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Saturday, November 14, 2015

Male and Female Genital Cutting

Why Some Women Choose to Get Circumcised - "She also challenges some common misconceptions around FGC, like the belief that it is forced on women by men. In fact, elderly women often do the most to perpetuate the custom. I thought African girls were held down and butchered against their will, but some of them voluntarily and joyfully partake in the ritual. I thought communities would surely abandon the practice once they learned of its negative health consequences. And yet, in Shell-Duncan's experience, most people who practice FGC recognize its costs—they just think the benefits outweigh them... for us, we believe that bodies are natural and perfect. Not everybody believes that. Some people in Africa believe that bodies are androgynous and that all male and female bodies contain male and female parts. So a man’s foreskin is a female part. And for a female, the covering of the clitoris is a male part. The idea of becoming a wholly formed female includes being cut—having any part that is somewhat male-like removed from the body... One of the things that is important to understand about it is that people see the costs and benefits. It is certainly a cost, but the benefits are immediate. For a Rendille woman, are you going to be able to give legitimate birth? Or elsewhere, are you going to be a proper Muslim? Are you going to have your sexual desire attenuated and be a virgin until marriage? These are huge considerations, and so when you tip the balance and think about that, the benefits outweigh the costs... Some of the campaigns talked about infibulation, which was not the most common form of FGC. Infibulation is the most severe form. That’s when they cut the labia minora, and they take the cut edges together and stitch it together and leave a pinhole opening for urine and menstrual blood. They partially open it for intercourse and to give birth. But that’s about 15 percent of cases. So activists were saying, “Look how terrible this is. And the people in these communities were like, “Well, that might be true in Somalia, but we don’t do that here.” There was a real credibility gap."

The Lure Of Vaginal Rejuvenation And Labiaplasty: Barbie, Barbie Everywhere - "some observers believe the general culture may be “brainwashing” women into believing they need these surgeries. It can be inferred such critics are also suggesting that, similar to a child, grown women lack agency — the ability to think for themselves and act independently"

Counting genital piercings as FGM 'undermines' abuse says union - "All women who have "intimate piercings" will be classified as having suffered female genital mutilation (FGM), the Department of Health says. Even if an adult consents to having it done, she will still be said to have undergone a "harmful procedure"... "Now we're faced with a situation where men are able to make up their mind and consent to an intimate piercing where women are not.""

PRESS RELEASE: 11.13.12 Western Media Coverage of Female Genital Surgeries in Africa is “Hyperbolic” and “One-Sided,” says International Policy Group - The Hastings Center - "Despite widespread condemnation of female genital surgeries as a form of mutilation and a violation of human rights, an international advisory group argues that the practice is poorly understood and unfairly characterized. In a public policy statement in the Hastings Center Report, the Public Policy Advisory Network on Female Genital Surgeries in Africa, a group that includes doctors, anthropologists, legal scholars, and feminists, argues that media coverage of the practice is hyperbolic and one sided, “painting the now familiar portrait of African female genital surgeries as savage, horrifying, harmful, misogynist, abusive, and socially unjust.” The advisory network’s statement takes no position on whether the practice should continue. It aims to “move the coverage of the topic from an over-heated, ideologically charged, and one-sided story about ‘mutilation,’ morbidity, and patriarchal oppression to a real, evidence-based policy debate governed by the standards of critical reason and fact checking”...
• Medical research has found that a high percentage of women who have had genital surgery “have rich sexual lives, including desire, arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction, and their frequency of sexual activity is not reduced.”
• Reproductive health and medical complications linked to female genital surgery happen infrequently.
• Those who value female genital surgery view it as aesthetic enhancement, not mutilation.
• In almost all societies where female genital surgery is performed, male genital surgery also takes place. Broadly speaking, then, such societies “are not singling out females as targets of punishment, sexual deprivation, or humiliation.”
• The link between patriarchy and female genital surgery is unfounded. Almost no patriarchal societies adhere to the practice and, at the same time, the practice is not customary in the world’s most sexually restrictive societies.
• Women manage and control female genital surgery in Africa and the practice “should not be blamed on men or on patriarchy.” Ironically, the authors contend, groups that fight against female genital surgery weaken the power of women.
• An influential WHO study about the "deadly consequences" of female genital surgery is the subject of criticism that has not been adequately publicized. The reported evidence does not support sensational media claims about female genital surgery as a cause of perinatal and maternal mortality during birth...
• The media, activists and policy-makers must “cease using violent and preemptive rhetoric” that paints a sensational image of African parents mutilating their daughters and damaging their reproductive and sexual health.
• It should be acknowledged that female genital surgery is not unique to African women; the authors liken it to “genital piercings on college campuses” and “vaginal rejuvenations requested by some Western women.”
• Advocates fighting for safe, hospital-based female genital surgery should be given a voice in public policy forums.
• “Zero tolerance” slogans promoted by anti-mutilation groups are counterproductive. Not only do they limit thoughtful, respectful dialogue, but they can make genital surgery more dangerous by driving the practice underground.
• Legislation and regulations that criminalize female genital surgery for adult women are discriminatory, because they deny women’s autonomy “to choose what makes them happy with their own bodies.”
• Studies of genital surgery should be multidisciplinary, and there should be support for a network linking researchers and advocates who have diverse points of view.
• Women and girls who have undergone genital surgery as children and are now living in countries where the practice is nonexistent or illegal should not be subjected to discourse that stigmatizes them or teaches them to expect sexual dysfunction. Such discourse “may provoke what could be called ‘psychological mutilation,’” potentially compromising the development of a normal and healthy psychosexual life"

