Dr Max Pemberton has a column in the Saturday edition of the Daily Mail, and he’s criticised MGM before. Another piece appears in today’s edition. The text in full below. While it’s welcome, you’ll be able to spot the flaws in some of his points:
There is no doubt that female genital mutilation (FGM) is a barbaric practice and has no place in our society.
It’s gone from something that was hidden within communities and condoned, to something that everyone has heard about and we loudly condemn.
One of the smart things that campaigners did was to change the terminology used to describe the practice from ‘female circumcision’ to FGM. Female circumcision sounded too medical and didn’t properly capture the horror of what was happening.
I have long questioned why we don’t talk about ‘male genital mutilation’ when it comes to male circumcision. This week, Dr Niall McCrae, a mental health expert at King’s College London, argued that while FGM has been illegal in the UK for 30 years, no one dares do the same with male circumcision for fear of offending religious sensibilities.
I totally agree with him.
Male circumcision involves the removal of healthy tissue, just as FGM does. It’s no less ethical or more justified doing it to a male as it is a female — there is no difference.
There are medical conditions when it might be necessary. Indeed, I was circumcised when I was four for medical reasons. But the majority of circumcisions are for cultural reasons or because it’s thought to be more hygienic — interestingly, the exact same justifications used for FGM.
Circumcision is a painful and potentially damaging operation that can have life-long consequences. I have seen many men who are having relationship difficulties as a result of sexual problems caused by it. As for hygiene, you don’t need to remove a part of a child’s anatomy, you just teach them to use soap.
The only proven medical benefit is reduced risk of HIV infection. But surely we should be teaching boys the importance of safe sex rather than lopping off things, just in case. Let’s call male circumcision what it really is: male genital mutilation.