Parallel Voice

This blog condemns all kinds of media bias – political, ideological, ethnic or racial, economical, etc. It fights organised propaganda of administrations, political systems and regimes through mass media. And, stands against corporatisation of news and information. It has no interests except to bring out truth. It is not our truth. Nor your or their truth. It is the truth.

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Don’t Starve You Beauties!

Can you relate any female model you see in ads to any woman in your normal life? With her three inflection points measuring 36-29-38 (36” bust, 29″ waist and 38″ hips)? Hardly any, huh?

In the life we are familiar with, we barely come across those hourglass-shaped women of print-ads, TV commercials, and even of movies. We see only those fruit-shaped ones (banana, apple and pear) in ordinary life.

Women have always had flesh (meat) besides bones and skin. And, men have always loved such women. Here, I ain’t forgetting some exceptional/extraordinary women who want/have wanted to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, exceptions don’t prove the law!

Look at those beautiful damsels you see in classical paintings and sculptures, they are all normal women. Means not skeletal! Even in old movies women are of average shapes. When we see a woman with regular features in ads, we can easily relate to, or sometimes can identify with ourselves. The skinny ones, they look like celestial creatures or someone not earthly.

I don’t know who started this tradition of modeling of malnourished/undernourished women. Some female models starve to remain slim. Some are anorexic – obsessed with losing weight, and force themselves undergo starvation diets. Most of them never make their diet public. Some use drugs to cut down food.

Even though less than eight per cent women have hourglass shape, it is still considered the ideal shape. Who wants this spectre-thin body structure? Not women, for sure. I can, at least, swear by most women who can never achieve or maintain this uncanny shape. It is men who want women to be super slim. Male fashion designers, to be exact.

There are models who have been turned down by (male) designers when they gained weight less than a pound. By creating an elite class of women, designers limit the entry of most women into fashion world.

It is not that good shape is not desirable. But, it should not occur at the cost of health and life. One should not let her body suffer. It should not go to the extent of torture or self-annihilation. If shape means health and long life, it is more than welcome.

There is a reason why I am talking about this now; French actress and model, Isabelle Caro recently died at the age of 28. She was anorexic. She was featured in an anti-anorexia ad campaign. The campaign had sent shock waves across fashion world along with a message – don’t starve you beauties!

Hey, It’s Soccer, Not Football

In June 1990, a few days before the FIFA World Cup began, the renowned US magazine, ‘Time’, wrote: “but most of them (Americans) find soccer — which the rest of the world perversely calls football — a frustrating, often impenetrable game. What kind of sport is it, after all, where players can’t use their hands, pass the ball with their feet, butt it with their heads, only rarely score goals and touch off stadium riots when they do?

This is what a ‘responsible’ magazine like ‘Time’ wrote about football. Let’s lay Time’s words on a dissection table. Firstly, “soccer-which the rest of the world perversely calls football.” What else should we call a game in which the ball is played with the feet? Should we call it ‘handball’? In horse race, people ride horses. That is why it is called ‘horse race’. Same is applicable to car race.

Second, “What kind of sport is it, after all, where players can’t use their hands, pass the ball with their feet, butt it with their heads”. What did the magazine want to suggest – should the players be allowed to use their hands, should not be allowed to pass the ball with their feet and can’t butt the ball with heads?

How juvenile it would sound if someone opine: “In fencing, the combatants should be allowed to kick and punch their opponents.” “Boxers should be allowed to bite each other’s ears off.” Are you surprised? But, that is what ‘Time’ wanted to say to its readers.

In the following paragraph of the article they wrote: “But when the games kick off in Italy this week, Americans would do well to join the 1.2 billion soccer nuts from Beijing to Sao Paulo who will be glued to their TV sets”.  “Soccer nuts” – that is what the magazine would call football fans, buffs, or aficionados.

