About two months ago a German court ruled that circumcisions for religious reasons constitute illegal bodily harm to newborn babies and that the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents."
Beyond the knee-jerk responses accusing the Germans of anti-Semitism, the latest developments obligate us to reexamine the bris (circumcision ritual).
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It is time to replace the fear and ignorance surrounding the subject - due to its religious-traditional roots and due to the fact that it has become the norm – with educated dialogue that will bring about cultural progress.
The following are eight reasons why the circumcision ritual should be abolished:
1. A whole member is more natural. Males and females are born with foreskin.
2. A whole member is more pleasurable. The foreskin is the most sexually sensitive part of the penis. Like the tips of the fingers and the lips, the foreskin contains a high concentration of blood cells and sensory nerve endings. The foreskin protects the glans and keeps its surface soft, moist, and sensitive.
3. A whole member is more protected. During infancy, the foreskin protects the glans of the penis and the urethra from irritation and infections. When the foreskin is removed, the glans and urethra are exposed to abrasion that can eventually cause scarring and urination problems. Ten out of every 100 circumcised children will have to undergo surgery to expand the opening of the urethra.
4. A whole penis is more common throughout the world. Some 80% of men are not circumcised (close to 100% in Europe, not including Jews and Muslims). In Israel, more and more parents are leaving their children's members whole due to the massive amount of information that is available on the Internet on the subject.
5. A whole penis is more humane. Parents who do not circumcise their child spare him of a host of painful experiences: The pain of the knife cutting through the flesh and the pain of an open, bleeding wound which takes 7-10 days to heal. The trauma of the pain is etched in the infant's mind and affects the way he reacts to pain in the future.
6. A whole penis is safer. Each year hundreds of babies are rushed to the emergency room due to various complications related to the removal of the foreskin: Constant hemorrhaging that requires surgical intervention or an infusion due to the massive loss of blood; dangerous infections; a distortion of the penis; pain during erection and more.
7. Parents who leave their baby's penis whole are respecting their child's basic right to grow up with a whole body, with the whole penis he was born with. Due to the availability of information on the subject, more and more men are aware of the irreversible emotional damage circumcision has caused them and feel violated.
8. A whole member is more ethical. A surgical procedure is considered justifiable – from a medical standpoint – when it meets two conditions: A - It is performed to treat a medical condition, disease or injury. B - It is the least invasive treatment available. Obviously, circumcision does not meet either requirement, as the procedure is performed on healthy babies.
In summation, I predict that within a few years the fear and ignorance in Israel will be replaced by a social pact to protect babies' members, allowing the country to take a great cultural leap forward and join the rest of the sane world which leaves its children's penises whole. Why do I believe this will happen? Simply because a whole penis is better than one that has been cut.
Eran Sadeh is the founder of the Protect the Child website