The Association between Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and the Risk of HIV/AIDS in Kenyan Girls and Women (15-49 Years) - "The inverse association between FGM and HIV/AIDS established in this study
suggests a possible protective effect of female circumcision against HIV/AIDS. This finding suggests therefore the need to authenticate this inverse association in different populations and also to determine the mechanisms for the observed association."
This is related to "Female Circumcision and HIV Infection in Tanzania: for Better or for Worse?" which showed that female genital cutting (FGC) reduced HIV infection rates for women
Keywords: Kenya

A fatal irony: Why the “circumcision solution” to the AIDS epidemic in Africa may increase transmission of HIV - "The “randomized controlled trials” upon which these recommendations are based are not without their flaws. Their data have been harnessed to support public health recommendations on a massive scale whose implementation, it has been argued, may have the opposite of the claimed effect, with fatal consequences... the men who were circumcised got additional counseling about safe sex practices compared to the control group, and then they had to refrain from having sex altogether for the simple reason that their lacerated penises had to be wrapped in bandages until their wounds healed — leading to what Boyle and Hill refer to as “time-out discrepancy” in the quote above. By contrast, the non-circumcised men got to keep having sex during the full two month period during which the treatment group was in recovery mode. Then (due to a statistically significant effect having been detected) the trials were stopped early — which tends to lead to an overestimation the true effect size of the treatment... The absolute decrease in HIV infection between the treatment and control groups in these experiments was just 1.31%, which is likely to have no appreciable effect at the demographic level... “Before circumcising millions of men in regions with high prevalences of HIV infection, it is important to consider alternatives. A comparison of male circumcision to condom use concluded that supplying free condoms is 95 times more cost effective”... In Uganda, as Boyle and Hill uncovered, the Kampala Monitor reported men as saying, “I have heard that if you get circumcised, you cannot catch HIV/AIDS. I don’t have to use a condom.” Commenting on this problem, a Brazilian Health Ministry official stated: “[T]he WHO [World Health Organization] and UN HIV/AIDS program … gives a message of false protection because men might think that being circumcised means that they can have sex without condoms without any risk, which is untrue.”"
Someone I knew said that it was okay for him to have unprotected (raw) sex with prostitutes because he was circumcised, so he had a lower chance of getting HIV

Misconceptions about Modern and Ancient Genital Mutilations - "the American Medical Association:... "behavioral factors are far more important risk factors for acquisition of HIV and other sexually transmissible diseases than circumcision status, and circumcision cannot be responsibly viewed as "protecting" against such infections"... Richard Hain claim that female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation are "not the same" probably stems from lack of knowledge. Removal of the male prepuce does compromise male genital function. The prepuce, unlike the glans but like the lips and fingertips, is sensitive to light touch, pain, heat and cold. The glans and the penile shaft gain excellent sensitivity from the foreskin. The foreskin appears to be an important component of the overall sensory mechanism of the human penis. Men circumcised in adulthood report diminished penile sensitivity, less penile gratification, more penile pain and cosmetic deformity. A larger study measured the degree of sexual satisfaction before and after circumcision in adult new Russian immigrants that were circumcised in Israel. The circumcised immigrants report a decrease in their sexual satisfaction. Women that experienced sexual contacts with both mutilated (circumcised) and intact (uncircumcised) men report strong preference for the latter. These findings should come as no surprise. Maimonides, a famous Jewish sage and a physician, wrote in the 12th century about circumcision "that one of its objects is to limit sexual intercourse, and to weaken the organ of generation as far as possible, and thus cause man to be moderate. ... for there is no doubt that circumcision weakens the power of sexual excitement, and sometimes lessens the natural enjoyment; ... It is hard for a woman, with whom an uncircumcised had sexual intercourse, to separate from him"... In the societies that practice it, Female Genital Mutilation exactly like Male Genital Mutilation has many alleged benefits"
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