For most of Western history, circumcision was seen as a barbaric practice. However, in the 19th century it found new popularity because physicians believed it “cured” a variety of ailments including masturbatory “self abuse.” Of course, as any circumcised male knows it doesn’t stop you from masturbating.

Regardless, this medical “advice” became a cultural hit and is still widely practiced for non-religious reasons, especially in the United States.

1. Circumcision is genital mutilation. Period.

The-Original-Orange-Handled-Scissors-8

Circumcision is a human rights violation. Cutting or burning off part of a child’s genitalia (male or female) is barbaric, regardless of how common or socially acceptable the practice may be to the host culture. That said, circumcision should be permitted to those old enough to consent by law, but not forced upon any child. Children are not old enough to understand or consent to irreversible bodily mutilation.

In the West, if parents performed female circumcision, or if they mutilated any other part of their child’s body, they’d rightly be thrown into prison for child abuse. Those acts are rightly considered evil, so why isn’t circumcision? Simple: cultural and religious biases. Western law does not permit the physical disfigurement of a child for any other reason, but circumcision has maintained a sacred cow status.

But what about the right of the parents to follow their religion? I ask, do these parents have the right to drag adulterers into the street and stone them to death? Are Muslims allowed to literally flog those who engage in premarital sex? Religious rights do not usurp another’s human rights, including those of a child.

2. Claims of HIV protection are exaggerated

People Infected With HIV

A common counter-argument is that circumcision helps protect against HIV. What circumcision advocates fail to acknowledge is that circumcised men still do, in fact, contract HIV. Promoting circumcision as an alternative to condoms is disingenuous and gives a false sense of security.

Proper condom use better prevents against HIV, and does not require unconsented bodily mutilation of a child. Put simply, you are not safe simply because you are circumcised. You must still use safe sex practices to avoid infection, circumcised or not.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) relies heavily on the HIV argument, and they have data that suggest circumcision helps prevent the spread of HIV during normal, heterosexual intercourse. However, they’ve come under increased scrutiny from international physicians who claim the AAP has a cultural bias.

Two major critiques were published in leading international journals, one in the Journal of Medical Ethics, and a second in the AAP’s very own Pediatrics. The World Health Organization recommended voluntary circumcision to poverty-stricken African countries with prevalence of HIV. Of course, an HIV epidemic in a remote and poverty stricken part of Africa has little bearing in Everytown, USA, where HIV is “overwhelmingly the province of homosexual men, injectable drug users, and the people who sleep with them.” They’re basically using an HIV problem a world away to rationalize genital mutilation in the United States.

Looking at world maps of circumcision prevalence and HIV prevalence by country, we can clearly see there is no correlation between countries that do not circumcise and HIV prevalence. HIV prevalence is dependent on culture, not circumcision. Europe, South America, and Asia rarely practice circumcision and do not suffer from an HIV epidemic.

Conversely, there are several African countries that have both a high proportion of circumcised males, and still suffer from high HIV prevalence. Circumcision advocates will rarely point these discrepancies out. The AAP should stop using a poverty and cultural problem in Africa to justify a barbaric and evil practice in the United States.

Circumcision prevalence by country. Data source: World Health Organization (2007)

Adult HIV prevalence by country. Data source: UNAIDS (2007)

3. Unnecessary and catastrophic injuries

sd

According to American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision, catastrophic injuries are “infrequent,” but do occur.  Complications have included “glans or penile amputation, transmission of herpes simplex after mouth-to-penis contact by a mohel (Jewish ritual circumcisers) after circumcision, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection, urethral cutaneous fistula, glans ischemia, and death.”

One notable story is that of David Reimer, whose penis was accidentally destroyed during a routine circumcision. Dr. John Money, a physician who theorized that gender roles are mutable early in a child’s life, reassigned David as a female. However, his theory failed spectacularly, and David later committed suicide.

4. Circumcision takes away a person’s religious rights

Religious awareness 2014

A child should not be forced to permanently bear religious or cult symbols, especially when they may not identify with it as an adult. Many will not follow their parent’s religion into adulthood, and thus should not be forced to bear their guardian’s religious symbols on the most private areas of their bodies. However, once of consensual age a man should be allowed to do with his body as he pleases.

Does circumcision reduce sexual pleasure?

Some might be wondering why I did not include this as a fifth point. There are numerous studies that contradict each other regarding circumcision and male sexual satisfaction. Because of this, it is difficult to conclude one way or another. This point is still hotly debated. We know the foreskin contains millions of nerve endings, so it seems probable that removing those nerves would have some sort of effect.

In any case, it is a barbaric practice that should be eliminated in civilized society.

Read More: The Benefits Of Not Masturbating