Armenian Reporter, The
A significant number of Armenians living in America are adopting the
practice of circumcision - a procedure that historically has not been a
custom among Christian Armenians. The following is an article based on the
review and analyses of books, research papers, articles, as well as
personal interviews with physicians, literary figures, human rights
activists, and members of the Armenian and Jewish communities. I also
collected data from day care centers and practicing Armenian pediatricians,
which revealed a 30-40% circumcision rate among Armenian children. (The
national incidence with U.S. males is 60%.).
The practice of circumcision among Armenians serves no religious purpose
and is mainly performed for "hygienic" reasons. Some parents have been
victims of negligent doctors who circumcised children at the hospitals
without the parents' informed consent. Others have been solicited by
hospital staff, and have fallen prey to the institution that promotes the
procedure for financial reasons.
Still other people in our community seem to want to assimilate to the
dominant American culture by "embracing its custom of circumcision. While
routine circumcision of male infants has been a much-debated issue in the
US. for many years, it is now being questioned in an unprecedented way.
Nonetheless, it remains an especially uncomfortable topic of discussion
among most Armenians: The subject of circumcision, however, is a rather
complex multidimensional social issue that ought to be discussed from the
perspective of history, culture, religion, and medicine. It is also a
sexual and human rights issue. In short, it requires the attention of
medical professionals, lawyers, educators, ethics scholars, and religious
leaders. Their collective knowledge and expertise would contribute a sound
foundation upon which we can begin raising awareness regarding this
controversial cultural introjection that has been neglected for far too
ORIGINS OF CIRCUMCISION
Despite the common belief that circumcision was invented by Jews, it is
known from history that it originated in different areas of Africa and
dates back at least 5,000 years, appearing in Egyptian representations of
Pharaonic times. Thus, both Jews and Arabs learned circumcision in Egypt.
An array of explanations for the motives behind the practice has been
offered by historians, anthropologists, and other scholars. As described in
Circumcision of Male Infants Research Paper (Queensland Law Reform
Commission. Brisbane, 1993), the roots and motives of circumcision are
barbaric and cruel. In fact, circumcision is believed to have been applied
as a castigatory measure, and as a mark of slavery. Some anthropologists
also speculate that circumcision is attenuation of human sacrifice,
relating it to the practice of cutting off the entire penis, which was
offered as a sacrifice to the gods, or were used as war trophies. Some
warriors offered the genitalia of their enemies as trophies to the girls
they chose to marry.
Other interpretations of the motives of the practice have been: rites of
passage, tribal integration; gender identity; desensitization of the sexual
organ to moderate sexual activity, and thus, to perfect morality; cultural
assimilation, as well as hygienic and medical reasons. I will narrow down
my discussion on the sexual aspect of the procedure, assimilation and
acculturation issues, as well as the claimed "hygienic" and "medical"
Moses Maimonides, the famed 12th-century Jewish rabbi, physician and
philosopher, wrote in his book The Guide of the Perplexed (University of
Chicago, 1963) Part III, Chapter 49, Page 609:
"... with regard to circumcision, one of the reasons for it is, in my
opinion, the wish to bring about a decrease in sexual intercourse and a
weakening of the organ in question, so that this activity be diminished and
the organ be in as quiet a state as possible. ... this commandment has not
been prescribed with a view to perfecting what is defective congenitally,
but to perfecting what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that
member is the real purpose of circumcision...The Sages, may their memory be
blessed, have explicitly stated: It is hard for a woman with whom an
uncircumcised man has had sexual intercourse to separate from him. In my
opinion this is the strongest of the reasons for circumcision."
MASTURBATION HYSTERIA IN THE VICTORIAN ERA
The non-religious practice of circumcision was introduced into secular
society and medically popularized in the U.S. and Britain over a century
ago in a period of time often retrospectively referred to as "the
masturbation hysteria." During my interview with Mark D. Reiss, MD, Vice
President of Doctors, Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.), he discussed the
origins of circumcision practice in the Victorian era, when it was falsely
thought that masturbation caused insanity, epilepsy, paralysis, bed
wetting, blindness, asthma, rheumatism, curvature of the spine, alcoholism
and criminality. By circumcising, Victorian doctors hoped to eliminate
these dreaded diseases and conditions. However, it is now known that
circumcision does not prevent masturbation, or the above-mentioned
conditions, but rather only serves to make sexual functioning more
MODERN PRACTICE OF CIRCUMCISION
In the early 20th century, circumcision was claimed to be more "hygienic"
and became a routine procedure in the U.S. and continued to increase after
the mass military circumcisions during WW I, and WW II, and the Vietnam
War. During this period, the incidence of circumcision was dramatically
increased and reached its peak in 1979, when 85-90% of American boys were
circumcised. Circumcision is far less common among other industrialized
countries, as well as in the non-Islamic regions of Asia (around 10-15%;
Circumcision Reference Library, 2003). The U.S. is the only country in the
world that routinely circumcises most of its male infants for nonreligious
reasons. Proponents of the procedure cite potential health benefits, such
as lowered risk of urinary tract infections (UTI), penile and cervical
cancer, human papilloma virus (HPV), as well as reduction of sexually
transmitted diseases (STDs).
