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English - Circumcision - Child Right of Self-Determination 2004

English - Circumcision - Child Right of Self-Determination 2004

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MALE AND FEMALE CIRCUMCISION
Among Jews, Christians and MuslimsThe child's right of self-determinationas to sexual integrityBySami A. Aldeeb Abu-Sahlieh
1
 Executive Master on Children's Rights 2003-2004 Fribourg University
13 february 2004
1
Doctor in Law; graduate in political sciences; Staff Legal Adviser responsible forArab and Islamic law at the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law, Lausanne. Author of a book in Arabic, French and English on male and female circumcision among Jews,Christians and Muslims. He also wrote many articles and gave many conferences onthis topic. See the list of his publications in: www.sami-aldeeb.com
1
 
I. Definition and distribution3
1) Definition32) Figures and geographical distribution3
II. Religious debate4
1) Debate among the Jews4A) The Bible4B) Recent debate52) Debate among the Christians6A) The New Testament6B) Recent debate73) Debate among the Moslems9A) The Koran and the Sunnah9B) Recent debate around male circumcision10C) Recent debate around female circumcision11
III. Medical debate12
1) Harmful effects of male and female circumcision122) Sexual consequences of male and female circumcision123) Pseudo-health benefits of male and female circumcision14A) Cleanliness14B) Masturbation15C) Prevention of venereal disease16D) Penile and cervical cancer16E) Phimosis and paraphimosis17F) Urinary tract infection17G) AIDS18
IV. Human rights debate20
1) Legislature's silence concerning male circumcision202) Male and female circumcisions and non-discrimination213) Circumcision and religious and cultural rights22A) Pretensions of communities22B) Priority of individual fundamental rights254) Circumcision and the right to physical integrity and life285) Circumcision, degrading treatment and torture306) Circumcision and the right to modesty327) Circumcision and respect of the dead34
V. Medical dispension34
1) Medical necessity34A) Prevention and care34B) Right to discipline36C) Circumcision as an aesthetic operation372) Informed consent of the patient or his representative39A) Informed consent39B) Consent before the operation40C) Consent of the patient or his representative40a) Consent of the adult41 b) Limits of legal representative43c) Consent of father or two parents45d) Religious authority intervention463) Authorization to exercise medicine respecting medical norms47A) The principle47B) Application of the principle in Israel and in West48C) Application of the principle in Egypt49
2
 
I. Definition and distribution1) Definition
There are mainly four forms of male circumcision:
1
st
type: This type consists of cutting away in part or in totality the skin of the penis that goes beyond the glans. This skin is called foreskin or prepuce.2
nd
type: This type is practiced mainly by the Jews. The circumciser takes firm grip of the foreskinwith his left hand. Having determined the amount to be removed, he clamps a shield on it to protect the glans from injury. The knife is then taken in the right hand and the foreskin isamputated with one sweep along the shield. This part of the operation is called the
milah
. It revealsthe mucous membrane (inner lining of the foreskin), the edge of which is then grasped firmly between the thumbnail and index finger of each hand and is torn down the centre as far as thecorona. This second part of the operation is called
 periah
. It is traditionally performed by thecircumciser with his sharpened fingernails.3
rd
type: This type involves completely peeling the skin of the penis and sometimes the skin of thescrotum and pubis. It existed (and probably continues to exist) among some tribes of South Arabia.Jacques Lantier describes a similar practice in black Africa, in the Namshi tribe.4
th
type: This type consists in a slitting open of the urinary tube from the scrotum to the glans,creating in this way an opening that looks like the female vagina. Called subincision, this type of circumcision is still performed by the Australian aborigines.
There are also four forms of female circumcision:
1
st
type: This type is excision of the prepuce, with or without excision of part or all of the clitoris.2
nd
type: This type consists of excision of the clitoris with partial or total excision of the labiaminora.3
rd
type: This type includes excision of part or all of the external genitalia and stitching/ narrowingof the vaginal opening (infibulation).4
th
type: This category includes all other types including pricking, piercing or incising of theclitoris and/or labia; stretching of the clitoris and/or labia; cauterising by burning of the clitoris andsurrounding tissue; scraping of tissue surrounding the vaginal orifice or cutting of the vagina; theintroduction of corrosive substances or herbs into the vagina to cause bleeding or for the purposeof tightening or narrowing it; and any other procedure that falls under the definition of femalegenital mutilation given above.
2) Figures and geographical distribution
Truly reliable figures on the extent of male and female circumcision in the world do notexist.In 1996, during the 4
th
international symposium held in Lausanne, the following figures weredistributed: every year, 13,300,000 male children are circumcised in the world. This makesan average of 1,100,000 children per month, 36,438 children per day, 1,518 children per hour and 25 children per minute. Another source indicates that 23% of the male populationof the world is circumcised, which makes a total of 650 million. Male circumcision is practiced on all male Jews and Muslims, to the exception of a small number of children.Besides the Jews and the Muslims, a certain number of Christians practice male circumcisionespecially the Christians of Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia. Their coreligionists in other Arabcountries, such as Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan and Syria, are rarely circumcised. There areindications that Christians of Palestine began circumcising children. In addition to theChristians already mentioned, it is necessary to mention the phenomenon of malecircumcision in Anglo-Saxon Western countries. Sources agree that the USA is the westerncountry with the highest circumcision rate: 70% in 2001. The rate of circumcision in theWestern countries of Europe is low, less than 2%. In South Korea, more than 90% of malesare circumcised because of the influence of the US Army there.3

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