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I read with horror the Amit R. Paley report in both The Japan Times and The Daily Yomiuri English-language dailies here (December 31, 2008) about female circumcision among Iraqi Kurdish girls. Female circumcision/genital mutilation is not a new story, but it never ceases to make us cringe because it strikes our sensibilities directly in a most private area. Unfortunately, the same is not true of male genital mutilation, which is so common and accepted that it garners no reaction. It is even sanctioned.
The social and religious bases for male circumcision are neither here nor there, and the professed medical reasons for it are unconvincing almost to the point of negligibility. Why circumcise males as a matter of course? I suggest criminalizing all genital mutilation and treating the practice and counseling of male circumcision equally with other child abuse crimes. Prosecute it vigorously among parents, doctors, rabbis, etc. to make the point. The argument that removal of the foreskin does not rob males of sexual pleasure and fulfillment the way that removal of the labia and parts, or all of the clitoris does females is hardly grounds to sanction it. The point is one of genital mutilation which male circumcision certainly is. A full and proper perspective on human rights must encompass a belief in and commitment to genital integrity.