Conversely, anti-circumcision activists oppose the removal of any healthy,
functional part of a human body as a means of disease control. Moreover,
the American Academy of Pediatrics states (1999) that "... these data are
not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision" and "...there is
no absolute medical indication for routine circumcision." Likewise, the
American Medical Association (Complete Medical Encyclopedia, 2003) states:
"There is no medical reason for routine circumcision of infants."
In fact, no medical organization in the world recommends routine
circumcision of infant boys. Many have specific statements arguing against
circumcision, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the British
Medical Association, as well as the medical associations of other European
countries, Canada, and Australia.
In the face of the absence of medical indication, circumcision practice
continues, and those who promote it certainly gain financially. The
American Academy of Pediatrics states that each year, "1.2 million newborn
males are circumcised in the United States annually at a cost of between
$150 and $270 million." That estimate does not include hospital and nursing
fees, medical supplies, and expenses that arise as the result of
complications. The primary beneficiary of circumcision, thus, is not the
child, not the parent, but the medical community, which is involved in a
lucrative multimillion-dollar business.
CIRCUMCISION AND HIV
The latest renewed attention toward the correlation between HIV/AIDS
epidemic and circumcision status comes at a time when claims for medical
benefits have been losing stance for decades. Studies claim that HIV
infection rates are much lower in some West African nations, where
circumcision is common, than in some South and East African nations, where
circumcision is rare. However, since most of the circumcised men in the
study are Muslim, it is unclear whether circumcision status or variables
like sexual behavioral patterns typical of Islam play a role in the
Secondly, the U.S. has one of the highest circumcision rates among the
industrialized nations and also the highest HIV rate. Obviously,
circumcision did not protect Americans from HIV infection. On the other
hand, circumcision rates are low in Europe, as are HIV infection rates.
The American Medical Association (Report on Neonatal Circumcision, online)
has stated, "Regardless of these findings, behavioral factors are far more
important risk factors for acquisition of HIV and other sexually
transmittable diseases than circumcision status, and circumcision cannot be
responsibly viewed as 'protecting' against such infections."
Marilyn Milos, the co-founder and director of National Organization of
Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC), wrote to me in her
email letter, "The scare tactics are always consistent with the dreaded
disease of the times." "There was a penile cancer scare in the '30s; a
cervical cancer scare in the '50s; and the sexually transmitted disease
scare of the '60s."
WHERE IS MY FORESKIN?
Does the foreskin have any function at all, or has evolution failed? Didn't
evolution determine that the male mammals' genitals be an internal and not
an external organ, sheathed in a protective foreskin? Is a foreskin just a
"dead piece of skin?" "Is it nature's defect?"
In his article "The Case against Circumcision" (Mothering Magazine, Winter
1997), Dr. Paul Fleiss writes that most American textbooks do not even
mention the foreskin and illustrate the human penis circumcised, as if that
is its natural state. "Millions of years of evolution have fashioned the
human body into a model of refinement, elegance, and efficiency, with every
part having a purpose," writes Dr. Fleiss. Furthermore, he explains that
the foreskin is an essential part of human sexual anatomy, containing
greater concentration of blood vessels and nerve endings than any part of
penis. The foreskin, he explains, is a uniquely specialized, sensitive, and
functional erogenous organ of touch. The foreskin removed by circumcision
represents about 80% (depending on the circumcising doctor) of the penile
skin. Dr. Fleiss concludes that circumcision denudes, desensitizes, and
disables the penis. It also destroys nature's design of the double-layered
sheath that facilitates the "gliding mechanism" during intercourse.
