Posts Tagged ‘circumcision’

Circumcision and HIV

Friday, August 17th, 2012 | Religion & Politics, Science

I’m a big fan of the Gates Foundation, they do a lot of fantastic research and are working to wipe out a lot of diseases that are prevalent in the third world, such as malaria. Plus, it was co-founded by Bill Gates, who I am a big admirer of.

However, one thing that has always bugged me is their pushing of woo in one particular area – using circumcision to prevent the transmission of HIV. They even have a page about it on their website.

It doesn’t work though. Or, at least, we should say that there is insufficient evidence to suggest that it does work. This was the finding of a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Pooled analyses of available observational studies of MSM revealed insufficient evidence that male circumcision protects against HIV infection or other STIs.

Ok, fine, you could argue, but there are some studies that suggest otherwise. IE, if you cherry pick your studies and ignore the meta-analysis, you can get the result you want. But interestingly, there was a study in 2009 by Maria J Wawer, and here is what they concluded.

Circumcision of HIV-infected men did not reduce HIV transmission to female partners over 24 months; longer-term effects could not be assessed. Condom use after male circumcision is essential for HIV prevention.

Why is this study so key to the debate? Because of its funder – the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Their own study concluded that circumcision does not stop HIV. So why are they still pushing it?

No, I only sexually assaulted her…

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

When Catherine Bennett dared to speak out about MGM (male genital mutilation), there was soon a strong reaction from the right wing feminists condemning the comparison between MGM and FGM (female genital mutilation), pointing out that FGM is worse. The Guardian rounded up some reactions too.

The most severe forms of FGM are indeed far worse than MGM. But what I don’t understand, is how FGM being worse, that is then an argument for the legalisation of MGM. For example, I’ve never seen someone stand up in court and say “Rape? No, I only sexually assaulted her, so it’s fine.”

Obviously, it isn’t, and we wouldn’t buy that for a second.

It’s absolutely right that FGM is very illegal in the UK – so illegal that just getting on a plane to go to a different country to get it done is in itself illegal. Our laws are spot on here, no child should ever be subjected to FGM.

But nor should a male child be irreversibly mutilated into his parents religion for no either. Saying “it’s not as bad as FGM” is no defence when it comes to cutting off the end of a child’s genitals.”

Here is what Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to say on the matter…

The problem with FGM

Sunday, August 5th, 2012 | Religion & Politics

Over the past decade, the term female circumcision has been replaced by the term FGM – female genital mutilation.

It’s almost certainly a more accurate term. FGM is entirely unpalatable, the cutting out of a young girl’s genitals (you could say “before she is too young to consent” but that would be meaningless as almost nobody would ever give their consent for such an act, certainly nobody in the right state of mind) no for no reason than depriving her of one of the most basic human pleasures is a beyond-abominable act.

But such a change, without it’s male counterpart, has one drawback.

At the launch of Pro Life Through Pro Choice campaign, a pro choice group which advocated such a stance was also pro life, Norm innocently used the term “female circumcision”, only to be hounded for the rest of the meeting for having the nerve to accidentally use what some people in the room considered the wrong term.

But, when we used the term male circumcision, no such outcry was heard. Even though we now know such a procedure is just as unjustified as its female equivalent, the voices remain oddly silent.

This is a real problem because it creates a double standard – female circumcision gets upgraded to FGM because it’s so heinous, yet male circumcision is allowed to keep its name because it isn’t as wrong. That, as far as I can see, is the only message you can take away from such a change.

It creates at atmosphere where circumcision remains an acceptable term because we have a whole different term of something that is wrong. This gives the term circumcision a free pass – and it shouldn’t have one. It’s a betrayal of the young boys in our society to grant it one.

That isn’t to say that we should rename FGM back – we could simply rename its male equivalent to male gentile mutilation. But either way, we shouldn’t grant any more credence to the idea that it is more acceptable to mutilate a boy’s genitals, than it is a girls.

EDIT: Since originally penning this article, a friend pointed me to a news story on The Guardian in which some campaigners were quite open about the fact that thought millions of males should suffer in case it jeopardised their own position in some unknown way.