- Hygienic and aesthetic. The external female genitalia are considered dirty and “unsightly” and should be flat, rigid and dry;
- Sociological. Identification with the cultural traditions, as a rite of passage of girls into womanhood, and for the maintenance of social cohesion;
- Psychological. Reduction of sensitive tissue and thus to curb sexual pleasure in order to maintain chastity and virginity, to guarantee women’s fidelity, and even to increase male sexual pleasure;
- Myths and false beliefs. To enhance fertility and promote child survival; and
- Religious. FGM/C has been practiced in a range of communities with different religions: Christian, Muslim and animist. Muslim communities often have the false belief that FGM/C is related to teachings of the Islamic law
The article first referenced above(The horrors of) estimates that about four girls a minute are mutilated worldwide. One reason for it is to reduce or eliminate the feelings of sexual arousal so as to avoid the possibility of premarital sexual activity. In this way the girl is kept “pure” until after marriage. Other reasons given for this practice can be found here.
Male genital mutilation has been a common practice even among the nonreligious growing to around ninety percent in the United States by the 1970s. (For the history of this practice go here) Since it is thought by many that the removal of the foreskin does little to lessen the sensitivity and arousal capability of the male it has been labeled exclusively as circumcision rather than the genital mutilation that it is.
Many reasons are given in support of circumcision. It is, however, medically, a totally unnecessary procedure. There are many risks involved in having the procedure done as well.
Prompting this post is a story from the New York Times: “City Questions Circumcision Ritual After Baby Dies”. The Mohel, a circumciser utilized by some Jewish Orthodox groups, performs the delicate and dangerous procedure. As reported in the 2005 article out of the three cases seen, one infant died. Yet, even so, the practice continued and in 2012 we have a report of 11 herpes infected infants reported between 2000 and 2011. This includes the one fatality. There have also been cases where a Mohel practitioner has caused in serious damage. The possibility of serious injury can also occur in hospitals.
Do the benefits outweigh the risks? Most doctors say yes. Some doctors say the foreskin is a necessary organ. It developed as a result of the natural course of evolution. It performs necessary functions. Circumcision began as a religious practice and has been adopted as a matter of course by the general public. It’s time people realized that the foreskin developed as a natural part of evolution and that circumcision is an unnecessary practice that in fact carries risks. In any case the procedure should be carried out by a surgeon, not by religious sects, or Mohels, in barbaric ceremonies. Would you want Uncle Joe to remove your appendix, or a surgeon?