Garry Harryman, the coordinator for the Southern California chapter of the
National Association of Restoring Men, writes in his article titled "What
is Lost to Circumcision": "Contrary to pseudo-medical myth, the natural
penis with its foreskin intact is not defective or dangerous and does not
require urgent surgical correction. Through four thousand millennia of
trial and error, Nature has perfected human sexuality as a physical
collaboration between two exquisitely complementary designs. The vagina was
not designed to accommodate a dry, keratinized, and immobile penis."
He calls circumcision a "mutilating radical sexual surgery euphemistically
called 'male circumcision.'"
"[Infant] circumcision requires that the surgeon tear the skin from the
sensitive glans to permit removal." Dr. George Denniston, President of
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (D.O.C.), explains in his interview, "As a
result, scarring occurs, the surface of the glans thickens, and
keratinization occurs." Dr. Denniston's advice is to leave the foreskin to
fulfill its several functions. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics
pamphlet on "Care of the Uncircumcised Penis; Guidelines for Parents,"
"Care of the uncircumcised boy is quite easy. "Leave it alone" is good
External washing and rinsing on a daily basis is all that is required. Do
not retract the foreskin in an infant, as it is almost always attached to
the glans. Forcing the foreskin back may harm the penis, causing pain,
bleeding, and possibly adhesions. The natural separation of the foreskin
from the glans may take many years."
Many parents, whom I talked to explain their choice of circumcision with
claims of "cleanliness." However, what makes us humans think that part of
our body is not clean, and needs further modification? In the
above-mentioned article, Dr. Fleiss writes:
"The white emollient under the child's skin is called smegma. Smegma is
probably the most misunderstood, most unjustifiably maligned substance in
nature. Smegma is clean, not dirty, and is beneficial and necessary. It
moisturizes the glans and keeps it smooth, soft, and supple. Its
antibacterial and antiviral properties keep the penis clean and healthy.
Forcibly retracting and washing a baby's foreskin destroys the beneficial
bacterial flora that protect the penis from harmful germs and can lead to
irritation and infection. The child's foreskin, like his eyelids, is
In fact, according to Dr. Denniston, the foreskin is there to protect the
glans from the exposure of feces and urine in the infancy. With
circumcision this protection is gone.
"Penile hygiene will later become a part of a child's total body hygiene,"
the American Academy of Pediatrics states, "including hair shampooing,
cleansing the folds of the ear, and brushing teeth. At puberty, the male
should be taught the importance of retracting the foreskin and cleaning
beneath during his daily bath."
As with all kinds of surgery, circumcision has some risks. Here are some of
the complications of circumcision from the report of the American Medical
"Bleeding and infection, occasionally leading to sepsis, are the most
common adverse events requiring treatment" reads the report. "Other
untoward events can result from taking too much skin from the penile shaft
causing denudation or rarely, concealed penis. Other postoperative
complications include formation of skin bridges between the penile shaft
and glans, meatitis and meatal stenosis, chordee, inclusion cysts in the
circumcision line, lymphedema, hypospadias and epispadias, and urinary
retention. Case reports have associated circumcision with other rare but
severe events including scalded skin, necrotizing fasciitis, sepsis and
meningitis, urethrocutaneous fistulas, necrosis (secondary to
cauterization), and partial amputation of the glans penis."
There is no data as to how many deaths a year occur as the result of
circumcision. "Circumcision kills an unknown number of U.S. infants every
year," writes Gary Harryman. "The cause of these deaths," he continues, "is
a fact the billion-dollar-per-year circumcision industry willfully obscures
and conceals...Every year boys lose their penises altogether from 'botched
circumcisions.' They are then 'sexually reassigned' by transgender surgery
and must live their lives as females." Obviously, any potential benefits of
circumcision are far outweighed by its risks and drawbacks.
Dr. Vigen Zargarian, an Iranian-Armenian pediatrician in practice for 27
years, has dealt with the circumcision issue throughout his long experience
in pediatrics. "I have seen many circumcision procedures performed both in
Iran and the U.S.," explains Dr. Zargarian in his interview. "I have seen a
child die in 24 hours from gangrene and sepsis caused by necrotizing
fasciitis (flesh-eating bacteria), right in front of my eyes."
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS
Most parents are ill informed about the short-term and long-term effects of
circumcision on the child. Dr. Zargarian explained how the typical
circumcision procedure is carried out in American hospitals. "As usually
performed without analgesia, circumcision is very painful," says Dr.