To be not ‘nutty’ one has to watch/play baseball, Super Bowl or at least the NBA. Or, only sane people watch those games. By the way, Americans call a ball game that is also played with hand “football”. They refuse to call it American Football, which is more understandable. Or they could call it ‘Rugby’.

I am now wondering why the Americans sent a team to play in an international sporting event where ‘hands’ are not allowed, and a “frustrating and impenetrable” game? Why did/do millions of Americans watch the event? To go nuts? Good that they did not make it to the next phase of the ongoing FIFA World Cup.

In most cases, which has global significance or that needs a consensus, the US prefers to remain a rogue nation. It is always like the US Vs the rest of the world.

The expansion of FIFA, the international organisaton that organises the World Cup, is Fédération Internationale de Football Association or International Federation of Association Football. They recognise the game as football.

 They refuse to accept you’re right and they’re wrong even in the presence strong evidences. If they call a tiger ‘dog’, the rest of the world should also follow the same suit. If they call a bird ‘cat’, they expect you to do the same. If you don’t, you are nuts and uncivilized. You’re a but a stupid.

Shooting Down Cupid!

They have declared war on Feb. 14, the most ‘romantic’ day of the year. They are not Mumbai’s Shiv Sainiks who vandalize and ravage city’s trendy gift stores at the fanatic Bal Thackaray’s behest. Nor are they people of a bygone era who turn their backs on a love-laden, new-generation Valentine’s Day. They are lively and lovely teen Torontonians who want to protest the way the day is celebrated.

Teen groups recently ‘uncelebrated’ Valentine’s Day in several places in Toronto with slogans ‘Love Stinks, Cupid’s Stupid and Roses are Dead’. No cards, chocolates, flowers, candy-grams, parties and dances. Clad in red and black, they would rather ‘enjoy’ the day with ‘cranky crafts, moody music and spiteful’ snacks. They would also make Gothic sock puppets with body piercings, black roses out of duct tapes and fake break-up letters to boot.

This is an emerging trend especially among the youngsters north of the US border. In the city, there are already hundreds of 25-49-year-olds who turn out every year for what is known as “Toronto’s largest singles anti-Valentine’s Day party.” They share their experiences of love and heart-breaks, deceptions and infidelity. They decry the commercialization of St. Valentine and profiteering of the day.

Parallel read: http://thebrokenbook.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/is-your-love-for-a-day-or-forever/

Killing Soft(ly) Drinks

(This story, authored by me, was published in the ‘Delhi Mid-Day’ in March, 2003)

Answering to a query, a world renowned Indian cricketer once said that he did not drink the soft drink he endorsed. Though his words were not enough to create a bedlam followed by a mass renunciation of the product, the expected remark must have tinkled the thinking of any one who listened to him. However, the one who is aware of the ingredients of carbonated beverages would definitely doubt why the cricket celebrity should take that particular drink at all. He knows, the said player like many other endorsers would not take or use anything they endorse for.

Soft drinks have been around for over a hundred years, but many of their deleterious heath effects have not been deeply or extensively studied, and hence not known. However, scientific studies done so far have shown how as few as one or two soft drinks a day can increase one’s risk for numerous health hazards including problems such as obesity, diabetes, tooth decay, osteoporosis, nutritional deficiencies, heart disease, and many neurological disorders.  

The demand for carbonated drinks, however, has been rising steadily, thanks to the aggressive ad campaigns unleashed by multi-national soft-drink companies. These beverages have become today’s rage, trend and fashion, especially among the youth. Most of the consumers scurrying around for soft drinks are ignorant of the fact that the colourful fluid coming in attractive bottles does not do a bit of good to them. In an attempt to chill out, our young hearts often ignore why a sports person drinks honeyed-water or fruit pulps instead of the drink he/she says good for health.

As a strategy, the manufacturers keep on changing the contents of bottles to make them more attractive to lure more and more thirsty young hearts. Fifty years ago the average serving size for a soft drink was a six-ounce bottle. Today, soft drinks are sold in twenty ounce bottles and are consumed in much larger amounts.

