12:11 (GMT+2), Fri, 30 September 2011
Choosing whether to circumcise one’s child is not an easy decision for all parents. Many grown men today are unhappy that they were circumcised as infants, especially if it wasn’t done for medical or religious reasons. Research shows that the foreskin isn’t just a flap of unnecessary skin as previously believed, but it is, in fact, the most sensitive part of the penis.
The worldwide stance on circumcision
There are many arguments for circumcision, but as with all controversial topics, there are also arguments against the practice. Circumcision has been a religious and cultural tradition for thousands of years in many parts of the world, and forms an important part of the Muslim and Jewish faiths. The choice to circumcise is largely still driven by cultural preference. Medical Associations in most parts of the world, including Australia, Canada and America no longer recommend non-therapeutic, routine infant circumcision. The South African Medical Association’s stance on the topic is that there’s no medical justification for routine circumcision in babies and children. This statement has lead to doctors refusing to circumcise infant boys unless it’s for religious reasons or if there’s a valid medical reason for the procedure to be performed. The new Children’s Act in South Africa also protects babies and children under age 16 from being circumcised without a medical or religious reason.
Living and Loving’s resident baby care expert, and leading midwife and author, Sister Lilian adds that she believes culture and tradition must be respected, as this often helps children to feel part of a community; it strengthens their identity and gives them pride in their culture and family. “However, practices that are harmful to children must not be upheld just for the sake of tradition. Circumcision can be done under anaesthetic, but this is often not done and therefore the procedure can be extremely frightening and painful for babies.”
By Xanet van Vuuren
Why circumcise? Xanet van Vuuren, baby, birth, circumcision