As widespread and common as it is, not many people think to question the practice of circumcision, even when it is being performed on newborn babies. However, attitudes to the practice are slowly changing, with one mother from Nottingham, England even suing a doctor for circumcising her infant son without any parental consent. The high profile case stands to pave the way for campaigners who claim that circumcision is a form of male genital mutilation, and that they were wrongfully subjected to it as children.
Dr. Balvinder Mehat of Nottingham’s Bakersfield Medical Center allegedly performed the procedure on the baby before his 26-year old mother picked him up later in the day, a report on DailyMail.co.uk said. The report did not clarify why the baby was with the doctor in the first place.
The mother reported that she could see that her son was in pain when he was returned to her.
“He was screaming and crying, but trying to comfort him just disturbed the wound and made it worse. I could not believe what they had done to him,” she said in the report. “He has been mutilated and suffered permanent damage.”
The mother has claimed assault, with the representation of respected human rights lawyer Saimo Chahal. “This mother clearly did not consent to her son undergoing the circumcision procedure, which could constitute a criminal offense,” Chahal said. “While some people with religious beliefs see circumcision as normal, there are others who see it as an unnecessary assault which can be physically and psychologically harmful.”
The mother is being supported by members of several groups that are campaigning against circumcision, among them David Smith from the organization Genital Autonomy. Smith said: “We’re hoping the case will open the floodgates for other complaints and a clarification that circumcision of non-consenting children is a human right’s abuse.”
Male circumcision has been a controversial topic in recent years as debates over its ethical implications rage on. Notably, in 2013, representatives from the six Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Norway, and Greenland decided that circumcision, particularly in newborns, goes against the UN Convention of thee Rights of the Child. The representatives have said that circumcision should not be done until the child can decide for himself, a report on VICE.com said.
Circumcision, which involves the removal of foreskin from the penis, is often performed in newborn babies. In many cases, the procedure is tied to religious rituals, particularly among those who follow Judaism and Islam.
While it is a common medical procedure, there have been cases of circumcision causing severe medical repercussions such as brain damage, amputation, and even death. In 2013, a nurse from Manchester was found guilty of manslaughter after she performed a circumcision that led to the death of a three-week old baby. The nurse, Grace Ebun Adeleye, used a pair of scissors, forceps, and olive oil to circumcise the baby, ManchesterEveningNews.co.uk reported. She was reportedly hired by the child’s parents and paid 100 British Pounds to perform the procedure. Adeleye served 21 months in prison and a two-year suspension. She was also stripped of her license to practice nursing and midwifery in the United Kingdom.
In another case, a nine-year old boy from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia lost his penis after two botched circumcisions in a week. The first circumcision procedure, performed in a clinic, led to the head of the boy’s penis being completely severed, TheStar.com.my reported. He was then brought to another hospital for reattachment, which regrettably failed, leaving his penis to blacken. The doctors then had to amputate the boy’s penis.
“It is so unfortunate that this had happened to the poorboy,” said lawyer P. Uthayakumar. “He is so young, he doesn’t know what has happened.”
Learn more about men’s health on Medicine.news.