When discussing the issue of genital mutilation, most people assume that you are discussing female genital mutilation.  Images of men holding down a girl and carving up her genitals instantly pops into mind.  It’s considered a barbaric practice and rightly so by many people, with massive amounts of resources being used to combat the practice.  If however, you mention the practice of male genital mutilation, you will often get either a puzzled look, or be told “you’re sexist.”  If we all have equal rights, then surely the practice of removing any part, of anyone’s genitals should be viewed as both equally wrong, even if one in some cases may be worse than the other.  From a purely ethical point, it is equally barbaric to mutilate a boy’s penis, as a girl’s vagina.

It is an inexcusable state of affairs that the majority of those with mutilated genitals are male and yet most of the resources are aimed at preventing the female variety.  For example in 2014 a study was done that half a million boysin South Africa were hospitalized due to circumcision, with some of them dying.  In the United States, circumcision is the most common medical procedure performed with one occurring approximately every fifty seconds, with the overwhelming majority performed right after birth.

“Who cares, it’s just some skin!”  This perhaps is the most common argument used to make mgm seem insignificant.  However, it is well documented the male foreskin is the most sensitive part of his body, with 10-20,000 nerve endings in it.  It provides protection from outside irritants, as enhancing sexual pleasure for him and his partner when he becomes active.  At birth, it is fused to the head, like a fingernail.  If you’ve ever lost a nail, it is incredibly painful.  Now, amplify that pain and take away your ability to understand why your in pain, and that is circumcision.  In some cases, the child goes silent because of pain and blood loss.

There are other complications that arise beside loss of function when circumcision is performed.  For example, men who are circumcised have higher rates of erectile dysfunction.  In addition, circumcision has been shown to lead to difficulties in breastfeeding, leading to a weakened immune system, as well as bonding between the child and his mother.  Like many forms of fgm, mgm also leads to other health and psychological problems.

“It’s cleaner!” Insert “Prevents this disease.” “He could be bullied!”  “My religious beliefs mandate it.”  “It’s what our family does.”  “My child, my choice!”  Every one of these arguments are used to try and justify circumcision, and every one of them has been debunked.  If a girl can be taught to keep herself clean “down there,” then so can a boy, plus there’s the added benefit of him not getting a rather nasty when he’s in a diaper, if left intact.  In regards to disease prevention, condoms do a much better job, and he’s more likely to use one if left intact.  Most men around the world are intact, and in the US circumcision rates are falling, so you don’t have to worry about him being bullied.  As for the other arguments, they can be debunked using the following: Your rights as a parent, as well as your religious rights, and family customs end where your child’s rights begin.

Human rights aren’t determined by your sex, race, religious beliefs, age, etc.  Mutilating any child’s genitals makes you a scumbag, period, end of story.

So as Penn Jillette puts it, “Put down the knife, step away from the baby!”

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Dominic Schmid
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