Male genital mutilation
Of children, by the US government!
Female circumcision is now properly called genital mutilation. We would imprison and strike off the register any doctor who did it.
But although foreskins also serve an important function – movement within them during intercourse reduces abrasions for both partners – male circumcision is tolerated, even in newborns or children. But attitudes are changing, and in most of the world the medieval practice of adults cutting children’s genitalia is dying away.
Except in Africa, if the US government has its way. The United States Agency for International development (USAID) plans campaigns to circumcise adults and newborns in Africa (click here for more). Circumcising men has some justification, it may reduce sexual transmission of HIV, although the evidence is only moderately strong (details here). Even so, it’s a jump to apply it to babies. There have been no trials in babies, and nor should there be. No ethics committee would ever sanction such an experiment.
Besides the damage of the operation, there are the usual complications of infection and bleeding, as well as the special risks of removing too much skin or accidentally damaging the penis itself.* More importantly infected needles may be a factor keeping HIV infection rates high in Africa (click here for more). How can USAID be confident that their campaign will not contribute to that?
Newborn circumcision is one of the many things governments should do less of.
*If you’ve a strong stomach and there are no children about, type “complications of circumcision” into Google. Most pictures are of procedures done in developed countries.