Zargarian. "In fact, children feel excruciating pain, and local anesthetics
are not effective enough," he explains. "This procedure is agonizing; the
powerless child is taken away from his parents, stripped naked, and put on
a 'circumstraint' board. His arms and legs are fastened tightly with
straps. The whole scene looks like a crucifixion." In fact, research shows
that, during circumcision, the infant "withdraws into a state of neurogenic
shock (coma), due to sudden massive pain," which in fact is misinterpreted
as being "quiet" or "falling asleep." (Dr. George Denniston, Circumcision
"Parents should know what lies ahead for their tiny infant," insists Dr.
Zargarian, "and the best way to educate them about this procedure is to
have them watch a video." (The two films that are highly recommended are:
"It's a Boy!" and Whose Body, Whose Rights) However, the idea of observing
a circumcision is not acceptable to many parents. Meanwhile, the baby has
to undergo a procedure his own parents cannot stand to watch. "If parents
have a chance to ever observe the procedure," Dr. Zargarian adds, "I am
almost certain that they will not let their child go through it."
Circumcision Resource Center (Mothers who Observed Circumcision) reports
the numerous testimonies of mothers who have observed circumcision. One
"The screams of my baby remain embedded in my bones and haunt my mind."
She added later, "His cry sounded like he was being butchered. I lost my
Here is how a mother felt after circumcision of her son:
"It was as close to hell as I ever want to get!"
Another mother shares her deep feelings of regret:
"My tiny son and I sobbed our hearts out...After everything I'd worked for,
carrying and nurturing Joseph in the womb, having him at home against no
small odds, keeping him by my side constantly since birth, nursing him
whenever he needed closeness and nourishment - the circumcision was a
horrible violation of all I felt we shared. I cried for days afterward."
A mother noted that she still felt pain recalling the experience about a
year later. She wrote to her son:
"I have never heard such screams...Will I ever know what scars this brings
to your soul? ... What is that new look I see in your eyes? I can see pain,
a certain sadness, and a loss of trust."
A DIFFERENT KIND OF PENIS ENVY
Very often, parents explain their choice of circumcision by appealing to
the concern that their intact sons would be ridiculed by their circumcised
peers in the locker rooms. It is most ironic that, instead of educating our
children about the importance of our unique cultural and individual
identity, we, ourselves, as parents, fall prey to the peer pressure.
Another common factor for the choice of circumcision is the father's
circumcision status. Parents argue that they do not want their child to
feel "different" from his father. This "like-father, like-son" syndrome is
widely applied by all groups in the U.S., including Armenians, and it is
even viewed as family tradition. At other times, it is the older sibling
who has been circumcised, so the younger brother is circumcised, too.
However, is there any necessity that all the males in the household have
similar penises? After all, as some human rights activists say, boys do not
undergo plastic surgery when they are a day old to make their noses look
like those of their fathers. In fact, the National Organization of
Restoring Men offers an opportunity to circumcised fathers to look like
their intact sons. These are non-surgical stretching techniques for
foreskin restoration, which can be partially effective in restoring the
lost sensitivity of the glans by rejuvenation of the keratinized skin.
BAPTIZED AND CIRCUMCISED? CIRCUMCISION ISSUE IN THE HISTORY OF CHRISTIAN
For centuries, circumcision has been a crucial issue in the lives of
Armenians. Leaving their children intact was a significant aspect of ethnic
identity and religious association among Christian Armenians. Living under
Islamic domination, the preservation of this identity was continuously at
stake. It is known from history that the Turkish government led systematic
and coercive policies to convert Armenians to Islam. In his book, Turkish
Documentary Sources about Armenians, the historian Avetis Papasian writes
that, after 1464, Armenian boys were forcefully taken away from their
families by the Turkish government. This plan of ethnic cleansing was a
real menace for Armenians living in historic Western Armenia. Every two to
five years, representatives of the Turkish government would gather
physically fit and healthy boys between eight and twenty years of age. Then
they would be transported to Istanbul where Armenian boys were made to
ceremonially take an oath to convert to Islam. These children then were
ritually circumcised and given new Turkish names.
Eventually, these Armenian males would receive military training and were
brought up as fanatic followers of Islam.
The 17th-century historian Arakel Davrizhetsi [of Tabriz] writes in his
History about the heroic deaths of Christian Armenian youth who resisted
conversion to Islam, which was always accompanied with circumcision, and
chose death instead. These youth were venerated as saints among Armenians
of those times.
