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Saturday, May 19, 2007



by Rio Cruz [1]

I never saw anything wrong with it either until I witnessed my own son being circumcised. The doctor assured me it was a simple little snip of extra skin that had no function and that really didn't hurt the infant. "You want him to look like you, don't you?" Well, since I really hadn't thought much about it, and since I, too, had gone under the knife at birth, I said: "Sure. I guess so. Why not?"

He did not answer the "Why not?" but it was soon apparent to me. My newborn son was taken from his mother's warm, nourishing breast and placed naked on a cold, plastic board called a circumstraint. His little legs were spread-eagled and strapped down with Velcro bands and his arms were strapped to his sides. He immediately protested and began to cry. The doctor draped a thin cloth with a hole in the centre over his shivering body and drew his little penis through the hole.

The doctor washed my baby's penis with an antiseptic solution. He took a pair of steel haemostats and, holding the penis in one hand, inserted the tip of the haemostat into the opening of the foreskin and began pushing it between the foreskin and the glans, ripping the two structures apart. The foreskin and glans were tightly fused together by the normal balanopreputial membrane called the synechia, similar to the membrane that attaches the fingernail to the finger. It's the body's way, in part, of protecting against harmful bacteria.

My baby was shrieking now, his protest going from a simple cry to what sounded like screams of sheer terror. His body was rigid, contorted as he strained against the straps and the pain. If the circumstraint had not been bolted down, it and my child would have crashed to the floor. Every instinct I had told me this was not right, that I should be protecting my son instead of acquiescing to the barbaric spectacle before me. But I am a "civilized man". I have been socialized to accept what the doctor is doing. It's the right thing to do. Right?

The foreskin did not easily give up its hold on my son's glans. The doctor continued to rip the skin with the haemostat. My son was shaking, tossing his head from side to side, his fists and eyes were clenched, sweat beaded on his brow.

The doctor finally got the glans and foreskin separated, then clamped the foreskin tight with another haemostat and cut the skin vertically with scissors. The wound was bleeding profusely. He tried to insert a steel cone into the tissue but had to force it because the incision was too short. My son stopped screaming. His eyes were glazed and rolled back. He appeared to be sleeping, but was really in a state of complete shock.

The doctor put a large metal clamp around the bleeding foreskin, the cone supposedly to protect the glans, and he proceeded to crush the nerves, the blood vessels and tissue of the foreskin with the clamp. He took a knife and sliced around the clamp, letting the foreskin drop onto the cloth. My son lay motionless on the board, completely dissociated into some other more hospitable space. The doctor looked at me and winked. He left the room. A nurse gave my son back to his mother.

[1] Genital mutilation American style. Fathering magazine 1998.

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While some boys may clamor for tuli,

  • They are in no position to know what they are losing. Their consent cannot be considered informed.
  • The peer pressure on them amounts to coercion. Their consent cannot be considered voluntary.

The ethics of a doctor performing that or any cosmetic operation at a child's request are highly debatable. A doctor who did so in almost any other country would certainly be struck off.

Not A Birth Defect!

Not A Birth Defect!

Support Group for Uncircumcised Men in the Philippines

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