Dutch Medical Association takes a stand against forced male circumcisionSunday 30th May 2010
The Royal Dutch Medical Association (the KNMG) has published a ground breaking position paper on non therapeutic male child circumcision which calls for a "powerful policy of deterrence", if not an outright ban.
The paper states that non therapeutic circumcision is an infringement of a child's rights to bodily integrity and personal autonomy, that its risks are underplayed, and that to reject all forms of forced female genital cutting while allowing forced male genital cutting is ethically inconsistent.
Pages 10-12 of the paper (available here) contain a useful analysis of some of the flawed distinctions made between female genital mutilation and non therapeutic male circumcision.
In relation to the risks of the latter KNMG states that, "there is growing concern regarding complications, both minor and serious, which can occur as a result of circumcising a child." It highlights the most common as bleeding, infection, meatal stenosis (urethral stricture) and panic attacks and references also the risk of death. In relation to long term sexual damage, the paper points out that the foreskin is an important erotogenic structure, and that the history of its removal is, "rooted in the desire to control male sexuality".
The paper takes a strong stance against the idea of child circumcision as a prophylactic, saying, "There is no convincing evidence that circumcision is useful or necessary in terms of prevention or hygiene", and, "Insofar as there are medical benefits, such as a possibly reduced risk of HIV infection, it is reasonable to put off circumcision until the age at which such a risk is relevant and the boy himself can decide about the intervention, or can opt for any available alternatives."
The position of the KNMG is jointly endorsed by: The Netherlands Society of General Practitioners, The Netherlands Society of Youth Healthcare Physicians, The Netherlands Association of Paediatric Surgeons, The Netherlands Association of Plastic Surgeons,The Netherlands Association for Paediatric Medicine, The Netherlands Urology Association, and The Netherlands Surgeonsí Association.
NORM-UK warmly welcomes this ethical and evidence-based approach to male circumcision. We hope that other medical associations will follow the Dutch lead.