The average young male between the ages of twelve and twenty-nine consumes over 160 gallons of soft drinks a year. Studies show that males of this age group are the largest consumers of soft drinks.  Many of these males receive over ten percent of their total daily calories from soft drinks. Dr. Charles Best, the discoverer of insulin, claims that teenagers who consume too many soft drinks have cirrhosis of the liver similar to what chronic alcoholics have. There is no cure for cirrhosis of the liver except to receive a new liver through a transplant.

It is a truth that soft drinks, even though they contain a large number of calories, have little nutritional benefit, and are known as ‘empty calories’. Most of the calories in soft drinks are from refined sugars, and there are no other nutritionally beneficial components in them.

A common problem that is associated with consumption of a large number of soft drinks is the increased acid levels in the body.  All soft drinks are very acidic, but dark colas such as Coke and Pepsi are much more acidic. The caffeine and acids found in soft dinks such as acetic, fumaric, gluconic and phosphoric acids cause gastronomic distress. The combination and strength of these acids are so strong that when a drain is clogged a plumber will often use a soft drink, or if a car battery is corroding one can use a soft drink to dissolve the corrosion.

Most carbonated beverages contain caffeine, which is considered to be a mild drug and can have harmful effects, especially on children. Caffeine is a drug that acts as a stimulant to the central nervous system. Consumption of this in large amounts can cause diseases and disorders such as insomnia, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, and deviations from the normal heart rate.

Another very serious effect of carbonated drinks on people’s health is the increased risk of bone fractures and osteoporosis.  The large amounts of sugar, bubbles caused by carbon dioxide, and phosphoric acid that are found in soft drinks remove nutritious minerals from bones allowing the bones to become weak and increasing the risk for them to break. This is done by the phosphoric acid disrupting the calcium-phosphorous ratio, which dissolves calcium from the bones. Besides, dental cavities are often associated with carbonated beverage.

Even those drinks that are labelled as ‘sugar-free,’ ‘reduced sugar’ or ‘low sugar’ can still contain enough sugar to cause damage to the teeth, and they will still contain the same acids as the standard carbonated drinks. It is recommended, therefore, to replace carbonated drinks in the diet with other options.

Better substitutes are not scarce in India, which is the largest producer of milk as well as a big producer of citrous fruits in the world. Traditional and natural drinks like milk, lassi, or others such as fruit juices, sherbet, sugarcane juice, nimbu pani, et al are also thirst quenching and nutritious.

P.S: Once, on one of her visits to India, I asked Indra Nooyi, who was then the CFO and is now the Chairperson and CEO of PepsiCo, whether there was any difference between Pepsi colas produced in India and the US to which she said the company followed the same formula  for both the countries. I, then, asked her why there was more pesticide residue in colas produced in India in comparison to that of the US. I also inquired, referring to the fact that roaches and their fecula were found in Pepsi bottles, why hygiene was compromised in India, certainly not in the US; whether the company expected Indians to drink anyhting it produced? But, both the queries drew no answers. Their PR people meticulously intervened and said that she had to rush to attend another meeting – a nice and scholarly way of evading unpalatable questions!

Vatican welcomes married priests?

PriestMarriage 1It sounded a bit startling to me too as I was reading an announcement the Vatican made on Oct. 20, 2009 that the Church was making it easier for Anglicans to convert to Roman Catholicism. With the decision, the Anglicans will be able to join Catholic Church without giving up their Anglican liturgy and identity, including married priests. The decision was taken in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials (without consulting the spiritual leader of the global Anglican Church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Who cares whom?).

“The unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows,” said Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, while announcing the decision.

