thought that circumcision was important for health when your dad and brothers were born, but now we know better. Circumcision is not necessary.
As parents, we can help our children to feel good about our bodies and to respect differences in one another.
The circumcision rate (7-15%) in Australia is declining so parents will no longer need to worry that their sons might be teased for not being circumcised. In 1993, more than 85% of newborn boys are leaving hospitals intact.
PARENTS HAVE NEW CONCERNS
Now parents have begun to question the need to subject an infant to the pain of the procedure, the risks of the surgery, and the complications resulting from the removal of the protective foreskin. Parents wonder if it is their right to consent to unnecessary, irreversible surgery. The risk of a medical reason for a circumcision later is very small.
Most parents do not realize how a circumcision is performed.
The baby's arms and legs are immobilized and the genital area is scrubbed to prepare for the operation. The foreskin is forcibly separated from the glans and slit lengthwise to allow insertion of the circumcision instrument. Then, the foreskin is removed. This is usually done without an anaesthetic.
PAIN, STRESS AND RISKS
Until recently it was believed babies felt no pain due to their immature nervous systems. Studies however, indicate that babies experience physical and psychological stress both during the circumcision and for hours thereafter. The
procedure is undeniably painful. Some babies cease to cry or lapse into a deep sleep or coma which is how they are able to cope with the traumatic experience.
Circumcision is a surgical procedure with inherent risks which include haemorrhage, infection, mutilation, and possible death. Serious complications occur with one in
every 500 circumcisions.
The glans is an internal organ which the foreskin serves to cover and protect. During infancy, the foreskin is normally attached to the glans to protect it from urine, faeces, and nappy irritation. As the child grows, the foreskin provides protection from physical trauma such as zipper burns and toilet seats.
Throughout life, the foreskin protects the glans from becoming dry and hardened because of exposure and chafing.
There are special nerve endings within the foreskin which enhance sexual pleasure.
PROBLEMS CAUSED BY REMOVING THE FORESKIN
During the healing period, the raw edges of the surgical wound can attach to the glans. The manoeuvre to separate them is painful for the infant, and like the initial wound is subject to infection. The glans is no longer protected from urine and faeces when the foreskin is removed. Consequently small ulcerations can form around the urinary opening and may require painful medical procedures to open
As the foreskin represents about ONE-THIRD of the penile sensitive area, loss of sensation obviously occurs with the loss of the foreskin. Additionally, sensation decreases as the exposed glans becomes dry, thick, and hardened.
CARE OF THE INTACT PENIS
The foreskin and glans develop as one structure. The foreskin of an infant should never be retracted because it is attached to the glans. Separation of the two structures occurs gradually during childhood and the age at which a boy will be able to retract his foreskin will be different for each child. The process should never be hurried! Forcing the retraction will cause pain, bleeding and possibly infection and adhesions.
Phimosis is the name given to an unretractable foreskin. This normally exists in almost all newborn babies and in some men in adulthood. It rarely causes problems. However, should painful erections occur, gentle stretching of the foreskin opening will in time, allow for retractability. To remove the important protective foreskin with circumcision is not necessary to correct phimosis. The natural shedding of the skin cells from the foreskin lining and from the glans helps in the process of the
separation of these two structures. The cells which have been shed from a substance known as infant smegma. The baby's body effectively discharges this harmless material
which can then be wiped from the tip of the foreskin during the bath. External washing with soap and water is all that is required to maintain hygiene.
During puberty, sebaceous glands begin to function, secreting an oily substance. This additional product in adult smegma protects and lubricates the glans. At this time a male simply retracts the foreskin and cleans to prevent accumulation of smegma.
Today there is no medical justification for routine circumcision. It is therefore up to parents to recognize and protect the rights of their children as every individual has an inherent right to a whole and complete body.
Circumcision of unconsenting children is now a Human Rights & Legal Issue.
Female genital mutilation is condemned by NOCIRC as a similar absurdity.
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