CIN CompuBulletin Circumcision Information Network Volume 2, Number 24, 10 July 1995 E-Mail: CircInfoNe@aol.com INTRODUCTION This weekly bulletin is a project of CIN, the Circumcision Information Network. Its purpose is to educate the public about and to protect children from genital mutilation. Readers are encouraged to copy and redistribute it, and to contribute written material. --Rich Angell, Editor. AD HOC WORKING GROUP OF INTERNATIONAL EXPERTS ON VIOLATIONS OF GENITAL MUTILATION A Human Rights Research Project of Ecumenics International NEWS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE DISTRIBUTION (Thanks to typist George Hill) 1 July 1995, SOUTHFIELDS, NEW YORK USA--As of 27 June 1995 the Ad Hoc Working Group of International Experts on Violations of Genital Mutilation (subnamed "Int'l VGM") officially began its four year tenure in response to the United Nations' "Convention on The Rights of the Child" (Article 24.3): "States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children." and to Chapter 12, B 12.13 of the "Programme of Action" of the International Conference on Population and Development (IPCD) calling for international research projects concentrating on "genital mutilation, where practiced." The Int'l VGM's prime objective is to generate local, national, regional, and global resource-sharing and establish worldwide databases on human rights infractions of genital mutilation, erroneously termed male and female circumcision. Genital Mutilation is a traditional practice of physiological torture and psychological trauma destroying reproductive integrity and sexual health with significant risks of death. In late 1994, a global call for nominations was issued by Ecumenics International (a non-profit, humanitarian, non-governmental organization) to assure equal and equitable distribution of resource sharing and global representation on violations of genital mutilation which affects no less than 15 million children each year. Globally, genital mutilation affects over 13.3 million males per year; North America annually tallies 1.25 million male neonate victims (one every 26 seconds). Just over two million girls and young women throughout Africa are mutilated each year (one every 12 seconds). The boy-child and men constitute 84% of the global total of genital mutilation. Unfounded by medical, social, traditional, or belief justifications, genital mutilation violates at least 18 UN human rights documents. With well over USD $250,000,000 invested in genital mutilation, and the proliferation of transnational corporations trafficking in amputated child body organs in a multi-billion dollar business, the international community seeks to review the literature on genital mutilation. and consider corrective action as necessary for social development. The Int'l VGM has appealed to the UN's Population Fund (UNFPA), host agency of IPCD, and has received its cooperation for monitoring of the working groups activities and needs as they pertain to the UN. The Int'l VGM has members and affiliates in all regions of the world serving as local contacts and coordinating bodies. Requests for additional information must be submitted in writing to: Int'l VGM, P. O. Box 197, Southfields, NY 10975. CIRCUMCISION LAWSUITS: BEHIND THE SCENES Contributed by Barry Ellsworth, BarryBE@aol.com Following Up On 22 June's Story of the Death of Demetrius Manker: Unfortunately, personal injury settlements usually involve a guarantee by the plaintiff that they will not go public with their story and thus further discredit the doctor or hospital. This is why we have only sketchy information about most of the seriously botched circumcisions that have ended in law suits. In this case, I'm not even sure why the lawyer agreed to the interview in the first place. He may have thought that I was a bigger fish than I am, and hoped that the threat of exposure on night line or some other program would drive the settlement up. Or he wanted to "rehearse" his client for the final courtroom testimony. He was a rather slick fellow, and not at all interested in condemning circumcision as a practice. After the interview, he offered to pay me for a copy of the tape, which would of course have established it as his property. I refused. I sent him a free dub and a release form, which he had led me to believe that his client would sign. I never got either back, and repeated calls to his office were not returned. I didn't want to blow the interview by insisting on a release in advance, because I knew I was lucky to get it in the first place. Next time I'll be smarter. A VICTIM SPEAKS Contributed by Christopher P., London, England As one who suffered the fashionable mutilation of neonate circumcision in the mid-1940s in Britain, I have always resented the fact that, far from being a necessary procedure, my circumcision was wholly unnecessary and has left me, because it was performed by a very junior doctor, with a penis so tightly cut that a full erection is very uncomfortable, with a scar that looks as if the operation were done with a pair of pinking scissors and which wanders up and down