To: <email@example.com>, <FGMstudygroup@who.int>
Mr Christopher Powell
WHO/Family and Community Health
Telephone: +41 22 791 2888
Mobile: +41 79 217 3425
WHO FGM study group
Telephone: + 41 22 791 3374
Fax: +41 22 791 4171
I am happy to see that progress has been made in research on FGM and I hope
that this helps overcome cultural resistance to protecting the human rights
of girls to bodily integrity.
My question is, when will WHO and the rest of the world grant equal research
time and dollars and equal genital protection for boys? You may not have
heard that boys are human too, and have equal human rights with girls. Our
problem is not FGM, it is HGM, Human Genital Mutilation. To deny this is to
violate the human rights of and commit sexual violence against half of the
human population, the male half, and to display one's anti-male sexism. Boys
are killed by circumcision too, and a lot more of them than girls because so
many more boys than girls are mutilated.
I look forward to the day when your last paragraph reads, "The authors of
the study say that this new evidence is of crucial importance to communities
where HGM is practiced, both for the men and women who have had HGM and to
protect future generations of men, women, boys and girls from HGM. HGM
remains a pressing human rights issue and reliable evidence regarding its
harmful effects, both for fathers, mothers and their babies, should
contribute to the abandonment of the practice. WHO is committed to work with
international partners and countries to eliminate HGM. It is in direct
violation of human rights, has both short-term and long-term adverse health
consequences, and is an unnecessary procedure."
Van Lewis, Administrator
Ashley Montagu Resolution to End the Genital Mutilation of Children
A Petition to the World Court, the Haguehttp://MontaguNoCircPetition.org
... circumcision, an archaic ritual mutilation that has no justification
whatever and no place in a civilized society.
Ashley Montagu, Ph.D., (1905-1999), Anthropologist, "Humanist of the Year",
Concluding his 1991 essay, "Mutilated Humanity"http://nocirc.org/symposia/second/montagu.html
I'm against it.
George Wald, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine (1967)
In his 1975 essay, "Circumcision". Seehttp://StopInfantCircumcision.org/crick-wald.htm
... you may add my name to those opposed to the genital mutilations of
children worldwide and supportive of the Montagu Resolution.
Francis Crick, Ph.D., Nobel Laureate, Physiology or Medicine (1962)
Letter to James Prescott, April 1995.
You may add my name to those in support of the Montagu Resolution expressing
opposition to the genital mutilation of children.
Jonas Salk, M.D., Creator of the Salk polio vaccine
Letter to James Prescott, April 1995.
... I have endorsed the Montagu Petition.
Betty Williams, Nobel Peace Laureate (1976)
Web Endorsement of the Montagu Resolution, October 2005.
The greatest crime against humanity is the torture and mutilation of
children. Child abuse and neglect, particularly in its extreme forms,
represents a form of torture and mutilation. Not commonly recognized as
child abuse and neglect and a form of torture and mutilation is the ritual
mutilation of genitals of children (male and female). One reason for the
non-recognition of these crimes of genital mutilation and torture is their
common occurrence and their support by religious and social traditions of
various kinds. Another reason is the denial and/or indifference to the pain
that is being inflicted upon these children.
James Prescott, Ph.D., Neuropsychologist, Cross-Cultural Psychologist,
Author of the Montagu Resolution
Institute of Humanistic Science http://violence.de
Just because people don't want to hear the message the first time
doesn't mean they're not going to get it eventually.
Marilyn Milos, R.N., Founder, National Organization of
Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NoCirc)http://NoCirc.org
The obscure we see eventually,
the completely apparent takes longer.
Edward R. Murrow
I and the public know
What all school children learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.
W. H. Auden, in "September 1, 1939"
First they ignore you,
then they laugh at you,
then they fight you,
then you win.
All truth passes through three stages.
First, it is ridiculed.
Second, it is violently opposed.
Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 - 1860)
A man uncircumcised in the flesh desires to lie with a beautiful-looking
woman who speaks seductively to attract him. He vexes his mind to be with
her day after day, growing weary in his attempt to fulfil his desire through
lovemaking with her. She too will court the man who is
uncircumcised in the flesh and lie against his breast with great passion,
for he thrusts inside her a long time because of his foreskin, which is a
barrier against ejaculation in intercourse. Thus she feels pleasure and
reaches an orgasm first. When an uncircumcised man sleeps with her, and then
resolves to return to his home, she brazenly grabs him, holding on to his
genitals and says to him, "Come back, make love to me." This is because of
the pleasure that she finds in intercourse with him, from the sinews of his
testicles--sinew of iron--and from his ejaculation--that of a horse which he
shoots like an arrow into her womb. They are united without separating, and
he makes love twice and three times in one night, yet the appetite is not
filled. And so he acts with her night after night. The sexual
activity emaciates him of his bodily fat, and afflicts his flesh, and he
devotes his brain entirely to women, an evil thing. His heart dies within
him; between her legs he sinks and falls. He is unable to see the light of
the King's face, because the eyes of the intellect are plastered over by
women so that they cannot now see light. But when a circumcised man
desires the beauty of a woman, and cleaves to his wife, or to another woman
comely in appearance, he will find himself performing his task quickly,
emitting his seed as soon as he inserts his crown. If he lies with her once,
he sleeps satisfied, and will not know her again for another seven days.
This is the way a circumcised man acts time after time with the woman he
loves. He has an orgasm first; he does not hold back his strength. As soon
as he begins intercourse, he immediately comes to a climax. She has
no pleasure from him when she lies down on when she arises, and it would be
better for her if he had not known her and not drawn near to her, for he
arouses her passsion to no avail, and she remains in a state of desire for
her husband, ashamed and confounded, while the seed is still in her
"reservoir." She does not have an orgasm once a year except on rare
occasions, because of the great heat and the fire burning within her. Thus
he who says "I am the Lord's" will not empty his brain because of his wife
or the wife of his friend. He will find grace and good favor; his heart will
be strong to seek out God. he will not fear to behold that which is beyond,
and when He speaks to him, he will not turn away.
Rabbi Isaac ben Yedaiah of Southern France, late 13th century
Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my
opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a
weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and
the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought that
circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally. This gave the
possibility to everyone to raise an objection and to say: How can natural
things be defective so that they need to be perfected from outside, all the
more because we know how useful the foreskin is for that member? In fact
this commandment has not been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is
defective congenitally, but to perfecting what is defective morally. The
bodily pain caused to that member is the real purpose of circumcision. None
of the activities necessary for the preservation of the individual is harmed
thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible, but violent concupiscence
and lust that goes beyond what is needed are diminished. The fact that
circumcision weakens the faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps
diminishes the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has been
made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from it, it must
indubitably be weakened. The Sages, may their memory be blessed, have
explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an uncircumcised man has
had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my opinion this is the
strongest of the reasons for circumcision. ... According to me circumcision
has another very important meaning, namely, that all people professing this
opinion-that is, those who believe in the unity of God-should have a bodily
sign uniting them so that one who does not belong to them should not be able
to claim that he was one of them, while being a stranger. For he would do
this in order to profit by them or to deceive the people who profess this
religion. Now a man does not perform this act upon himself or upon a son of
his unless it be in consequence of a genuine belief. For it is not like an
incision in the leg or a burn in the arm, but is a very, very hard thing. It
is also well known what degree of mutual love and mutual help exists between
people who all bear the same sign, which forms for them a sort of covenant
and alliance. Circumcision is a covenant made by Abraham our Father with a
view to the belief in the unity of God. Thus everyone who is circumcised
joins Abraham's covenant. This covenant imposes the obligation to believe in
the unity of God: To be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. This
also is a strong reason, as strong as the first, which may be adduced to
account for circumcision; perhaps it is even stronger than the first. The
perfection and perpetuation of this Law can only be achieved if circumcision
is performed in childhood. For this there are three wise reasons. The first
