Sunday, June 30, 2013

Circumcision From the Perspective of Protecting Children

By Eran Sadeh © 2013
More from Sadeh at his website, Gonnen.org (Protect the Child)


My name is Eran Sadeh. I am Israeli. I am Jewish.

I was born 43 years ago in Tel Aviv, a healthy baby with a perfect body. 8 days after I was born one man held my tiny legs down while another man cut a part of my penis off with a knife.

I was in pain, I screamed, I bled. It’s over. But the part that was cut off from my penis is forever gone.

36 years later my son was born. Two days before his planned circumcision, while searching online for recommendations on the doctor-mohel we chose, I stumbled upon the following paragraph from The Guide for the Perplexed by Maimonides, the great Jewish philosopher:
As regards circumcision, I think 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. Some people believe that circumcision is to remove a defect in man’s formation; but every one can easily reply: How can products of nature be deficient so as to require external completion, especially as the use of the foreskin to that organ is evident. The bodily injury caused to that organ is exactly that which is desired; This is, as I believe, the best reason for the commandment concerning circumcision.
I was shocked. I realized that the Jewish motivation for circumcision was diminishing sexual pleasure, the same motivation as the one behind female genital cutting.

I was so amazed by this text, so I went on to read every piece of information I could find about the part that was cut off from my penis. The more I read and understood the anatomy and functions of the foreskin, the more it became impossible to escape the painful and enraging realization that my body was violated, that my penis was damaged and diminished in its capacity to sense pleasure, and that I will never be able to experience and enjoy sex as nature intended it.

The amputation of the foreskin removes a highly erogenous tissue the size of an index card on a male adult. A man who is missing that covering tissue of the penile shaft, feels less pleasure, because he does not have the thousands of nerve endings that went with the tissue that was amputated. The foreskin serves as a protective sleeve that slides up and down the penile shaft, reduces friction and stimulates the specialized nerve endings and the head of the penis and so it makes for more comfortable and pleasurable sex for both partners.

I found reports showing that in Israel alone hundreds of baby boys are rushed every year to emergency rooms and operating rooms to treat complications following the amputation of the foreskin.

I learned that studies show that the pain suffered by the baby during circumcision is traumatic and adversely affects his reactions to pain later in life, and I read testimonies by mothers about the screaming of their boys during the healing period, when the open circumcision wound comes in contact with urine.

Thanks to all the information that was revealed to me that day, my wife and I also decided to leave our son intact, so I called the doctor-mohel and cancelled the scheduled circumcision.

As you can see, circumcision is nothing but a euphemism for forcibly amputating a healthy body part of a helpless child, causing irreversible bodily damage and pain and putting the child at risk. All this in the name of religion and tradition.

This will not do in a country that protects children’s human rights, especially the right to bodily integrity and the right to equal protection by the law.

A note to doctors: you have no business performing religiously motivated circumcisions. It is a violation of the first rule of your code of ethics, which is: Do No Harm. A forcible amputation of a healthy body part of a non-consenting minor without medical indication is an assault that causes bodily damage and this bodily damage gives rise to both a criminal liability and a civil liability, which cannot be waived. A consent by the parents to circumcision is invalid, because parents cannot authorize an amputation of a healthy body part of their child without medical necessity. Doctors, you are not cutting machines. Your professional obligation is to heal and treat a patient. If the child before you is healthy, whether a boy or a girl, you do not cut anything from his or her body.

Postponing circumcision to an age when a person can legally consent to amputate a part of his penis is the only legal and ethical way out of this conflict of rights. My body – My choice. This solution does limit the freedom of religion. But it is only temporary. If, however, you forcibly amputate the foreskin of a child when he is a minor and cannot give consent, you trump his right to bodily integrity for ever.

I am happy to be a part of a global movement to eradicate forced circumcision of minors. All over the world, men like myself who are hurt by the amputation of their foreskin, are speaking up and letting their voices be heard.

Mothers and fathers – learn about the advantages of a normal intact penis, learn about the disadvantages of a cut penis, and join the 80% of the sane world where parents welcome their sons to life without violating their bodily integrity, without hurting them, and without putting them at risk.


The images (above, below) are from a press conference held in Berlin on September 12th 2012 by the Deutche Kinderhilfe, a German children’s aid organization, under the title: Circumcision from the perspective of protecting children. 



You can view my statement here:


Find further resources by and for Jews on the subject of circumcision at the Judaism & Brit Milah resource page.


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