During my interview with Stepan Topchian, an Armenian author and literary
figure, he voiced his concern about this new cultural phenomenon.
Circumcision status, Dr. Topchian explained, was one of the distinctive
features of our ethnic and religious identity. He stated that it took a lot
for our forefathers to resist any attempts of forceful assimilation. Today,
they would be amazed at how easily we abandon an important tradition
central to our national identity. He calls for Armenians to be more prudent
and responsible in preserving this heritage that has come all this way,
only to be jeopardized for no valid reason.
It is rather disturbing to witness that a few decades of American reality
proved more potent than centuries of threat of coercive assimilation. In
one of his email letters to me, Gary Harryman wrote, "Of all the horrors
that have been visited upon Armenians in the last century, I hope
circumcision was/is not one of them."
From the perspective of our Christian heritage, it is essential to
acknowledge that there is an inherent fundamental conflict in baptizing
and, at the same time, circumcising our sons. Let us remember what Paul
said to his followers:
"In him [Christ] you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the
sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with
the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and
raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from
the dead..." (Col 2:8 & 11-13.)
"Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be
circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you, at all. Again I declare to
every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the
whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated
from Christ; you have fallen away from grace..." (Gal... 5 v. 2-6)
As part of my efforts to raise awareness about our Christian heritage, I
call for our religious leaders of the American-Armenian community to come
forward and bring their authoritative involvement in this most urgent
JEWS AGAINST CIRCUMCISION
"We are educated and enlightened Jews who realize that the barbaric,
primitive, torturous, and mutilating practice of circumcision has no place
in modern Judaism," reads the homepage site of the organization Jews
Against Circumcision (JAC). Since ancient times, Jews suffered the grim
consequences of circumcision, which claimed the lives of their infant sons.
In fact, Jewish law allowed the families to forgo circumcision of the third
son, if the family had already lost two previous children as a result of
More and more Jewish people are rejecting the controversial ceremony and
are not afraid to question tradition that is in conflict with common sense,
and basic human rights. "I mourned my own circumcision," Dr. Reiss told me
in a most candid interview. Of Jewish heritage, Dr. Reiss never questioned
this tradition until later in life, when he discovered that "any potential
benefits of circumcision are far outweighed by its risks and drawbacks."
"Jewish people are now leaving their sons intact, as they view circumcision
as a part of Jewish law that they can no longer accept," he explains. In
fact, according to Dr. Reiss, there are proportionately more Jews fighting
against circumcision (as compared to their population size in the U.S.)
than non-Jews. He holds that it is not the Jewish but the American culture
and its medical institutions that are promoting the circumcision industry
in the U.S. He states that, among Jews in Europe, South America, and even
in Israel, circumcision is not universal (only 40% of newborn Jewish boys
in Sweden are being circumcised).
HUMAN RIGHTS: THE ULTIMATE ISSUE
The various cultures of the world have practiced religious and secular
rituals that infringed on the bodily autonomy of the individual, including
female circumcision, infibulations (stitching together the labia to prevent
intercourse before marriage), sterilizations, human sacrifice, feet
binding, body piercing, cutting off the fingers as a sign of mourning, and
other mutilations. As average Westerners, we watch National Geographic
films about male and female circumcision rites in Africa and, with our
typical ethnocentrism, label them as "primitive," "unclean," and "brutal."
We assume that what happens in American hospitals is "scientific,"
"sterile," and "humane."
Nonetheless, human rights activists argue that, regardless of the place and
style of the procedure, both male and female circumcisions are genital
mutilations and violations of the child's right to an intact body. "No
one," says Dr. Denniston in his interview, "and especially not a doctor has
the right to remove normal body parts from another individual (mutilation
by definition). Nor do they have the right to torture that individual."
Some parents resent the procedure because it involves genital manipulation
by the circumciser, which they think strips their sons of their innocence.
As Marilyn Milos put it in her interview, "Circumcision is where sex and
violence meet for the first time, and it imprints the connection between
the brain and the penis with pain instead of the pleasure that organ is
meant to feel." Unfortunately, the proponents of circumcision either avoid
or trivialize discussions of such important aspects as psychosexual trauma
associated with routine neonatal circumcision, the degree of pain, and
human rights issue.
