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Anti-Circumcision Activists Protest in Front of UN, Call Circumcision ‘Child Abuse’

On December 10, a group of anti-circumcision activists protested in front the United Nations headquarters in New York City wearing blood-stained jumpsuits, calling for the end of circumcision worldwide and demanding, “Forced circumcision violates human rights.”

The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC),  a member of the International Coalition of Genital Integrity, is a group of U.S.-based local activist groups that oppose all forms of “genital cutting of male, female, and intersex infants and children, genital integrity, and human rights.”

In recent years, NOCIRC has taken particular aim at the Jewish community in the U.S., claiming that Jewish ritual circumcision amounts to child abuse and is a tradition that must be stopped.  “Fifty-five percent of non-Jewish boys in the United States are circumcised,” the site says. ”Who then, can claim circumcision as either the source of Jewish identity?”

NOCIRC also calls on Jews to take “responsibility for their faith” and abandon traditions that are harmful to their children. “Jews have had to acknowledge that the real barriers to their faith were the ones they themselves created or perpetuated,” the site instructs on its resource page for Jewish parents.

Not surprisingly, many within the Jewish community have strongly reacted to so-called ‘Intactivists’, questioning the real reason behind the opposition to the long-standing Jewish ritual.

Manfred Gerstenfeld, emeritus chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, asked in a recent op-ed if the supporters of the anti-circumcision movement were “motivated solely by child welfare?”

He continued that the real issue is much more than “a collision between two universal democratic values” of human rights and freedom of religion.  “Anti-semitism plays a role on the attacks on circumcision,” he said.

Mark Joseph Stern, a health and science writer, added that in his own analysis of the movement he found sensationalism and clever marketing are also central to the  intactivists claims.

“None of intactivists’ cornerstone beliefs are based in reality or science; rather, they’re founded in lore, devilishly clever sophistry dressed up as logic,” Stern wrote for Slate.  He stressed that although the intactivists “dominate the internet” and discussions about circumcision, “the real-world, fact-based consensus on circumcision is tipping in the opposite direction.”

Photo Credit: Tamar Auber

About the author

Tamar is a New York based freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in over 15 publications. You can catch her work regularly on Issue Hawk, Latest, Jspace, and MediaGlobal.