Circumcision - Male Genital Mutilation

The History of Circumcision - Male Genital Mutilation


From the website of The 1911 Encyclopaedia Love to Know

CIRCUMCISION (Lat. circum, round, and caedere, to cut), the cutting off of the foreskin. This surgical operation, which is commonly prescribed for purely medical reasons, is also art initiation or religious ceremony among Jews and Mahommedans, and is a widespread institution in many Semitic races. It remains, with Jews, a necessary preliminary to the admission of proselytes, except in some Reformed communities. The origin of the rite among the Jews is in Genesis (xvii.) placed in the age of Abraham, and at all events it must have been very ancient, for flint stones were used in the operation (Exodus iv. 25; - Joshua v.2). The narrative in Joshua implies that the custom was introduced by him, not that it had merely been in abeyance in the Wilderness. At Gilgal he rolled away the reproach of the Egyptians by circumcising the people.

This obviously means that whereas the Egyptians practised circumcision the Jews in the land of the Pharaohs did not, and hence were regarded with contempt. It was an old theory (Herodotus ii. 36) that circumcision originated in Egypt; at all events it was practised in that country in ancient times (Ebers, Egypt en und die Bucker IvIosis, i. 278-284), and the same is true at the present day. But it is not generally thought probable that the Hebrews derived the rite directly from the Egyptians. As Driver puts it (Genesis, p. 190): it. is possible that, ~ts Dillmann and Nowack suppose, the peoples of N. Africa and Asia who practised the rite adopted it from the Egyptians, but it appears in so many parts of the world that it must at any rate in these cases have originated independently. In another biblical narrative (Exodus iv. 25) Moses is subject to the divine anger because he had not made himself a bridegroom of blood, that is, had not been circumcised before his marriage.

The rite of circumcision was practised by all the inhabitants of Palestine with the exception of the Philistines. It was an ancient custom among the Arabs, being presupposed in the Koran. The only important Semitic peoples who most probably did not follow the rite were the Babylonians and Assyrians (Sayce, Babyl. and Assyrians, p.47). Modern investigations have brought to light many instances of the prevalence of circumcision in various parts of the world. These facts are collected by Andre and Ploss, and go to prove that the rite is not only spread through the Mahommedan world (Turks, Persians, Arabs, &~.),but also is practised by the Christian Abyssinians and the Copts, as well as in central Australia and in America. In central Australia (Spencer and Gillen, pp. 212-386) circumcision with a stone knife must be undergone by every youth before he is reckoned a full member of the tribe or is permitted to enter on the married state. In other parts, too (e.g. Loango), no uncircumcised man may marry.

Circumcision was known. to the Aztecs (Bancroft, Native Races, vol. iii.), and is still practised by the Caribs of the Orinoco and the Tacunas of the Amazon. The method and period of the operation vary in important particulars. Among the Jews it is performed in infancy, when the male child is eight days old. The child is named at the same time, and the ceremony is elaborate. The child is carried in to the godfather (sandek, a hebraized form of the Gr. ci5vreevos, godfather, post-class.), who places the child on a cushion, which he holds on his knees throughout the ceremony. The operator (mohel) uses a steel knife, and pronounces various benedictions before and after the rite is performed (see S. Singer, Authorized Daily Prayer Book, pp. 304-307; an excellent account of the domestic festivities and spiritual joys associated with the ceremony among medieval and modern Jews may be read in S. Schechters Studies in Judaism, first series, pp.351 seq.). Some tribes in South America and elsewhere are said to perform the rite on the eighth day, like the Jews. The Mazequas do it between the first and second months. Among the Bedouins the rite is performed on children of three years, amid dances and the selection of brides (Doughty, Arabia Deserta, i. 340); among the Somalis the age is seven (Reiniscb, Somalisprache, p. 110). But for the most part the tribes who perform the rite carry it out at the age of puberty, Many facts bearing on this point are given by B. Stade in Zeitschrift fur die altiest. Wissenschaft, vi. (1886) pp. 132 seq.

The significance of the rite of circumcision has been much disputed. Some see in it a tribal badge. If this be the true origin of circumcision, it must go back to the time when men went about naked. Mutilations (tattooing, removal of teeth and so forth) were tribal marks, being partly sacrifices and partly means of recognition (see MUTILATION). Such initiatory rites were often frightful ordeals, in which the neophytes courage was severely tested (Robertson Smith, Religion of the Semites, p. 310). Some regard circumcision as a substitute for far more serious rites, including even human sacrifice. Utilitarian explanations have also been suggested. Sir R. Burton (Memoirs Anthrop. Soc. ~. 318) held that it was introduced to promote fertility, and the claims of cleanliness have been put forward (following Philos example, see ed. Mangey, i. 210). Most probably, however, circumcision (which in many tribes is performed on both sexes) was connected with marriage, and was a preparation for connubium. It was in Robertson Smiths words originally a preliminary to marriage, and so a ceremony of introduction to the full prerogative of manhood, the transference to infancy among the Jews being a later change. On this view, the decisive Biblical reference would be the Exodus passage (iv. 25), in which Moses is represented as being in danger of his life because he had neglected the proper preliminary to marriage. In Genesis, on the other hand, circumcision is an external sign of Gods covenant with Israel, and later Judaism now regards it in this symbolical sense. Barton (Semitic Origins, p. 100) declares that the circumstances under which it is performed in Arabia point to the origin of circumcision as a sacrifice to the goddess of fertility, by which the child was placed under her protection and its reproductive powers consecrated to her service. But Barton admits that initiation to the connubium was the primitive origin of the rite.