The research paper on "Male Circumcision: Pain, Trauma and Psychosexual
Sequelae" (Journal of Health Psychology, May 2002, Boyle, G., Goldman, R.,
Svoboda, S., Fernandez, E.) views circumcision as a procedure that
"involves an imbalance of power between perpetrator and victim, contains
both aggressive and libidinal elements, and threatens a child's sexual
integrity by amputating part of the genitalia." Involuntary neonatal
circumcision is described as an experience of "violence and powerlessness -
inflicted by other human beings."
Many adult men who recognize the importance of the irreplaceable part of
their body that has been removed without their knowledge or consent tend to
manifest feelings of resentment and emotional suffering. As cited by
authors, "avoidance of the topic of circumcision, or obsessive
preoccupation with such a loss" is typical of the circumcised individual.
The article also discusses the so-called "I'm circumcised and I'm fine"
syndrome, which is a common attitude of the circumcised father, "who
unreasonably insists on the circumcision of a son in the face of contrary
Dr. Paul Fleiss discusses the psychological mind-set of the circumcised
father and explains how to best overcome these feelings.
"A circumcised father who has mixed feelings about his intact newborn son
may require gentle, compassionate psychological counseling to help him come
to terms with his loss and to overcome his anxieties about normal male
genitalia. In such cases, the mother should steadfastly protect her child,
inviting her husband to share this protective role and helping him diffuse
his negative feelings. Most parents want what is best for their baby. Wise
parents listen to their hearts and trust their instinct to protect their
baby from harm. The experience of the ages has shown that babies thrive
best in a trusting atmosphere of love, gentleness, respect, acceptance,
nurturing, and intimacy. Cutting off a baby's foreskin shatters this
Today, lawyers and human rights activists raise the issue of limiting the
parental right of consent for this procedure. The American Academy of
Pediatrics clearly states that there is "no absolute medical indication for
routine circumcision." By this reasoning, parental consent for this
surgical operation, which is neither diagnostic nor treating a disease, is
not legitimate. "Circumcision can always be performed in adulthood with
fully informed consent for those individuals who desire it," says Dr.
Zargarian. "I always tell parents, let the child grow up and decide for
himself. Do not assume that he would want to be circumcised and remove a
healthy, functional, and most importantly, a private body part."
Furthermore, the Code of Medical Ethics prohibits a physician from advising
unnecessary medical or surgical treatment. Thus, the practice of
circumcision is de facto in conflict with medical ethics. As Dr. George
Denniston pointed out in his email letter, "Armenians are one of many
minority groups who never before dreamed of removing half the skin from
their son's normal penis, who have been betrayed by the American medical
David Llewellyn, who is the Director of the Atlanta Circumcision
Information Center as well as a practicing attorney, calls for parents,
whose children have been victims of wrongful circumcision, to enforce legal
rights on behalf of their child. He holds that lawsuit is the only potent
way to stop physicians and institutions from misinforming or soliciting
this unnecessary procedure. (Legal Remedies for Penile Torts, The Compleat
Little do the doctors know that today's helpless infants that they are now
circumcising may grow up to become potential plaintiffs of tomorrow. As the
number of lawsuits arising from circumcision is growing, so is the number
of the states who have ended Medicaid funding of routine neonatal
circumcision. Arizona, Missouri, North Carolina, Montana, Utah, Florida,
and Maine have joined California, Mississippi, Nevada, North Dakota,
Oregon, and Washington in not funding neonatal routine circumcision.
The history of circumcision reveals a chronicle wherein the motives of the
practice have been continuously changing, consistent with the times and the
beliefs of people practicing it. From assign of slavery to a mark of social
prestige, to its "medical" popularity, circumcision has been and remains
one of the most controversial procedures. As members of a society that
places high value on the rights of its citizens, we should question
circumcision regardless of our religious and cultural backgrounds.
Today's society should ultimately be guided by sound science, common sense
and respect for basic human rights. The myths surrounding circumcision are
inconsistent with our values and beliefs. Circumcision is not "clean," it
is not "fashionable" or "prestigious," nor is it medically necessary. If
you believe in evolution, it contradicts evolution. If you believe in God,
than cutting off a part from God's creation is a disbelief. Circumcision
does not belong to Christians, it does not belong to Armenians. It is not
humane, and it is not what our children are asking for. Ultimately,
circumcision is against any parental instinct.
"Circumcision is irreversible," concludes Dr. Zargarian. "I call for
parents to be more considerate and responsible in their decisions!"
Article copyright The Armenian Reporter International.