Yeah, fine. A good decision; after all, the ice has started thawing (but for economic reasons). However, the decision contradicts Vatican’s official stand on marriage of priests, who by principle should refrain from marriage and any sexual relationships, including ‘masturbation and impure thoughts’ (sexual visualization or fantasies). For, the Church considers itself to be the bride of Jesus, and wants its priests to imitate the life of Jesus.

So, if you are a Catholic priest, but want to marry, don’t worry. There is a way. Join the Anglican Church and convert back to Catholicism. You can save your ministry as well as your wife. But remember, an Anglican priest cannot become a Catholic bishop!

However, this is not the first time that the Catholic Church advertently made it look more acceptable to people from other orders/denominations or Christian groups. It has resorted to such tactics earlier to lure more people into its fold. During the pontificate of Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), such conversions were allowed for Protestant ministers and Anglican priests.

Now the question is, will the Church benefit from going ‘liberal’? Of course, it will. There is already a schism between traditionalists and modernists in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion on a variety of issues. Traditionalists are opposed to women priests, openly gay clergy and the blessing of same-sex unions which have been recognized by Anglicans. Those disaffected Anglicans are a frustrated group, tending to break away. And they will naturally turn to Catholicism to shelter their faith. And, for the Church, more people means more money. They pray for more such conversions. 

Catholics and Double Standards

Will the new announcement create other problems for Catholic Church? Theologically, morally, and ethically, it will. However, it is not a big worry to the Church just because none of the above concerns them. Morality can be expected only from those who have moral moorings.
 
Anglican Church came to existence after separating from Catholicism and shunning papal authority. Anglicans do not recognize the Holy See. How will an Anglican, converting to Catholicism, address the Pope, Your Holiness or Mr. Joseph Ratzinger? 

In September, 2008, the Anglican Church apologized to Charles Darwin for misunderstanding his theory of evolution and natural selection. In an article it said, “Charles Darwin, 200 years from your birth [in 1809], the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.”

Anglican Church officials then said senior bishops wanted to atone for the vilification their predecessors heaped on Darwin in the 1860s, when he put forward his theory that man was descended from apes. An apology is an admission that they (the Church) were wrong to construe that Darwin was wrong.

But, Catholicism anchors its faith in creationism – creation of the universe in six days by god. This negates Darwin and all his theories, which is against Anglican apology. What will the newly converted Anglicans (whose liturgy and identity remain the same) believe in – man descended from apes or created out of dust by god?

In 2006, Anglican Church apologized for its role in the slave trade. Then, they apologized to Islam/Muslims for the wrongs they committed during the bloody crusades. What will they say – Anglican Church was wrong or the Catholics were wrong?

Going by Cardinal William Levada’s words, “The unity of the church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows”, Catholic Church will also recognize cultural diversity in Christianity.

There are Christians (Ukrainian) who celebrate Christmas on January 7th. If they join Catholicism, will they be allowed to celebrate Christmas as they do now? There are Christians who worship John the Baptist, the one who baptized Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus Christ and also those who worship Mary Magdalene. If they accept Catholicism, can they continue their worship of John the Baptist or Mary Magdalene?

There are Christians who believe that Jesus was married to Mary of Magdalene. Number of different Christian sects thus goes on and on. So, do our questions. We will stop asking such questions only when they stop contradicting themselves. Until then, we are here to ask them questions.

Nobel Prize for Obama? For Peace?

Nobel Peace Medal
Nobel Peace Medal

There is a second-hand book store, open only on Sundays and is run by a social worker named Steve, at the flea market in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. Whenever I visit my friend who lives not too far from the market, I go to Steve for some good titles. His girl friend, Trish, was an ardent Obama supporter before and even a few months after his ascension to presidency.

On my last visit in August, I casually asked Steve whether Trish still supported Obama to which he answered she had lost faith in him. I knew the reason for her sudden estrangement with that popular leader.

During the pre-poll days, Trish used to spin off a few hours from her busy work to volunteer for Obama’s presidential campaign. She was not alone to pin hope on a young, energetic, highly oratorical, Afro-American messenger of hope and change. Millions of young Americans followed her suit, devoting their time and money to get him elected.