Pediatricians turn away from circumcision

The United States is the only country that routinely circumcises baby boys for non-religious reasons

CNN, U.S.A.
March 1, 1999

ATLANTA (CNN) -- American pediatricians are turning away from the practice of routine circumcision, concluding that doctors have no good medical reason to perform the procedure.

The United States is the only country in the world that routinely removes the foreskins of infant boys. Critics of circumcision got additional ammunition Monday from the American Academy of Pediatrics, a leading medical organization.

The academy concluded the benefits "are not compelling enough" for circumcision to be routinely administered.

baby screaming in pain

A newborn winces in pain after a circumcision

Monday's statement, published in the March edition of the journal Pediatrics, was the academy's first in 10 years on the practice. But in recent years, medical societies in Canada, Britain and Australia have come out in opposition to routine circumcision.

Critics have long contended that removing the foreskin from the penis is traumatic, medically unnecessary and may reduce sexual pleasure later in life. As one critic, Dr. George Denniston, put it: "Who are we to question mother nature?"

Canadian researchers, whose study was published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, studied the heart rates and crying patterns of babies during different stages of circumcision.

In fact, in the study they found the babies suffered so much trauma that they stopped the study part way through.

The results were so compelling that they took the unusual step of stopping the study before it was scheduled to end rather than subjecting any Read More ..bies to circumcision.

One baby stopped breathing for 25 seconds from the trauma of having part of his foreskin severed.  Read More ..

Toronto Sun logo

Male Circumcision, the unkindest cut

By Dr. Gifford Jones

Special to C-Health

Read More ..

Baby Died from Herpes Transmitted by Rabbi During Ritual Genital Mutilation

ABC News USA - Spanking children Leads to aggression

Baby Dies of Herpes in Ritual Circumcision By Orthodox Jews

ABC News, U.S.A., by Susan Donaldson James, March 12, 2012

New York City is investigating the death last September of a baby who contracted herpes after a "ritual circumcision with oral suction," in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish ceremony known in Hebrew as metzitzah b'peh.

The district attorney's office in Kings County Brooklyn is investigating the death of the 2-week-old baby at Maimonides Hospital, but would not disclose the name of the mohel or whether there would be a prosecution.

The 5,000-year-old religious practice is seen primarily in ultra-Orthodox and some orthodox communities and has caused an alarm among city health officials. In 2003 and 2004, three babies, including a set of twins, were infected with Type 1 herpes; the cases were linked to circumcision, and one boy died.

The mohel who performed the procedures, Yitzchok Fischer, was later banned from doing circumcisions, according to The New York Times. It is not known if he was involved in this recent death.

"It's certainly not something any of us recommend in the modern infection-control era," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University.

"This is a ritual of historic Abraham that's come down through the ages, and now it has met modern science," he said. "It was never a good idea, and there is a better way to do this." (The modern Jewish community uses a sterile aspiration device to clean the wound in a circumcision.)

In the 2004 death and the more recent one, a mohel infected the penile wounds with Type 1 herpes I (HSV-1), which affects the mouth and throat. It is different from Type 2 or genital herpes (HSV-2), which is a sexually transmitted disease and can cause deadly infections when a newborn passes through an infected birth canal.

Neonatal herpes is "almost always" a fatal infection, according to Schaffner. "It's a bad virus. [Infants] have no immunity and so it's a very serious illness. Now we have another death -- an unnecessary, incredibly tragic death."

Male Genital Mutilation (MGM) Circumcision - Baby Boy Botched

Circumcision Botched - Canadian Press

Circumcision Botched by Jewish Father Results in Conviction for Aggravated Assault

The Canadian Press
Dec. 22, 2011

VANCOUVER - A B.C. man who performed a botched circumcision on his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home has lost an appeal of his conviction and been found guilty of a more serious charge.

The B.C. Court of Appeal has stayed the man's conviction for criminal negligence causing bodily harm and convicted him of aggravated assault.

Court heard the boy was born premature at only 2.5 pounds and could not be circumcised at the time, nor did his parents request it.

South Korean Doctors

Male circumcision based on myths and misinformation

Peak age of circumcision of males in Korea is 12 years old! Read More ..

Urinary Tract Infection Rates for Both Circumcised and Non-Circumcised Baby Boys Under 1 Year Old

UTIs are rare

Canadian Paediatric Society - Circumcision statement

"Of every 1,000 boys who are circumcised 2 will be admitted to hospital for a urinary tract infection (UTI) before they are one year old."

"Of every 1,000 boys who are not circumcised 7 will be admitted to hospital for a UTI before they are one year old. "

Société canadienne de pédiatrie - circoncis statement

Sur 1 000 garçons circoncis 2 seront hospitalisés en raison d'une infection urinaire avant l'âge d'un an.

Sur 1 000 garçons non circoncis 7 seront hospitalisés par suite d'une infection urinaire avant l'âge d'un an.


CanadianCRC editor:
Anyone who states that urinary tract infections are common among newborn baby boys, and therefore advocates that the genital mutilation of boys ( male circumcision) will stop urinary tract infections, is a liar or misinformed.

Besides, urinary tract infections are entirely treatable.