A July 23 article, “Britain Toughens Laws on Genital Mutilation,” reported on Britain’s tougher new female genital cutting laws. Unfortunately, British children are not protected from male genital cutting, euphemistically called circumcision. Both procedures remove anatomically equivalent tissue.
Although some forms of female genital cutting are more severe, the Type Ia procedure of female genital cutting is one of the most prevalent. It is illegal for British (or American) parents to authorize this procedure for female children but not for male children. Cultural blinders allow us to overlook the blatant sexism and hypocrisy of these laws.
Fortunately, other countries are making progress in protecting genital integrity rights. In 2012, a German court ruled that a child’s right to bodily integrity supersedes parental rights. Last year, the Council of Europe passed a recommendation endorsing a child’s right to physical integrity and a resolution opposing several practices, including male circumcision. Scandinavian nations are making steady progress in educating their citizens about the harm. The Royal Dutch Medical Society has a policy that recommends against the procedure.
There is no compelling medical reason to circumcise a male infant. Only he should make that choice. Most of the world’s males are genitally intact and very few of them choose elective circumcision later in life.
All children, regardless of gender, culture or parental religion, have a fundamental right to all of their healthy, functional body parts.