Unprecedentedly, a large chunk of population of European origin extended support to this man of colour. Also, hundreds of thousands of people, who had earlier lost faith in the US election process especially after the controversial victory of George Bush in 2000 in Florida, cast their votes for a promising presidential candidate. Now, ignored and their needs taken for granted, Trish is not alone to feel dejected and betrayed.
 
Obama’s main planks to contest the election on were troops withdrawal from Iraq, peace in Afghanistan, universal health care, cleaning up Washington of its hundreds of corrupting lobbying groups, bring peace back to the world, more jobs, climate change, and what not? He had all promises in his kitty only to break them after becoming president.

Months have passed since he assumed power. Troops still remain in Iraq and they are most unlikely to be withdrawn completely. Situation in Afghanistan is at its worst and is likely to deteriorate further as he is shifting his focus from the Taliban to Al-Qaeda. So-called 9/11 culprits including its mastermind Bin Laden are still at large. Despite majority in both houses, universal health-care is still an idea up for grabs. Lobbying groups in Washington are more powerful than ever before. When Israel pounded Gaza early this year, killing hundreds of innocent women and children, Obama kept mum. Peace has never been reinstated in the world as he avowed to do. Unemployment rate in the country is on the rise contrary to his expectations.

That is the Obama I have seen so far – a failed president. He has become just another president. May be he is more disappointing than Bush as the people expected him to walk his talks. He is either not capable of doing it or being hindered. In both, he has failed the people. As the American stand-up comedian and political commentator, Bill Maher, said, Bush at least had the ‘audacity’ to do what he wanted to do – even to go to a war that most Americans never wanted, the UN never consented to and the world community protested against.

The only ‘peace’ Obama has initiated so far is the peace he brokered between Republicans and Democrats by preserving Bush-era remnants including retention of Defense Secretary Robert Gates in his post and extending the out-gone president’s policies. Even in doing so, he has failed miserably. Republicans are not still convinced of Obama’s nationality and are not sure whether Obama is eligible to become the president. Another peace he initiated was the undemocratic induction of Hillary Clinton into his cabinet, a candidate the people repudiated to elect Obama.

Of course, he has captured the attention of the world with his message of change and hope. But, he is far from having materialized them. He is popular and seems to be the only link Christian West can depend on to connect with Islamic world. But, does that qualify him for this prestigious award?

Then, why is this peace prize for a man who has failed his own people? Obama himself is not convinced of what the Nobel committee praised him for. That is why he said, he viewed the decision to honour him less as a recognition of his own accomplishments and more as “a call to action.” If that is what he feels about the award, he may walk back on his presidential road to pick those promises he abandoned during his course. And, do at least something for Americans, if not for the world.

 (picture source:www.chocolatemintsinajar.com)

Genital Mutilation aka Circumcision

DSC_0364One day, I visited my friend Edward’s (name changed) home in New Jersey. He was bathing his infant son. A baby bath tub was conveniently placed in the kitchen sink. Unlike many other babies I had seen, Joshua was rather enjoying his bath in the lukewarm water. He was holding on to the gooseneck faucet to balance his tiny body. Then it came to my notice that the kid had a circumcised penis. It surprised me for the simple reason that back in Kerala Edward used to call Muslims ‘mukkal’, a derogatory term in Malayalam that meant having ‘three fourths’. A more lucid definition would be ‘the incomplete’ just due to the circumcised genital.

How come someone who despised the Islamic ritual (he never knew that Jews, some African and Australian tribal people and even some Christians also did the same to their male children) had his son undergo a similar snipping ceremony?

I couldn’t resist my curiosity. “Why,” I asked him.

“It’s very hygienic. Doctors opined so,” he replied with no compunction on his earlier disparaging comments of Muslims.

