At one time during my tenure at the first law firm that I worked at after graduation, I participated in the firm’s pro bono practice. We focused on work for a local human rights organization, and participated in preparing and arguing asylum petitions for refugees from other countries. Up until that point, I did not know very much about circumcision, either male and female, other than a vague cultural knowledge that it was something that was traditionally performed on infant boys in the United States.
We took on a client, a woman from an eastern African country, who was seeking asylum in the United States due to her association with a particular political group in her country. One of our alternative arguments in her asylum petition revolved around the fact that she had been forcibly circumcised at a late age, once her new husband discovered that she was uncut. It was at that time that I became familiar with the horrors of female circumcision. It is a reflection of how commonplace and unquestioned male circumcision is in our own society that it still did not occur to me to associate the incredibly barbaric practice of female circumcision with male circumcision.
That experience did, however, make me vaguely uncomfortable with the idea. Having several male friends from Britain and Scotland who candidly discussed their uncircumcised condition, and their preference for it, also pushed my thoughts on the topic towards questioning why it is done on a routine basis. During my first pregnancy, I came to the conclusion that, if I were to have a boy, I would never subject him to such a thing.
I just watched this abridged version of a documentary on the topic. It was filmed by a Chicago area film maker, Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon. He frames the topic in terms of his own struggles with his Jewish identity, but he pulls no punches. Male circumcision is barbaric. Period. It is cruel and unnecessary, and I cannot understand why it is legal.
WARNING: Graphic. Also, viewing appears to be restricted to YouTube, hence the link only.