Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome,
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
The August 31, 2013 Japan Times story from The Observer, “High hopes for victims of female genital mutilation” reminded me once again of the sad realization that there is no hope at all in the world for the many more victims of male genital mutilation. Male circumcision advocates might say there is no comparison since male circumcision, if done properly, neither robs adult men of sexual pleasure nor poses a significant health risk. But I say that arguing that removal of the prepuce does no significant harm is not an argument at all. Nor is the apology that it has a long and noble cultural heritage that places it above disrepute. That’s rubbish. There are even some lunatics among us who argue that male circumcision should be universally mandated as a public health measure. What advocates of male circumcision ought to be telling us instead is how the procedure is not a mutilation to begin with, and how lack of consent by infantile subjects to a procedure carried out on an intimate body part can conscientiously be dismissed. Claims of health benefits are unconvincing and exaggerated.
The regional court in Cologne, Germany was absolutely, positively, hands down, flat out, head and shoulders in the right when it ruled that “circumcising babies on religious grounds amounts to grievous bodily harm” (“Circumcision is assault, court rules,” Japan Times, June 29, 2012). One might challenge the “grievousness” of it, but the accusation of assault is foolproof. Naturally, domestic and international pressure (“German circumcision ban slammed,” Japan Times, July 11, 2012) forced the German parliament to step in for the sake of the religious lobby (“German panel backs circumcision,” Japan Times, August 25, 2012, “Germany OKs law on circumcision,” Japan Times, December 14, 2012).
FGM is terrible and easily conjures more outrage than male genital mutilation. But the depravity of it means that people can’t see the forest for the trees. Outlawing genital mutilation means outlawing all of it, and anti-FGM workers would only gain credibility if they come out equally against male genital mutilation as well. Meanwhile, doctors, nurses, teachers, counsellors, rabbis, and parents involved in lining up young boys as sacrifices should themselves all be lined up for long prison sentences.
Published on Sunday, September 8, 2013 as "Circumcision should be outlawed."
I'm happy because this is the tenth letter on this topic I have submitted to a newspaper in my efforts to broadcast this perspective. But the letters are consistently passed over. Once, ten years ago, the message was published. But since then all my efforts were unsuccessful, leading me to think the papers made a conscious editorial decision not to print these opinions on this topic.