Is it really hygienic? I wondered. Even if it is, isn’t it a very costly hygiene, at least mentally and physically as the children grow older? Is it right to take away from a boy what nature has given him? Isn’t it cruel to pain an infant when it is absolutely helpless? Isn’t it unjust on the part of the parents to allow their son’s foreskin to be chopped off when it is not necessary? In a few minutes, scores of such questions dawned upon me.

As far as I know, we, as beings, need everything we have. We don’t have anything we don’t need. All organs and their associates have a minor or major function in all our mental or bodily functions. (Even dead cells that form finger and toe nails and hair have a function to perform. I don’t believe that tumor (cancerous) that grow in our body has a creative function in our living. Here I don’t mean any medical condition too). Then why this practice is medically rationalized to have you believe it is preventive or hygienic?

As the definition goes by, Circumcision is the (surgical) removal of the sleeve of skin and mucosal tissue that normally covers the glans (head) of the penis. This double layer, also called the prepuce, is commonly known as the foreskin.

The foreskin comprises as much as half or more of the penile skin system and contains three to four feet of blood vessels, 240 feet of nerves, and between 10,000-20,000 specialized nerve endings. It is not an adhesion, nor redundant, nor a birth defect. It has three known functions: protective, sensory, and sexual.

During infancy, the foreskin is attached to the glans and protects it from urine, feces and abrasion from diapers. Throughout life, the foreskin keeps the glans soft and moist and protects it from trauma and injury. Without this protection, the glans becomes dry, calloused and desensitized from exposure and chafing. Parts of the foreskin, such as the mucosa (inner foreskin) and frenulum, are particularly sensitive and contribute to sexual pleasure. Specialized nerve endings enhance sexual pleasure and control. Experts say that all circumcised males lose some or most of the sensitivity in their glans and all of the sensitivity in their foreskins!

Then, why circumcision? There are several reasons, but is primarily performed for cultural or religious reasons. Religiously, (Jews, Muslims and some Christians), it is supposedly to obey a divine command, respect for saints and prophets or religious identity. Some believe that the part removed from the penis is dedicated to the divine.
Anthropologists say the Jews created it as a way either to exclude women from their club or to ritualize the sacrifice of the firstborn child (Abraham and son Isaac’s story).

Culturally, it could be a mark of tribal identification or a fertility rite, aimed at giving men the power of procreation by making them shed blood from their genitals like women. Or may be, a social role, family obligation, respect for ancestors, promotion of self-control and so on.

However, until the 19th century, none other than Muslims, Jews and some tribal people in Africa and Australia practiced circumcision extensively. Mass circumcision was introduced in the mid-1800s in English-speaking countries, especially in the United States, for health reasons – ‘to prevent masturbation, which was blamed for causing diseases such as epilepsy, tuberculosis and insanity. Other reasons included to prevent cancer of the penis and cervix, and venereal diseases. All these reasons have been disproven by medical science.

But, there are, of course, genuine concerns. Hygiene is one among them. In the past it was feared that the smegma (white waxy substance, consisting of natural secretions and shed skin cells that may occur around the folds of the genitalia in both males and females) might be carcinogenic, could cause cancer. This fear was used as a justification for male circumcision as well as for clitoridectomy, genrally known as female circumcision. In fact, smegma beneficially serves to preserve subpreputial wetness, and chemically it contains immunologically active compounds and hormones.

According to Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, “smegma protects and lubricates the glans and inner lamella of the prepuce, facilitating erection, preputial eversion and penetration during sexual intercourse. This natural lubricant allows for prolonged intercourse and eliminates the need for artificial supplemental lubrication during normal coitus or masturbation.
 
Another concern is phimosis (tight foreskin) which is not that common an abnormality. This is not the same as the natural attachment of the foreskin to the glans during infancy, which is completely normal. The foreskin can normally be retracted by adolescence. If retraction is not possible, a number of newer treatments are available which do not involve circumcision: steroid creams, stretching, and preputioplasty.