is that if the child were let alone until he grew up, he would sometimes not
perform it. The second is that a child does not suffer as much pain as a
grown-up man because his membrane is still soft and his imagination weak;
for a grown-up man would regard the thing, which he would imagine before it
occurred, as terrible and hard. The third is that the parents of a child
that is just born take lightly matters concerning it, for up to that time
the imaginative form that compels the parents to love it is not yet
consolidated. For this imaginative form increases through habitual contact
and grows with the growth of the child. Then it begins to decrease and to
disappear, I refer to this imaginative form. For the love of the father and
of the mother for the child when it has just been born is not like their
love for it when it is one year old, and their love for it when it is one
year old is not like their love when it is six years old. Consequently if it
were left uncircumcised for two or three years, this would necessitate the
abandonment of circumcision because of the father's love and affection for
it. At the time of its birth, on the other hand, this imaginative form is
very weak, especially as far as concerns the father upon whom this
commandment is imposed. ... The fact that circumcision is performed on the
eighth day is due to the circumstance that all living beings are very weak
and exceedingly tender when they are born, as if they were still in the
womb. This is so until seven days are past. It is only then that they are
counted among those who have contact with the air. Do you not see that this
point is also taken into account with regard to beasts ?‹Seven days shall it
be with its dam, and so on. It is as if before that period it were an
abortion. Similarly with regard to man; he is circumcised after seven days
have passed. In this way the matter is fixed: You do not make out of it
something that varies. This class of commandments also includes the
prohibition against mutilating the sexual organs of all the males of
animals, which is based on the principle of righteous statutes and
judgments, I mean the principle of keeping the mean in all matters; sexual
intercourse should neither be excessively indulged, as we have mentioned,
nor wholly abolished. Did He not command and say: Be fruitful and multiply?
Accordingly this organ is weakened by means of circumcision, but not
extirpated through excision. What is natural is left according to nature,
but measures are taken against excess. He that is wounded in the stones or
hath his privy member cut off is forbidden to marry a woman of Israel, for
such cohabitation would be perverted and aimless. Such a marriage would
likewise be a stumbling block for the woman and for him who seeks her out.
This is very clear.
Moses Maimonides (1135-1204), also known as the "Rambam",
a medieval Jewish rabbi, physician and philosopher,
in The Guide of the Perplexed, Part III, Chapter 49,
I only wish that those troublemakers who want to mutilate you by
would mutilate [or castrate] themselves.
St. Paul, Galatians 5:12
And now are you going to correct God by burdening the Gentiles
with a yoke that neither we nor our fathers were able to bear?
St. Peter, Acts 15:10
I have done one work, and ye all marvel. Moses therefore gave unto you
circumcision; (not because it is of Moses, but of the fathers
and ye on
the sabbath day circumcise a man. If a man on the sabbath day receive
circumcision, that the law of Moses should not be broken; are ye angry at
me, because I have made a man every whit whole on the sabbath day? Judge not
according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
Jesus of Nazareth, John 7: 21-24
We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.
Do not believe in traditions simply because they have been handed down for
Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.
Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your
Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and
But when, after observation and analysis, you find anything that agrees with
and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all,
then accept it and live up to it.
Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha
Published in The Lancet
New study shows female genital mutilation exposes women and babies to
significant risk at childbirth
2 JUNE 2006 | GENEVA -- A new study published by the World Health
Organization (WHO) has shown that women who have had Female Genital
Mutilation (FGM) are significantly more likely to experience difficulties
during childbirth and that their babies are more likely to die as a result
of the practice.
Serious complications during childbirth include the need to have a caesarean
section, dangerously heavy bleeding after the birth of the baby and
prolonged hospitalization following the birth. The study showed that the
degree of complications increased according to the extent and severity of
:: More on female genital mutilation
:: Fact sheet: Female genital mutilation
In the case of caesarean section, women who have been subjected to the most
serious form of FGM ("FGM III") will have on average 30 per cent more
caesarean sections compared with those who have not had any FGM. Similarly
there is a 70 per cent increase in numbers of women who suffer from
postpartum haemorrhage in those with FGM III compared to those women without
"As a result of this study we have, for the first time, evidence that
deliveries among women who have been subject to FGM are significantly more
likely to be complicated and dangerous," said Joy Phumaphi, Assistant
Director-General, Family and Community Health, WHO. " FGM is a practice
steeped in culture and tradition but it should not be allowed to carry on.
