Saturday, February 8, 2014

AFRICA: Botwsana to Implement Controversial Infant Circumcision Devices


Circumcisionist Ambitions Realised
As if calling circumcision an HIV prevention method, and implementing "mass circumcision campaigns" in the so-called name of HIV prevention weren't controversial enough, Botswana is one of those countries whose medical authorities have been convinced to take it a step further, and start campaigns to circumcise newborn boys. Perhaps they see this as the next step, seeing as adult men aren't falling for the propaganda, and some countries, such as Japan, have begun to stop funding adult male circumcision programs?

It should be no surprise that babies are finally being targeted for circumcision under the pretext of HIV prevention. The justification of male infant circumcision is what circumcision "researchers" have been aiming for all along. Circumcision is not this medical "solution" that "researchers" supposedly "discovered" merely 30 years ago; the fight to justify male infant circumcision has been raging on since Greco-Roman rule.

Circumcision, particularly male infant circumcision, is a cherished tradition in Judaism, and it's a money-maker for American physicians. The goal isn't to stop HIV in Africa; the goal is, and has always been, to justify male infant circumcision in the US, and elsewhere. Circumcision "researchers" want for medical organizations, such as the AAP, to point to Africa and say "Male infant circumcision prevents HIV in Africa, therefore we recommend infant circumcision for American babies." Is it any wonder that much of the funding for "mass medical male circumcision," or any similar variant, happens to be American money?

Implementation of Controversial Infant Circumcision Devices
Circumcising male infants should be controversial enough, as amputative surgery in healthy, non-consenting minors is unethical. There goes the "voluntary" part of the so-called "Voluntary Medical Male Circumcision" slogan...

The plot should thicken when, not only are baby boys being circumcised, but they're being circumcised with controversial devices.

According to StarAfrica, the Botswana Ministry of Health has adopted the Mogen clamp and AccuCirc device, to be administered to healthy, non-consenting, non-sexually-active children. National coordinator Conrad Ntsuape told state-run Radio Botswana that the two devices were the best that Botswana opted for.

The following passage is disconcerting:
"Ntsuape noted that the entire procedure would be bloodless, requiring no anaesthesia, suturing or a sterile setting."
It sounds very similar to the lines of a certain Neil Pollock.

Of course there is no such thing as a "bloodless" circumcision, requiring no anaesthesia, nor a sterile setting. Even the latest AAP statement features a lengthy passage on adequate pain management for infants undergoing circumcision. A sterile setting is necessary to avoid infections, such as those with MRSA.

Let's continue further:
"Ntsuape said the decision to adopt the two devices followed a lengthy consultation process that focused on acceptability of infant male circumcision as part of HIV prevention and male reproductive health efforts that was conducted by Botswana and the United States through Harvard Institute in 2008."

Instead of the acceptability of male infant circumcision, shouldn't it have focused on other things? Like, for example, whether or not male infant circumcision is effective in reducing HIV? (There are no studies that exist on this subject, and world data shows that it does not.) Shouldn't there have been an actual evaluation of the risks involved, especially given the devices being considered?

"Ntsuape said the results of the survey indicated that 96 per cent of mothers in Botswana accepted early infant circumcision while the remaining four per cent were undecided or not interested."

Before considering what mothers have to say in a survey after being told that circumcision would prevent HIV in their sons, where is the proof that infant circumcision reduces HIV transmission? Were the risks of circumcision discussed with these mothers? Were the risks of each device disclosed to these mothers? Was the fact that circumcision cannot prevent HIV transmission, and therefore even circumcised men have to wear condoms discussed with the mothers?


What Botswana Circumcision Advocates May Not Tell Parents


The Mogen device being marketed here has a terrible track record for circumcision mishaps, including glans amputations. So infamous is the Mogen clamp for circumcision mishaps that numerous million-dollar lawsuits put the company out of business.



Common Mogen Problem: The circumciser is blind to the condition of the child's glans. Some or all of the glans is pulled up along with the foreskin, resulting in partial or full glans amputations.

What mothers have to say about circumcision has no bearing on the fact that there is no scientific evidence that circumcising newborns will prevent HIV transmission, but would the women in this survey answer the same, if they were given this information?

The AccuCirc device is a recent invention that doesn't have much of a history, not that it needs any, as we know its intended purpose of cutting off part of a healthy child's penis.


I hate discussing the better or worse of two evils, and discussing what is the "better" male infant circumcision method is no different than discussing which is the "better" female infant circumcision method. There simply isn't a "right" way to mutilate a perfectly healthy, non-consenting child. However, there is a good critique on why the AccuCirc is particularly terrible here.

Conflict of Interest

David R. Tomlinson
"Chief Expert on Circumcision," WHO
Inventor of AccuCirc

The citizens of Botswana may be interested to know that the inventor of the AccuCirc device also happens to be "chief expert on circumcision" at the World Health Organization. He develops, implements and evaluates male circumcision training programs in Africa, and he wrote the WHO's manual for male infant circumcision. (Reference here.) Is it any wonder that the AccuCirc device is included in many African "surveys?"

To Close
Adopting a device known to cause problems is not very wise, not to mention circumcising healthy, non-consenting newborns who are at zero risk for HIV transmission is ethically repugnant no matter what methods employed. Botswana is complicit in implementing what is effectively male infant genital mutilation, under the deceptive guise of HIV prevention.

Related Posts:
Circumcision Botches and the Elephant in the Room

The Ghost of Mogen

CINCINNATI: Intactivists Protest Circumcision "Experiment" at Good Samaritan Hospital

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