Q25. Why is circumcision so controversial?

A25. There are several reasons for this.

To start with there are the religious and cultural reasons for this practice which some people find difficult to accept. Both the Jewish and Islamic faiths practise circumcision as a statement of faith and belonging. This has been performed over thousands of years and whilst there are people within these faiths who choose not to undergo it, there are others who are strongly in favour of it.

There are also certain African communities who use circumcision as a rite of passage for both boys and girls. They view this as a marker of adulthood and their new status.

It is also seen as an act of cleanliness and protection against disease and infection. In girls it is viewed as a way of ensuring that they are pure on their wedding night.

But opponents of this are calling for a worldwide ban, claiming that this is a cruel and dangerous procedure which causes long term damage - both physically and mentally. They argue that it is a breach of human rights and unnecessary.

With religion, critics argue that babies are unable to decide for themselves or have any say in the matter. They are effectively forced into circumcision against their will and may regret this when they are older.

Medical experts argue that it is not necessary and confers no real benefits. Some claim that it can cause sexual problems later on in life which can prove to be damaging.

These and other arguments are discussed further in circumcise or not to circumcise? section.


FAQS Index : A guide to Vasectomy

Circumcision FAQs

  1. What is circumcision?
  2. Can men be circumcised?
  3. Is circumcision only performed for religious reasons?
  4. Is circumcision painful?
  5. Are only boys and men circumcised?
  6. What is female circumcision?
  7. Should I have my son circumcised?
  8. Will having a circumcision affect my sex life?
  9. How safe is circumcision?
  10. Does circumcision mean that the penis is easier to clean?
  11. Is circumcision needed?
  12. Is circumcision needed if my son’s foreskin doesn’t retract?
  1. Does circumcision protect you against disease?
  2. What is ‘frenulum breve?’
  3. What is ‘phimosis?’
  4. What is ‘paraphimosis?
  5. What is ‘balanitis?’
  6. What does the surgery involve?
  7. How long does circumcision take?
  8. What are the risks of circumcision?
  9. How long does the recovery take?
  10. Will I have to take time off work?
  11. When can my son return to school following his circumcision?
  12. Can a circumcision be reversed?
  13. Why is circumcision so controversial?

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