Human rights activists have presented their arguments to explain why circumcision should be outlawed. This practice has catalyzed a debate that continues to affect the decisions made by many parents, religious leaders, and healthcare professionals. This paper describes whether the practice is a human or medical rights issue. It also explains why many people are against circumcision.
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Medical or Human Rights Issue
Morris, Krieger, and Klausner (2016) define “circumcision” as a procedure undertaken to remove the foreskin at the tip of the penis. This practice has been viewed differently by healthcare professionals, religious leaders, and human rights activists. In 1948, the United Nations (UN) adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in an attempt to outline various rights that outweigh cultural, religious, and local traditions. Some of them include the security of global citizens and the right to life (Morris et al., 2016). This understanding has been used by many ethicists to explain why circumcision should be analyzed as a human rights issue. Darby (2015) argues that this issue has been studied from a medical perspective for many decades. The reason for this was that the health benefits of circumcision were believed to overshadow its risks. Many proponents of the practice have argued that it has minimal complications when done hygienically.
Several organizations, such as the Royal Dutch Medical Association and the British Medical Association, have issued statements on the practice. According to them, circumcision is a process that should be outlawed since it results in bodily harm (Darby, 2016). It is also known to violate the integrity of the human body. Borrowing a lot from the above declaration adopted by the UN, many scholars and human rights activists have argued that the practice should be prohibited in every society (Morris et al., 2016). They have also referenced several historical documents to explain why circumcision should only be pursued for religious purposes.
In 1989, the UN passed the Convention on the Rights of the Child in order to protect young children from any form of abuse, including forced circumcision. The argument behind this pronunciation is that boys should not go through non-therapeutic circumcision (Morris et al., 2016). The same idea has been used by many human rights activists to explain why young girls should be protected from female genital mutilation (FGM).
According to Darby (2015), the absence of a scientific consensus on the risks and health benefits of circumcision has made it hard for activists to speak against it. Since the World Health Organization (WHO) has continued to support the practice by identifying various health benefits, many human rights organizations have been outmatched by medical experts and professionals. Towards the future, those who are against this human rights malpractice should focus on the tension between people’s bodily integrity privileges and the concept of informed consent. They should also examine the cultural and religious issues associated with circumstances in an attempt to develop a convincing message that can result in the illegalization of this malpractice.
Criticism of Circumcision
For very many years, circumcision has been embraced by many groups and societies for medical, religious, or cultural purposes. Some of the proponents of this practice believe that it decreases the risk of diseases such as HIV/AIDS, cervical cancer, and other sexually transmitted diseases. It is also thought to result in improved genital hygiene (Morris et al., 2016). Despite these benefits, circumcision has remained a controversial topic that is not taken lightly by human rights activists and scholars.
Several reasons can be presented to explain why many people are against the practice. The first one is that it causes pain and makes it impossible for every targeted person to lead a comfortable life. The second argument has been that the unique health benefits associated with the practice have not been defined by medical organizations and health practitioners. Darby (2016) goes further to indicate that circumcision can result in complications, including infection, bleeding, or prolonged healing.
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FGM is a contentious issue that attracts the attention of many activists and researchers. They acknowledge that malpractice affects the experiences and lives of many young girls. Some have gone further to use the example of FGM to explain why any form of circumcision should be outlawed. The human rights aspect has also been outlined by many people to explain why they are against this practice. From this analysis, it is evident that many individuals have been informed about the dangers and challenges arising from circumcision (Darby, 2015). These issues should be taken seriously by all societies and activists in order to protect more innocent citizens from non-therapeutic circumcision.
The above discussion has indicated that circumcision is a practice that is against the rights and freedoms of every global citizen. This is the case since it is done without the consent of the targeted people and results in bodily harm. Consequently, many individuals are against it and believe that it should be prohibited. These issues should, therefore, be taken seriously by all communities in order to protect every person’s rights.
Darby, R. (2015). Risks, benefits, complications and harms: Neglected factors in the current debate on nontherapeutic circumcision. Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, 25(1), 1-34.
Darby, R. (2016). Targeting patients who cannot object? Re-examining the case for non-therapeutic infant circumcision. Sage Open, 6(2), 1-16. Web.
Morris, B. J., Krieger, J. N., & Klausner, J. (2016). Critical evaluation of unscientific arguments disparaging affirmative infant male circumcision policy. World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics, 5(3), 251-261. Web.