A look into the difference between male and female circumcision (or female genital mutilation).
Male Circumcision is becoming more controversial because like with female circumcision, the male generally has no choice (as the procedure is performed during the first two weeks after birth.) Male circumcision dates back to the early times of the Egyptians and it is an important part of faith for Jewish and Muslim families.
In America, circumcisions began as a symbol of wealth because wealth was associated with cleanliness – and circumcisions were thought to help keep the penis cleaner. During World Wars I and II, circumcisions were required by the military. This is due to the fact that soldiers in the war had little chance of access to clean water and therefore it was nearly impossible to maintain a healthy, clean penis. Later studies began to pop up detailing the advantages for men who were circumcised which lead to its popularity in the United States. It became tradition for men to want their boys circumcised, just as they were and just like their fathers were.
Ultimately, male circumcision is a choice of the parents because circumcision later on in life will only lead to serious complications. In more recent years, male circumcision has fallen in numbers due to individuals questioning its effectiveness and its true purpose.
As with male circumcision, female circumcision is done without the consent of the individual. While male circumcision is generally done by a medical professional (especially in the United States,) and performed using sterile medical utensils with pain killers and anesthetics, female circumcision is not. Male circumcision is performed during the first two weeks following birth, while female circumcision can be performed at any age.
Female circumcision goes by name names: female genital mutilation (FGM) as well as female genital cutting or female genital mutilation/cutting, in addition to female circumcision.
Female circumcision generally is performed by another female who is following in tradition. There are no medical benefits to female circumcision. Those who perform the procedure generally have no medical experience and do not use any pain killers or anesthetics during the procedure.
This particular procedure is heavily practiced in Africa and the Middle East. According to the World Health Organization (or WHO,) female genital mutilation “comprises [of] all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.” They continue on to explain that the practice “is recognized internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women.”
It seems as though female circumcision is to prevent sexual promiscuity by removing the organs in the female body that cause pleasure during sex. It is also argued by practicing groups to help keep their women pure by forcing them to abstain from sexual activities and promote virginity.
While there are a few similarities (such as both procedures often being done without the consent of the individual in question) – male circumcision was promoted for the general health of the penis, whereas female circumcision has no health benefits whatsoever and generally leads to serious complications later in life (such as severe infections and complications with pregnancy and birthing which may ultimately lead to death.)
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World Health Organization; “Female Genital Mutilation”
Elizabeth Pantley; Gentle Baby Care; “To Circumcise or Not to Circumcise?”
Frances A. Althaus; “Female Circumcision: Rite of Passage or Violation of Rights?”