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Know the facts before infant circumcision

“We found a baby strapped spread-eagle to a plastic board, on a counter top across the room. He was struggling against his restraints — tugging, whimpering, and then crying helplessly . . . his foreskin pinched and crushed as the doctor attached the clamp to his penis.

BY PHYLLIS MBANJE

The shriek intensified when the doctor inserted an instrument between the foreskin and the glans [head of the penis], tearing the two structures apart. The baby started shaking his head back and forth — the only part of his body free to move — as the doctor used another clamp to crush the foreskin lengthwise, which he then cut.

This made the opening of the foreskin large enough to insert a circumcision instrument, the device used to protect the glans from being severed during the surgery. The baby began to gasp and choke, breathless from his shrill continuous screams. . . . During the next stage of the surgery, the doctor crushed the foreskin against the circumcision instrument and then, finally, amputated it. The baby was limp, exhausted, spent.”

This shocking observation was made by Marilyn Milos, a medical student who witnessed a circumcision during her training in a nursing school in Europe a few years ago. She was part of some students that were conducting research on the infant’s response to pain during circumcision.

Most surgeons do not recommend the use of anaesthesia in infants, for fear of adverse after effects.

It is because of scenarios like the one described by Milos that the subject of infant circumcision has not been fully embraced in most countries, including Zimbabwe.

Although the procedure was adopted in Zimbabwe in 2009, not many people have taken their babies to have them circumcised.
It has mainly remained a preserve of the Shangani tribe of the Lowveld, where they are initiated into adulthood through circumcision.

Reports that the Health ministry would make neonatal circumcision mandatory has also raised serious concerns.

But National Male Circumcision Coordinator in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, Sinokuthemba Xaba said male circumcision in Zimbabwe remained a voluntary procedure for adult males, neonates and infants.

“Those who are below 18 years have to have a consent form that is signed by a parent or legal guardian to allow them to go through with the procedure,” said Xaba. “In this regard, the programme remains voluntary and when the Health ministry rolls out Early Infant Male Circumcision, it will still be voluntary, where the parent volunteers and signs the consent form to allow the male child to be circumcised.”

Xaba said there was a study that was being done to ascertain the safety of infant circumcision.

“It is focusing on the safety, feasibility and acceptability of early infant male circumcision,” said Xaba.

“The programme will only be availed and rolled out, based on the findings of this study. Therefore, when it is available, it will be a safe procedure for the infants.”

Last week most members of the public were sceptical of neonatal circumcision. While others openly shot down the method saying it was against the rights of a child to perform a procedure which might have irreversible damage.

Some health experts say the benefits of male circumcision included improved hygiene — it helps to prevent cancer of the penis and reduces chances of contracting sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV and Aids.

Douglas Jekero, a primary school teacher in Harare’s Kuwadzana High density suburb said it was inhuman to “cut” up little babies.
“For me this exercise should be a decision which an individual makes. It is too gory to even consider. What if something goes wrong and that child is maimed? Who will take responsibility for that?” he questioned.

However, some supported the idea.

“The older you get the more you become more fearful, so it is better to do it when you are just a baby,” said a lower six pupil from Allan Wilson, James Nhakayedu.

Some women said child circumcision was an opportunity to take control of their children’s destiny and shape it into a brighter future.
“It is all for their benefit, so I do not see where the issue of rights is coming from,” said Memory Mhishi, a shop assistant in a clothing boutique along First street.

But David Wilson, an American, has been campaigning against infant circumcision for the past 20 years, insisting that it violated children’s rights.

Wilson has formed an organisation called Stop Infant Circumcision Society.

The society has held many protest marches with the most memorable being when members of his society marched to the White House wearing blood stained clothes.

Another article published in the international medical journal, The Lancet reported that the effect of infant circumcision pain was irreversible in most cases.

In their report which received much publicity, the researchers noted that neonatal circumcision may induce long-lasting changes in infant pain behaviour because of alterations in the infant’s central neural processing of painful stimuli.

Other negatives of neonatal circumcision include bleeding, wound infection, scarring, and complications of general and local anaesthesia.

Poor surgical skills have led to cases of traumatic injury to the male organ or death.

Last month, people looking to make a quick buck, allegedly “hijacked” the traditional male circumcision rituals that killed 36 boys over nine days in South Africa.

“Over the years, this century-old culture has been slowly corrupted and eroded to give way to commercial interests,” South Africa’s Health minister, Aaron Motsoaledi told MPs during a debate about the alarming number of deaths among boys.