the shaft, with a glans which is pitted from infections contracted (my mother told me) whilst I was in diapers from which a foreskin would have protected me (so my father, a doctor, told me) and with a glans so insensitive that I have greater sensitivity in my finger-tips. In my mid-30s I finally plucked up courage (because for many years I feared further butchery to a penis which caused me so much distress from its appearance and lack of proper function) to have an broad adhesion between the glans and the shaft, caused solely by the circumcision and its aftermath, removed: what struck me was that for a few weeks the part of the glans so exposed to touch and to the sensation of my wife's tongue and vagina was intensely more profound than I had believed possible. For the first time oral sex from my wife was something that I could actually feel in a small part of my glans. In due course the abrasion of clothing reduced that part of the glans to the same grey, insensitive piece of flesh as the rest. Having glimpsed for myself, no matter in so small a part of the glans and for such a brief time, how life might have been had I not been mutilated as a victim of medical fashion, my resentment and my sense of loss and loathing increased and deepened. At the age of 50 I still harbour bitter anger towards my mother for giving into the blandishments of the doctors. In recent treatment for alcoholism, this anger and the sense of being different from the rest of my family, all of whom were not circumcised, were seen as being major causes of the feelings and lack of self-worth which lead me to abuse alcohol. My sex-life with my wife has been, to her great distress, infrequent for most of our marriage because it was for me rarely a source of physical pleasure; I am now, and have been for some 7 years, almost totally impotent. I yearn to know, with a sense that I cannot convey in words, how it must feel to have a foreskin and to feel not only intercourse but even simple actions as urinating with the foreskin in its normal position covering the glans. For myself, I would favour legislation banning all circumcision unless it were medically imperative to do it or it was requested by an adult on himself. I am aware that that would not find favour with the people (Muslims and Jews) who circumcise as a matter of religious belief. But it seems to me profoundly wrong to subject an infant to the pain (it is carried out without anaesthetic), risks of complications, mutilation, and the ruin of his sexual enjoyment and even of his sexual life in the name of a religion which he might grow up to reject. To those who cry that such a ban interferes with religious freedom, I would reply that there are religious practices which a civilised world now rejects, such as burning heretics at the stake, and there would be nothing to stop a man of his own volition deciding that he wished to be circumcised for his freely chosen religious beliefs; what is repugnant is that an infant is put through this pain, mutilation and future sexual dysfunction to a greater or lesser extent without any say in the matter or any choice in the future being left to him. Proponents of neonate circumcision point to the fact that there are decisions such as choice of school which parents make for their children, as justifying taking the particular decision to circumcise. I consider that to be a false argument, since even a child who has suffered from poor schooling as a result of a poor parental choice of school can as an adult remedy that deficit by adult education. Circumcision is both deeply harmful and in practical terms irreversible. Incidentally, my wife contracted cervical cancer some years ago, despite my being circumcised; so she and I do not even have that so-called "advantage" to console me for my mutilation. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION call NOCIRC, the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers at (415) 488-9883, fax (415) 488-9660. Ask about the resource provider nearest you. For written information, write NOCIRC, PO Box 2512, San Anselmo, CA 94979, with SASE and/or donation if possible. CIN Compubulletin Circumcision Information Network Volume 2, Number 29, 7 September 1995 E-Mail: CircInfoNe@aol.com The purpose of this weekly bulletin is to educate the public about and to protect children and other non-consenting persons from genital mutilation. Readers are encouraged to copy and redistribute it, and to contribute written material. --Rich Angell, Editor. PATIENTS IN ARMS Contributed by Carla Miller, Founder/Director 7480 Gravois Dittmer, MO 63023 Phone/Fax (314) 274-ARMS (Thanks to typist Al Fields, email@example.com) During these past 14 years, I've talked with numerous other women with stories similar to mine. I realize now that there are THOUSANDS -- perhaps even millions -- of women in this country who have been mutilated by their doctors. One nurse told me, "They do this to women all the time; they just don't tell them about it." One woman told me that she has had 18 operations in an unsuccessful attempt to repair her original surgery. One woman's stitches