Next concern is a serious one. If the foreskin has severe infection (balanitis xerotica obliterans) or gangrene, perhaps related to diabetes, removal of the affected area may be a medically advisable option. Abnormalities or diseases of the foreskin can be treated medically or ritualistically, if and when they occur, on a case-by-case basis.

Prof. J M Hutson of Royal Children’s Hospital, Australia, observes that circumcision was ‘likely to have arisen as an early public health measure for preventing recurrent balanitis, caused by sand accumulating under the foreskin.’

A similar view is found in the policy statement on circumcision issued by Royal Australasian College of Physicians in 2002: ‘Circumcision of males has been undertaken for religious and cultural reasons for many thousands of years. It probably originated as a hygienic measure in communities living in hot, dusty and dry environments.’

It sounds rational given the fact that the two major religions that practice circumcision, viz., Judaism and Islam, originated in lands with hot, arid, and dusty conditions and with only few oases or water bodies to depend on. Centuries ago the founders of those religions might have been rational to observe such a ritual. Now, a good, daily bath during which a gentle rinsing of the genital area is more than sufficient to keep your hygiene.

Is circumcision painful? Of course, it is extremely painful and traumatic for the baby! If they witness how circumcision is performed on their babies, most parents won’t allow that to take place. Legs and hands of the baby are strapped down so that he can’t move. His genitals are scrubbed and covered with antiseptic. His foreskin is torn from his glans and slit lengthwise so that circumcision instrument can be inserted. Then his foreskin is cut off. Unlike many of us believe, babies are sensitive to pain as anyone else. Most babies cry frantically during circumcision. Some defecate. Some even lapse into a coma. The reason some babies don’t cry when they are circumcised is that they can’t cry because they are in a state of shock.

Most babies are circumcised without anesthetics. Even if anesthetic is administered, being stuck with a needle in the penis itself is painful. If it is ritualistically done by religious people like the Jewish mohels, the method is crude and archaic and might even endanger the baby’s life. (Not long ago, a Jewish infant died of herpes and several other babies contracted the virus after being circumcised by the mohel Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, who practiced direct oral suction!)

Circumcisions sometimes might lead to complications. According to American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statistics, when 100,000 boys are circumcised, 1000 (one per cent) cases might end up in complications, including hundreds of permanent, sexually crippling, botched circumcisions and at least one death. The British urology stats give a graver picture – it could be between 5-7 per cent. (Remember, in February, 2007, an infant at Sarah Bush Hospital in the US had a standard circumcision procedure performed by Dr. Sherif Malek, in which the doctor severed the entire glans of the infant’s penis and faced a lawsuit)

Now the question is, can we live without circumcision? Of course we can! Approximately 80-85 per cent of the world’s male population has intact genitals. Not a single medical society –  be it American Medical Association(AMA), American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Royal Australian College of Physicians (RACP), British Medical Association (BMA), American Cancer Society ACS – recommends circumcision for healthy male infants. Barring Muslims, Jews and some tribal people, Americans are the only people who practice circumcision extensively, allegedly for the doctors to make money. Even in the US, the number of circumcised males is coming down.

Circumcision is nothing but an irreversible amputation of a healthy, normal, sensitive, functional part of your baby’s penis – an amputation that experts regard not just as unnecessary, but as contra-indicated. Why should parents decide that the boy should look like dad? Why should the doctors and circumcisers, with the permission of parents, inflict pain on a new born when it can hardly react? Why should we perform something which a child is incapable of stopping?

At the same time, any sane adult can have his foreskin removed if he decides so just like he has a body piercing. But, circumcision, at best, is cosmetic; at worst it is mutilation, and never therapeutic for a neonate.

Courtesy:
Doctors Opposing Circumcision (DOC), USA
National Organisation of Circumcision Information Resource Centers, USA
Stop Infant Circumcision Society, USA

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