Circumcision is sometimes required for medical reasons - but a lot of young boys are subjected to it as either a religious rite of passage, or as a cosmetic surgery through which parents believe they will be doing their son a favour.
Locally, as far as I am aware at least, this type of surgical procedure isn't as common. In the US though, it seems to be the norm. This is my understanding from several discussions held over the years - both in jest and in seriousness - with friends all around the world. This map seems to confirm the theory:
In some cultures, males must be circumcised shortly after birth, during childhood, or around puberty as part of a rite of passage. Religious male circumcision is considered a commandment from God in Judaism. In Islam, though not discussed in the Qur'an, male circumcision is widely practised and most often considered to be a sunnah. It is also customary in some Christian churches in Africa.
There is strong evidence that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection in heterosexual men in populations that are at high risk. The World Health Organisation [WHO] currently recommends circumcision as part of a comprehensive program for prevention of HIV transmission in areas with high endemic rates of HIV.
Reading about it has made me cringe and mutter 'ouch' a few times in a really whiny tone. If you wish, you can clicky here to read up - but I don't suggest you do if you're easily impressed.
Earlier this year there has been some controversy raised in the states about whether Circumcision should be outlawed and classified as genital mutilation - even when it is for Religious reasons - or not. There are a number of ethical issues related to the topic. Let's have a look at a few:
- Infant circumcision infringes upon individual autonomy and represents a human rights violation.
- Using circumcision as a way of preventing HIV in high prevalence, low-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is controversial, but it has been argued that "it would be unethical to not seriously consider one of the most promising new approaches to HIV-prevention in the 25-year history of the epidemic"
- Some argue that the medical problems that have their risk reduced by circumcision are already rare, can be avoided, and, if they occur, can usually be treated in less invasive ways than circumcision.
- Circumcision may result in psychological harm, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Circumcision may affect the infact-mother bonding and trust-building process negatively.
- It is unclear what effects Circumcision has on one's sex life. It seems to be common belief that it leads to loss of sensitivity and therefore a reduction in pleasure, joweber it has not been proven to be the case as of yet.
As of the early 1900s, in the US, Circumcision became accepted for non-religious purposes, however why, is still unclear. In an increasing germ phobic society, the penis became "dirty" by association with its function, and from this premise circumcision was seen as preventative medicine to be practised universally. Many practitioners at the time thought circumcision was a method of treating and preventing masturbation. In truth, none of these reasons are valid. Most parents who decide to snippety-snip their son's foreskin nowadays do it so that the boy can be like his father/other malte family members, if they happen to be cicumcised - or out of being under the wrong impression that being circumcised means the child will be 'cleaner' and less likely to get Urinary Tract Infections [UTI] and other uncomfortable ilnesses.
Ultimately, some males choose to undergo this operation themselves just because they think that being circumcised will make their penis look bigger.
At the end of the day. whatever choice you, as parents, make, it should be an informed decision. I personally don't think it is fair to impose such a procedure on a child who cannot as yet speak for himself.