keep falling apart. One has to stand to urinate. Another has to wear diapers. Another can't keep her feces out of her vagina. Doctors performing "repair" operations on several of one surgeon's victims found hearts and his initials carved on their insides. Many of these women now live as virtual recluses. I've wondered how many have committed suicide. I WANT THIS SURGICAL DESTRUCTION OF GENITALS AND LIVES TO STOP. I cannot live -- I cannot die in peace -- knowing that doctors are doing to others what they did to me and are getting away with it - without doing everything I can to stop it. I have founded PATIENTS IN ARMS to provide emotional support for victims of this deliberate, premeditated, intentional surgical mutilation of patients by their doctors; to document the physical and psychological damage and suffering it causes; to expose the greed, power lust, contempt, arrogance, indifference, hatred of women and pathological compulsion of the doctors who do it; to expose the collusion/conspiracy between state medical boards and doctors that covers it up and helps perpetuate it; to force state medical boars to do their job by immediately investigating complaints about it and taking swift, firm action against it; to forewarn and forearm the general public by making them aware of it; to help enact laws against it; to see that those laws are vigorously enforced to prevent it; and to SEVERELY punish doctors who continue to do it. I want to know WHY doctors mutilate women. I want to know WHY they mutilate male babies. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT COMPELS MUTSILATORS TO MUTILATE. It's not just money. I want to know if the percentage of doctors who cut genitals is higher among doctors whose own genitals have been cut. Is male infant circumcision at the bottom of all this cutting? IS IT? I would especially like to contact other women who have been patients of Dr. Masters, and women who have consulted him about surgical "repair." I welcome calls, correspondence, questions and comments from anyone who has been the victim of obstetrical or gynecological mutilation or any other kind of mutilation, malpractice, conspiracy or fraud -- INCLUDING THE AMPUTATION AND TRAFFICKING OF INFANT MALE FORESKINS. I care. I understand. I'll listen. I'll help any way I can. Editor's note: The beginning of Carla's astounding and moving testimony was accidentally erased. Readers who wish to read the rest of the story are encouraged to contact her at the above address. LAWSUITS TIPPED TO UPSET DOCTORS Contributed by John Shanahan of Australia, thanks to typist George Hill, firstname.lastname@example.org, original reporter unknown ADELAIDE (AUSTRALIA) ADVERTISER ADELAIDE, South Australia, Tuesday, 15 August 1995 DOCTORS face being sued for assault by circumcised men regardless of whether their parents gave consent to the operation. The Australian Medical Association's medico-legal committee is seeking legal advice after a report by the Queensland Law Review Commission warned parental consent may be no defense. The success of any future lawsuit may hinge on whether there was a medical need for the operation, rather than it being performed as a social or religious rite. A strict interpretation of the law could leave doctors liable to be sued for damages for assault, as lack of medical benefit may negate parental consent. While a damages claim may appear unlikely, the AMA's national vice-president, Dr. Keith Woollard, said when it comes to lawsuits against doctors "the imagination knows no bounds". He said doctors may also face being sued for lost of sexual pleasure, in light of new theories that lack of foreskin reduces sexual sensation. The AMA's present policy is to discourage circumcision. "SEEING IN BLACK AND WHITE, SEEING IN COLOR" Contributed by Steven Svoboda My solo performance piece, treating my circumcision and also addressing contacts I've had with the military, continues to be performed. I got back a few hours ago from Dance New England Dance Camp in Poland Spring, Maine, where I performed to an audience of about 200 and received amazing feedback. Unfortunately, I must report that a lot of the men seemed to numb out on the issue and the bulk of comments came from women. Nevertheless, at least 50 people were apparently affected and informed by the piece. The next performance is scheuduled for September 30, 1995 at 9:00 PM at Mad Magda's Cafe, 579 Hayes Street, San Francisco. Call (415) 824-8230 or e-mail to email@example.com for more info. QUOTE OF THE WEEK Contributed by Warren Smith of New Jersey "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead. FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION call NOCIRC, the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers at (415) 488-9883, fax (415) 488-9660. Ask about the resource provider nearest you. For written information, write NOCIRC, PO Box 2512, San Anselmo, CA 94979, with SASE and/or donation if possible.
[Note: For the September 15 1995 issue of CIN, that was mistakenly added to the end of this file, including the Oprah Winfrey episode, see http://www.cirp.org/news/cin/1995.09.15]