How do we end Male Genital Mutilation in North America?

Personally, I think of ending MGM as a tapestry of many different methods that all converge toward one good. Lawsuits, legislation change, education, picketing, demonstrations, conferences, internet sites, sharing our personal experiences where and when we can, manufacturing restoring devices, etc etc are all playing into a change in consciousness. What we have noticed here in Canada is a far greater participation on the part of anonymous hospital employees to be whistle blowers when there are hospital “mix ups” of boys.
It took a case of circumcising the wrong boy in Winnipeg, Manitoba to end MGM being paid for under the Medical Plan in the last holdout province in Canada. That was due to an anonymous call to a radio station by a staff member at the hosp. Now, there is absolutely no public funding for MGM anywhere in Canada. That says a lot in a country with a socialized medical system that has universal coverage. Most hosps in Canada will not allow MGM on the premises because of fear of lawsuits and all circumcisions are done in private clinics.

We still have an unbelievably high rate of 10% throughout the country. That 10% will be eliminated, too, through all the efforts large and small that we all do close to home and around the world.

4 thoughts on “How do we end Male Genital Mutilation in North America?

  1. I think something that everyone can do is talk talk talk about the issue to the people in their social circle, parents or not. I know I’ve helped to change a few minds among folks I know. I can remember a conversation I had with one young woman about 8 years ago who said, afterwards, “Wow, I had no idea. I thought that because they had been doing it all this time, there was a good reason. I would never do that to a kid of mine now that I know.” At the time she had no children, but now, all these years later, she’s pregnant, and it’s nice to know that it’s unlikely that she’d even consider it.

    I remember another conversation that happened at my ex’s family gathering. One of her cousins was considering having MGM performed on their then 5-month-old baby boy. One of my ex’s married-in uncles and I had quite a time arguing against in the face of the family’s nearly united approval of the procedure (one mother asked the unfortunate 13-year-old boy who had just come in for a glass of water whether he “missed his foreskin”, with her tone of voice clearly indicating to him that this was a ridiculous idea), but in the end I think we said enough to convince her to leave her son alone (repeating “$300” over and over again is helpful in this sort of situation, I find).

  2. Thanks for sharing that, Kenzie. One of my funniest education moments was when I was getting my hair done. The hairdresser was expecting a boy and I launched into my lecture about the importance of the prepuce. She turned on the blow dryer so, of course, I had to talk over top of that. When she turned it off, I realized that the whole hair salon had gone completely silent and everyone was listening to me blare on and on. I apologized and, I don’t know if they were just being polite, but everyone assured me that they had learned a lot!

  3. Gloria, I completely agree with you that it takes a tapestry to end this. In Canada, the end came as a result of the death of Ryliegh McWillis in August 2002. Usually, these deaths are carefully hidden by all parties involved but it appears that someone from inside the hospital leaked Ryliegh’s death and the media picked up on it and widely reported it. This brought about a change in Canada. Well before this, Dr. Dennis Kendall of the Saskatchewan CPS had been issuing warnings to doctors about their liability and it appears that they ignored the warnings until Ryleigh’s death brought it home and made it real. Doctors suddenly realized that it could affect their professional reputations, their practices and their financial solvency. As a result, there are very few that will now perform infant circumcisions today. This is the main reason the circumcision rate in Canada has fallen to 6.75% as of the last calculation.

    In The US, it is a different story. As in Canada, infant circumcision deaths are carefully hidden from public view and few are even remotely aware that there is a possibility of death. They are quite surprised to learn that three separate studies performed over a 20 year span quantifies the deaths at a surprisingly consistent 230 per year. Even when there is a death or a lawsuit for a botched procedure, the media gives it sparse attention if any.

    The US media appears to be consciously rejecting press releases critical of infant circumcision while publishing any pro-circumcision press releases. NOCIRC and Intact America lament that although they issue press releases, they usually are only published in less than a half dozen outlets while fraudulent press releases are picked up and published by hundreds of outlets.

    The largest single influence in our movement has been the internet. We are able to post information freely and without the constraints of media censorship. Using this single tool, we have been able to change the face of the practice. We have made great gains and have significantly reduced the infant circumcision rate in The US and abroad. For instance, Australia is now contemplating making the procedure illegal in that country and the movement has the full support of the President of The Australian Medical Association and the Childrens Commissioner. As a matter of fact, they are the two that are responsible for the legislation. Already, they have succeeded in making the operation illegal in public hospitals in 5 of the 6 provinces. This legislation will make it illegal in all medical facilities in all provinces. This is progress and it is all the result of dedicated volunteer workers on the internet. We are a force to be reckoned with!


  4. Re – how do we end?…In the USA a high priority is the end of insurance for infant circ.

    Without insurance:
    parents are more likely to research/question
    parents have to take more responsibility
    no “free is good” mind association
    less likely to take it for granted
    less pressure to conform
    doctors will be less able to promote it
    the profit motive will be more obvious (eg. ‘It will cost us $800!!”)
    no endorsement (“what its not even covered”)
    There are other reasons.

    One of the least reasons being some parents will not have the money for it.
    (Ad the only reason according to the AAP Task Force)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *