Monday, June 4, 2012

Female Circumcision & Health Benefits

One of the arguments you will hear trying to justify male circumcision and denounce female circumcision is that "Male circumcision has health benefits but Female Circumcision has no health benefits".  In actual fact there are at least 2 studies listed below that show a correlation between female circumcision and lower HIV infections, and medical practitioners in femcirc cultures report that clinical experience shows that female circumcision does indeed have health benefits (below).

My opinion is that health benefits or no health benefits, that human rights supercede any such health benefits.

There are 2 issues here.

1 Cultural values. Some western cultures value male circumcision, but most do not.  All western cultures view female circumcision as a human rights violation.

2 Availability of data.  The truth is there is very little reliable or valid data about the health benefits of female circumcision because no-one is interested if there are any benefits.


Given that cultural values determine where research money is put and what research is done, you'll find lots of western research into male circumcision and virtually none except for 2 isolated studies on female circumcision, which follow. Since the rich west, in particular the USA has a culture of male circumcision, lots of money goes into trying to find or prove health benefits for male circumcision.  Whereas female circumcision is unfamiliar, and seen as a human rights violation, therefore no money is placed to determine whether any such health benefits exist.  Infact the opposite is true, Stallings (2005) were given research money to find that circumcised women had a greater susceptibility to HIV (Probably to confirm our moral superiority in the west vs the barbaric female circumcisers) But alas the researchers were devaststed when they found that circumcised women had half the rate of HIV infections compared to uncircumcised women. 


"Stallings et al. (2005) reported that, in Tanzanian women,
the risk of HIV among women who had undergone FGC
was roughly half that of women who had not; the association
remained significant after adjusting for region, household
wealth, age, lifetime partners, union status, and recent ulcer."

The disappointment of the researchers was palpable, no celebrations, no calls for funding to do RCT's to further validate their findings, just disappointment "for better or worse" they stated.   "Female circumcision and HIV infection in Tanzania:for better or for worse?  (3rd IAS conference on HIV pathogenesis and treatment)".
International AIDS Society.

Now instead of using this research to argue that female circumcision had health benefits afterall, the values of the researchers intervened, and they were at a loss to explain this unwanted finding.  Note the difference to how the American researchers celebrated when they found male circumcision had a slight reduction in HIV infections.  VALUES!!!!!!

However, Rightly so that no funding was then generated to conduct RCT's on female circumcision and its protective effect for HIV.  It was morals about human rights which prevailed, but only because it was female circumcision and foreign to American Culture.  Imagine if well funded Egyptian researchers had found this, in a culture where female circumcision is common?

The 2005 Stallings research is not the only research to find this link between female circumcision and lower HIV infections.  Kanki et al found the same:

Kanki et al. reported that, in Senegalese prostitutes,
women who had undergone FGC had a significantly
decreased risk of HIV-2 infection when compared to
those who had not.

Kanki P, M'Boup S, Marlink R, et al. "Prevalence and risk
determinants of human immunodeficiency virus type 2
(HIV-2) and human immunodeficiency virus type 1
(HIV-1) in west African female prostitutes".
Am. J. Epidemiol. 136 (7): 895-907. PMID

Again no celebrations, and "NO" demand for RCT's, WHY = Cultural Values!!!!!!!

So the issue here is that Cultural Values determine whether research money is devoted to finding health benefits for any procedure.  Given female circumcision is rightly seen as a human rights violation, no research or money is devoted to investigating the health benefits of circumcision on women.  Human Rights correctly trump health benefits when it comes to female circumcision, but certainly not when it comes to male circumcision.

So does female circumcision have health benefits?  The truth is we dont really know, but there is some evidence to suggest that removing female genital skin has a correlation with reduced HIV infections.  This would need to be confirmed by further study, but you and I know this isnt going to happen because of our western values against female genital cutting.  Even if it was confirmed female circumcision had health benefits, it is still morally and ethically wrong.  In some way yes if you remove genital skin you wont have problems with something that doesnt exist anymore, its just that ethics prevent western society from wanting to reduce female genital skin to achieve any health benefits because ethics and human rights are considered important in the case of women's genitals.

At least this is some PROOF that there are some higher values than Health Benefits from genital surgery, and YES Human Rights are considered more important!!!!!!  Unfortunately when it comes to circumcision though, only the human rights of females are considered important.  SADLY!!!!!!

Clinical Findings in FGM Cultures:

Further Reading: Below I have included what doctors in Islamic nations say about the health benefits of female circumcision from a clinical experience perspective, with my comments in bold italics:

The following is a text I copied from the website below.



This is to take the perspective of those from Female circumcision cultures and see what they believe.
It is what Medical Doctors believe about the health benefits of female circumcision, and I will post my comments in Bold Italics


Mentioning some of these benefits, Dr. Haamid al-Ghawaabi says:

The secretions of the labia minora accumulate in uncircumcised women and turn rancid, so they develop an unpleasant odour which may lead to infections of the vagina or urethra. I have seen many cases of sickness caused by the lack of circumcision. Lack of circumcision or poor hygeine?, nothing a good wash couldnt cure I'm sure!

Circumcision reduces excessive sensitivity of the clitoris which may cause it to increase in size to 3 centimeters when aroused, which is very annoying to the husband, especially at the time of intercourse. I doubt its annoying to the husband, but really has it got anything to do with the husband, what about the woman? Does she not count here? She might enjoy a sensitive clitoris it might give her pleasure, to me it sounds paternalistic controlling and mysoginistic, but then again I'm just a humanistic westerner what would I know?

Another benefit of circumcision is that it prevents stimulation of the clitoris which makes it grow large in such a manner that it causes pain. PAIN? Sure you not mixing that up with PLEASURE?

Circumcision prevents spasms of the clitoris which are a kind of inflammation. I think spasms of the clitoris are what is commonly known as an orgasm! Inflammation, I think its called AROUSAL where I come from!!!!!!

Circumcision reduces excessive sexual desire. This is the real reason for female circumcision, the control of female sexuality?

Then Dr al-Ghawaabi refutes those who claim that female circumcision leads to frigidity by noting:

Frigidity has many causes, and this claim is not based on any sound statistics comparing circumcised women with uncircumcised women, except in the case of Pharaonic circumcision which is where the clitoris is excised completely. This does in fact lead to frigidity but it is contrary to the kind of circumcision enjoined by the Prophet of mercy (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) when he said: “Do not destroy” i.e., do not uproot or excise. This alone is evidence that speaks for itself, because medicine at that time knew very little about this sensitive organ (the clitoris) and its nerves. I geuss these are deeply held religious beliefs and I wont comment further.

From Liwa’ al-Islam magazine, issue 8 and 10; article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat (circumcision of girls).

The female gynaecologist Sitt al-Banaat Khaalid says in an article entitled Khitaan al-Banaat Ru’yah Sihhiyyah (Female circumcision from a health point of view):

For us in the Muslim world female circumcision is, above all else, obedience to Islam, which means acting in accordance with the fitrah and following the Sunnah which encourages it. We all know the dimensions of Islam, and that everything in it must be good in all aspects, including health aspects. If the benefits are not apparent now, they will become known in the future, as has happened with regard to male circumcision – the world now knows its benefits and it has become widespread among all nations despite the opposition of some groups. Sound like excellent rationalisations if you want to believe that sort of thing, just a minor ommission, HUMAN RIGHTS!!.

Then she mentioned some of the health benefits of female circumcision and said:

It takes away excessive libido from women Surely a human rights issue!

It prevents unpleasant odours which result from foul secretions beneath the prepuce. Heard this before, nothing a good rinse with fresh water couldnt cure.

It reduces the incidence of urinary tract infections Is this truly the case? If so, UTI's are easily treatable without circumcision.

It reduces the incidence of infections of the reproductive system. Is this truly the case? If so, Conventional medicine can treat without circumcision.

In the book on Traditions that affect the health of women and children, which was published by the World Health Organization in 1979 it says:

With regard to the type of female circumcision which involves removal of the prepuce of the clitoris, which is similar to male circumcision, no harmful health effects have been noted. Is this truly the case? This whole argument that female circumcision has health benefits sounds just the same as the male circumcision arguments from the USA. If you are truly offended by reading these firmly held beliefs, then you and I are similar. However, if you are offended by these arguments yet believe they are valid in the case of male circumcision, then I say you are a hypocrite, and inconsistent!

As a closing statement I'd like to say, That these arguments in favor of female circumcision might sound primitive, barbaric and simplistic, & easily countered as I have done. But to me the arguments in favor of male circumcision sound just as primitive, barbaric & simplistic I see no difference. So as those that practice & defend femcirc sound from another planet, those that practice & defend male circ sound exactly the same to me (from the planet Uranus).

15 comments:

  1. Can you please give the journal reference for the 2009 Stallings research?

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    1. 4.Stallings RY, Karugendo E (2005) Female circumcision and HIV infection in Tanzania: For better or for worse? [poster] 3rd International AIDS Society Conference; 2005 24 July–27 July; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. International AIDS Society. Available: http://www.hiv-knowledge.org/iasmaps/i10​.htm. Accessed 13 December 2005 .

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  2. Can you please give the journal reference (citation) for the 2009 Stallings research?

