Circumcision, public health, genital autonomy and cultural rights

Matthew T Johnson (Editor), Megan O'Branski, Robert Van Howe, Susan Mendus, Martyn Griffin, J. Steven Svoboda, Sara Jonsdottir, Zachary T. Androus, Jennifer Coffman, Nicola L. Bulled, Louise Vincent, Maria Frederika Malmström, Debra L. Delaet, Geoffrey Brahm Levey, Ayelet Banai, Maria Kristiansen, Aziz Sheikh, Richard A. Shweder, Sydney Calkin, Richard MullenderSander L. Gilman, Marie Fox, Michael Thomson

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationSpecial issue


Circumcision is one of the oldest and most common surgical practices, being practised, for a range of medical, social and religious reasons, on up to 30% of males worldwide. At present, it is being promoted by a range of international health bodies, such as the World Health Organization, as a means of tackling HIV in developing countries. Yet, there is significant concern, both, about sexual, physiological and psychological effects and complications and the prophylactic effectiveness of the practice. In Western countries, in particular, a range of ‘intactivist’ organizations and campaign groups have emerged, drawing qualitative parallels with female genital cutting. For these groups, a right to bodily, or more specifically, genital integrity, is invoked to protect minors from invasive surgery. This movement has emerged at a time in which circumcision rates in states such as the US have declined and many medical bodies have sought either to exercise caution on claims of medical benefits, while deferring to parental choice in non-therapeutic instances, such as the British Medical Association (BMA),or to reject the practice in all but the most essential medical cases, such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG).
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages171
Specialist publicationGlobal Discourse
PublisherBristol University Press
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013


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