Reports say at least 36 young boys died from hypothermia and haemorrhaging over a period of nine days during the annual winter school recesses, from May 7 to July 7, when many boys undergo circumcision to mark the passage into manhood.

At least 28 boys have died at registered initiation schools in the Mpumalanga province during the circumcision season.

8 Responses to Know the facts before infant circumcision

  1. Ronald Goldman, Ph.D. June 23, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    Studies show that circumcision causes significant pain and trauma, behavioral and neurological changes in infants, potential parental stress from persistent crying (colic) of infants, disrupted bonding between parent and child, and risk of surgical complications. Other consequences of circumcision include loss of a natural, healthy, functioning body part, reduced sexual pleasure, potential psychological problems, and unknown negative effects that have not been studied.

    Some circumcised men resent that they are circumcised. Sexual anxieties, reduced emotional expression, low self-esteem, avoidance of intimacy, and depression are also reported. Some doctors refuse to perform circumcisions because of ethical reasons. Relying on presumed authorities (e.g., American Academy of Pediatrics or doctors who echo AAP views) is not sufficient because of personal, religious, financial, and political conflicts of interest. For more information see http://www.circumcision.org.

  2. Hugh7 June 24, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    Another good reason not to circumcise babies is that no study has shown any effect of circumcising babies on HIV transmission. The only studies have been on paid adult volunteers for circumcision, who are not a random sample of the population.

    In 10 out of 18 countries for which USAID has figures, more of the CIRCUMCISED men have HIV than the non-circumcised. In Zimbabwe, the same result was found twice, before and after a circumcision campaign. The rate went down in all men, suggesting the safe-sex education part of the campaign did some good, but the ratio between circumcised and intact men did not change, suggesting circumcision itself makes no difference.

    One study started to show that circumcising men INCREASES the risk to women – who are already at much greater risk – but that was cut short before the finding could be confirmed.

  3. Ron Low June 24, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    We have no business altering the genitals of children. Circumcision changes sex dramatically. Informed adults can decide for themselves whether to give up any pleasure parts.

  4. Frederick Rhodes June 24, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    If you allow your sons to become circumcised as infants, the subversive racial benefits of Infant circumcision include eugenics/genocide on the sons of uneducated men, cutting off too much shaft skin and all the nerves in the frenulum delta/G spot causing tight painful erections, scrotum hairs get pulled up on to the shaft skin, your child’s glans may split open bleed and scar at the urethra(meatal sternosis), all as your son goes through puberty. This will lead to physical and psychological dysfunctions that won’t show up until after puberty, and he won’t know that it was caused on purpose because his friends were cut differently and feel he is deformed and commit suicide. Africans, Arabs, and Gentiles are considered inferior races for the people God chose to perform circumcision in exchange for the promised land, and they have learned how to use circumcision as a weapon of racial, religious and ethnic cleancing, Tha’s how they did it to us boys here in the USA. Don’t be fooled, use proper education on hygiene, safety, care while developing of your sons and daughters prepuces instead of prepuce excision sacrificings.

  5. David J. Llewellyn June 28, 2013 at 6:10 am #

    Here in the U,S. every day infants become the victims of botched circumcisions. I know. Most of my legal practice is made up of representing the victims. The U.S. started doing circumcisions “to prevent masturbatioin” in the 19th century. Circumcision has no place in modern medicine. ABC (abstinence, being faithful, and/or condoms) are much more effective at halting HIV transmission than circumcision ever will be. Beware of Americans “bearing gifts.”

  6. ZVENYIKA June 30, 2013 at 12:32 pm #

    i would never send my son to be circumcised. male genital mutilation must be banned.

  7. Marilyn Milos, RN July 6, 2013 at 5:55 pm #

    “This shocking observation was made by Marilyn Milos, a medical student who witnessed a circumcision during her training in a nursing school in Europe a few years ago. She was part of some students that were conducting research on the infant’s response to pain during circumcision.”

    Just to clarify, I was in nursing school in Marin County, California, in May of 1979 when I witnessed that circumcision. It was while I watched the baby being tortured and mutilated that I realized my doctor, who told me “Circumcision doesn’t hurt, just takes a minute, and will protect your son for the rest of his life,” had lied to me. In that moment, I realized what had happened to my precious babies behind closed doors. And, as I burst into tears, the doctor said, “There is no medical reason for doing this.” That experience literally changed the course of my life, which I’ve dedicated to bringing an end to this anachronistic blood ritual that has no place in civilized society! :”If we are ever to have real peace, we must begin with the children.”

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