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    1. http://www.tzonline.org/pdf/femalecircumcisionandHIVinfectionintanzania.pdf

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    2. Female Circumcision and
      HIV Infection in Tanzania:
      for Better or for Worse?
      Rebecca Y. Stallings,
      χ2 Statisticus Consultoris, USA and
      Emilian Karugendo,
      National Bureau of Statistics,
      Tanzania

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  3. Very interesting post. I am doing a paper on FGM (FGC) and have only recently come to realize there are inactivists against MGM/MGC as well. But, it definitely makes sense. In both cases, the victim is an unconsenting child. Perhaps FGM is a more prevalent issue because it is done to women who are older and therefore can remember in lurid detail and distress what was done to them, vs. a newborn baby will be less psychologically affected... it certainly doesn't make it right, but babies can't complain and recount their story like a 15-year-old girl can. Also, I think the reason inactivists are more outraged over FGM is because it is more extreme than male circumcision. Both are accepted in their cultures, both have an aesthetic element and a possible health benefit (regarding HIV, which can be eliminated with proper contraceptive use) but one does not inhibit sexual or reproductive health, and that is MGC. While it does have some element of desensitizing the male organ, MGC does not take away all sexual pleasure for a male. Whereas FGM or FGC as you call it tamely, exists in four methods, the most common of which involves removing part or ALL of the clitoris (This is 80% of FGM). MGC is done by western culture for traditional and hygienic purposes, and can be done without eradicating future sexual pleasure. Over the lifespan of these men and women affected by circumcision/mutilation, the females experience more detrimental affects, many going into shock, hemorrhaging, or gaining severe psychological issues. FGM is motivated by a desire to keep girls "pure" in African cultures and faithful (the logic being that they don't enjoy sex anymore, so they won't seek out another partner). MGC is not aimed at inhibiting a man's sexuality, and therefore while it does affect the rest of his life, it does not affect it to the extent which female victims of FGM experience. Both are crucial issues, however, and both infringe on a child's individual rights and freedom. One, though, is more pressing than the other, because one's long-term effects seem to be more severe.

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    1. No. there is no ONE against the Male Genital Mutilation. people only oppose to circumcise baby boys not adults. but female circumcision is banned for anyone even adult women are not allowed to do it. beside if female circumcision can be done with trained surgeons plus using anesthetic it wouldn't be barbaric as much as like the Feminists whine.

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    2. i don't see female circumcision as anymore barbaric as male circumcision. I don't think men should be push to the side to just address womens issues. there are long term effects that men can go threw from circumcision. also saying one is less severe because they were to young to remember is idiotic. if a woman cant remember her rape is it still less of a crime? Female circumcision is done for the same supposed reasons as male. its not all about oppressing women.

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  4. My post was to demonstrate how values determine whether research and funding is devoted to find health benefits to genital cutting, and how cultural values determine this issue. It was not a treatise on the severity of the practice. Its not meant to minimize FGM but nor should MGM be minimized either.

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  5. Female Circumcision isn't actually barbaric like Male Circumcision. because a man loses a lot of meat with MGM but women don't.
    and it leads to reduce the sensitivity up to 40% beside a man has only penis to achieve the sexual gratification where a woman can use his clit,g-sop,nipples etc.. so Male circumcision is indeed barbaric and worse than Female Circumcision as I believe.

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  6. Great post. Western medicine is totally biased on this subject. They like to hide behind the pretense of Science and Objectivity, while raking in a billion plus dollars a year through MGM.

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  7. Why do "researchers" continue to conduct "studies" to "find" the so-called "benefits" of male circumcision? And to "prove" that male circumcision is "harmless?"

    Because they have sold the dubious premise that a practice is morally justified, or morally reprehensible based on the outcome of some "study."

    Johnsdotter and Catania found that female circumcision isn't as catastrophic as anti-FGM activists would like others to believe. Contrary to popular belief, it is not necessary to have a clitoris to achieve orgasm and/or a fulfilling sex life.

    Are FGM advocates ready to change their tune?

    No. And rightly so.

    Johnsdotter warns of the perils of relying on "research" to determine the acceptability or rejectability of a practice. She and others are finding that female circumcision isn't as bad as FGM advocates tell others in order to gain support in their efforts to eradicate the practice.

    But here is the twist; Johnsdotter is against FGM.

    We have got to abandon the idea that genital cutting, male or female, can be justified or condemned based on "research."

    The principle of forcibly cutting the genitals of a healthy, non-consenting person is morally reprehensible no matter how much "research" shows "harmlessness" or "benefit."

    There would never be enough "research" to condone the genital cutting of women; it should strike people as odd that officials at a world government organization are giving credibility to all of this circumcision-prevents-HIV mumbo-jumbo.

    Read more here:
    http://joseph4gi.blogspot.jp/2013/02/politically-correct-research-when.html

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  8. Any organization in Toronto Ontario to be part o this salvation program,. volunteers etc.

    Ernesto Fuenmayor
    1002-1202 York Mills Road
    Toronto-Ontrio M3 1Y1

    ReplyDelete
  9. There is also this Kenyan study finding that circumcised women have a reduced risk of HIV infection:

    http://scholarworks.gsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1113&context=iph_theses

    -Tamen

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