We must support communities in their efforts to abandon the practice and to
improve care for those who have undergone FGM. We must also steadfastly
resist the medicalization of FGM. WHO is totally opposed to FGM being
carried out by medical personnel."
The study also found that FGM put the women's babies in substantial danger
during childbirth. Researchers found there was an increased need to
resuscitate babies whose mother had had FGM (66% higher in women with FGM
III). The death rate among babies during and immediately after birth is also
much higher for those born to mothers with FGM: 15% higher in those with FGM
I, 32% higher in those with FGM II, and 55% higher in those with FGM III. It
is estimated that in the African context an additional 10 to 20 babies die
per 1000 deliveries as a result of the practice.
"This research was carried out in hospitals where the obstetric staff are
used to dealing with women who have undergone FGM. The consequences for the
countless women and babies who deliver at home without the help of
experienced staff are likely to be even worse," added WHO's Dr Paul Van
Look, Director of the Special Programme for Human Reproduction Research
(HRP) which organized the study.
The study involved 28,393 women at 28 obstetric centres in six countries,
where FGM is common - Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal and
Sudan. The centres varied from relatively isolated rural hospitals to
teaching hospitals in capital cities. They were chosen to provide
appropriate diversity of types of FGM.
"These findings are of great importance for countries," said Professor Saad
M El Fadil, the study Principal Investigator in Sudan. "This high-quality
research was carried out in numerous hospitals in African countries where
FGM is common and for the first time gives clear evidence of its harmful
effects for women and babies."
FGM is a common practice in a number of countries, predominantly in Africa.
It involves partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or
other deliberate injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or
non- therapeutic reasons. Over 100 million women and girls are estimated to
have had FGM worldwide.
Although practices vary from country to country, FGM is generally performed
on girls under 10 years of age and leads to varying amounts of scar
formation. It is not entirely clear why FGM leads to increased complications
during childbirth, but one possible explanation is that this scar tissue is
relatively inelastic and can lead to obstruction and tearing of the tissues
around the vagina during childbirth. Obstruction can lead to prolonged
labour, which increases the risk of caesarean section, heavy bleeding,
distress in the infant and stillbirth. Women with FGM are also more likely
to undergo episiotomy (surgical cut during delivery to prevent vaginal
According to Associate Professor Emily Banks of the Australian National
University, "This study shows that where around 5.0% of babies born to women
without FGM were stillborn or died shortly after delivery, this figure
increased to 6.4% in babies born to women with FGM. In many parts of Africa
death rates are even higher and the impact of FGM is likely to be even
The authors of the study say that this new evidence is of crucial importance
to communities where FGM is practiced, both for the women who have had FGM
and to protect future generations of women and girls from FGM. FGM remains a
pressing human rights issue and reliable evidence regarding its harmful
effects, both for mothers and their babies, should contribute to the
abandonment of the practice. WHO is committed to work with international
partners and countries to eliminate FGM. It is in direct violation of young
girls¹ rights, has both short-term and long-term adverse health
consequences, and is an unnecessary procedure.
*Note: Female genital mutilation (FGM), often referred to as 'female
circumcision', covers all procedures involving partial or total removal of
the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs
whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons. There are
different types of female genital mutilation known to be practised today.
€ Type I (FGM 1) - excision of the prepuce, with or without excision
of part or all of the clitoris;
€ Type II (FGM II) - excision of the clitoris with partial or total
excision of the labia minora;
€ Type III (FGM III) - excision of part or all of the external
genitalia and stitching/narrowing of the vaginal opening (infibulation)
For further information please contact:
Mr Christopher Powell
WHO/Family and Community Health
Telephone: +41 22 791 2888
Mobile: +41 79 217 3425
WHO FGM study group
Telephone: + 41 22 791 3374
Fax: +41 22 791 4171