In Australia, while rates of newborn circumcision continue to decline, 10 to 20% of newborn boys are still circumcised each year. Based on the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, that works out to be ≈16,000-32,000 newborn Australian boys every year being strapped to plastic boards to have their foreskins ripped, clamped, crushed, and cut off.
Circumcision procedures are intrinsically harmful and result in the loss of the foreskin tissue and its functions, some of which include:
- Sensitivity to sexual stimulation. The foreskin is the most sensitive part of the penis, and contains an abundance of specialised receptors that sense fine-touch. Circumcision reduces penile sensitivity.
- Adequate skin to cover the penis during an erection. The removal of too much tissue during circumcision can result in painful, curved, and shorter erections.
- Physical protection. The outer foreskin protects the head of the penis and the inner foreskin from chaffing and infection.
- Immune response to infection. The inner foreskin is a mucous membrane that contains immune cells and produces antimicrobial substances that fight infection. An intact genital mucosa may be needed for future vaccines developed against sexually transmissible infections to be effective.
Complications of circumcision include scarring, blood loss, infection, buried penis, penile adhesions, urethral fistula (holes in the tube urine comes out of), meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urethra that results in a narrow, high veolicty stream of urine), kidney failure, penile disfigurement and amputation, gangrene, psychological trauma, and death.
In September 2010 The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) released the following statement:
“After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand.”
Non-consensual, medically unnecessary circumcision breaches several human rights, including the right to freedom from all forms of violence, the right to security of person and bodily integrity, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, the right to the highest attainable standard of health, and the right to freedom from torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Routine infant male circumcision is by definition non-consensual and medically unnecessary; yet it continues to occur in Australia despite the fact young boys cannot consent to the removal of their foreskin; despite the loss of function that results from its removal; despite physical and psychological complications the procedure has on boys and men; despite our peak medical body not even recommending the practice; and despite it being a human rights violation.
AIGA is working change this, but we can’t do it without your help.