Male circumcision has come under the spotlight after a noted mental health lecturer argued that the practice (for anything other than medical necessity) should be outlawed.
In an article for The Conversation, Dr Niall McCrae of King's College put forward a case for the practice of male circumcision to be made illegal, much like FGM, otherwise known as female genital mutilation.
McCrae says there is a case to argue that 'circumcision is on a par with FGM type IV in terms of harm'. FMG type IV is female genital mutilation for all non-medical purposes.
McCrae notes the stark cultural contrast between male (legal) and female (illegal, largely) circumcision, but argues that there are "potential long-term psychological harms that may arise in adulthood, as self-consciousness detracts from sexual intimacy."
In the piece, McCrae takes issue with the purported medical benefits of male circumcision (as stated by the British Association of Paediatric Surgeons) and the long-held argument that it is more hygienic.
One of the key issues on the topic that prevents legal change in the area is the fact that circumcision is "a Muslim and Jewish practice", which is also practiced in some African Christian communities.
McCrae argues that adhering to these cultural/religious customs circumvents the medical Hippocratic Oath, to "first, do no harm".
He believes cultural sensitivities prevent public figures from calling for a ban on male circumcision, but notes that Iceland is set to become the first European country to ban the practice (for anything other than medical purposes), and says that Britain should follow suit.
The Icelandic law - currently before the Icelandic parliament - would impose a penalty of up to six years in prison for anyone who carried out a circumcision that was not based on medical grounds.
Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir of the centre-right Progressive party told The Guardian: "If we have laws banning circumcision for girls, then we should do so for boys."
McCrae argues against "draconian intervention" but says the law should "treat children fairly and squarely, irrespective of gender."
The professor suggested in his piece that a "specific prohibition" on male genital mutilation could be needed, though stated that such a move would be unnecessary if the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861 was applied. The act is a wide-ranging law covering everything from assault to dangerous driving offences
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