Tuesday 14 June 2011

On Circumcision

In this piece, published in The Guardian in June 2011, my friend and colleague, Neil Howard, and I discuss male infant circumcision. We ask whether the differences between male and female circumcision are so straightforward as to justify a distinction in the law. The article was prompted by a bill in San Francisco in 2011 that proposed to outlaw the circumcising, cutting, or mutilation of the foreskin, testicles, or penis of another person aged under 18, with an exemption for cases of medical necessity, but not for custom or ritual. Unsurprisingly, the bill attracted considerable controversy at the time, primarily from feminists who objected to the idea of comparing male and female genital cutting, as well as from those who regard attempts to limit the practice of infant male circumcision as a modern manifestation of anti-Semitism. We explored some of these issues.