UK Midwife charged with killing baby boy through circumcision

A UK midwife has been charged with manslaughter after a baby bled to death following a circumcision.

According to online reports from The Oldham Chronicle Grace Adeleye (66) was charged on Friday with the manslaughter of Goodluck Caubergs by gross negligence. 
The court heard the incident happened in Oldham on April 17 2010.

In the UK it is still legal to subject baby boys to the type of genital surgery that we would consider barbaric if it was performed on baby girls in the developing world. To get a better understanding of the relative severity of the different types of unnecessary genital surgery performed on girls and boys see this 5 minute YouTube clip.

Subjecting a girl living in Britain to unnecessary genital surgery – either at home or abroad – is illegal. Yet performing unnecessary genital surgery on boys is classed as a ‘consensual assault’ – just like tattooing but with one subtle difference. While it is illegal to tattoo a boy either with or without his consent, parents do not need their son’s consent to have his foreskin painfully and unnecessarily removed without anaesthetic by non-medical practitioners.

As well as the many physical complications, subjecting infants and boys to unnecessary genital surgery has been found to cause post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anger, low self-esteem and problems with intimacy. Furthermore, circumcised men are believed to be 60% more likely to develop alexithymia, which is the inability to feel or understand emotions.

And yet in the UK we are still subjecting an estimated 100 boys a day to non-consensual, medically unnecessary circumcision  – with two-thirds of these procedures being carried out for non-religious reasons.

Click here to read a report that found 40% of circumcisions performed on boys at an Islamic school in Oxford led to medical problems with 1 in 5 being treated in hospital as a result.

This has led to some doctors calling for the NHS to perform medically unnecessary male circumcisions rather than making it illegal for anyone to carry out unnecessary genital surgery on boys – as is the case for girls.

At present we cannot say how boys in the UK die as a result of being subjected to medically unnecessary male circumcision sa the connection to circumcision is not always recorded – as this article by campaigner Laura McDonald explains.

You can see previous posts on this issue here:

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About

Glen Poole is Director of the Helping Men consultancy, UK co-ordinator for International Men's Day, host of the National Conference for Men and Boys and editor of the Good Men Project's International Men's Movement section. Follow him on twitter @HelpingMen or find out more about his work at http://helpingmenblog.blogspot.co.uk/

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11 comments on “UK Midwife charged with killing baby boy through circumcision
  1. Susanne.D.Nimes says:

    Are there any moves at the moment to outlaw this absolutely disgusting procedure in the UK?

    It’s about time boys got the same protection as girls.

    No non-consenting person should have unnecessary surgery forced on them. It does not matter if they’re male, female, or intersex. It is THEIR body, and it is THEIR choice.

    I do not personally care how many circumcisions are performed that are “non-religious” compared to religious circumcisions. Both are wrong. There should be no exemption for religious motivation – it is not the child’s religion, and he has not chosen to partake in that religious ritual. He has a right to his body, and he has a right to form his own religious beliefs. It’s utterly sickening that we treat boys with such contempt.

    • glenpoole says:

      Hi Susanne

      There are no plans to outlaw the procedure in the UK

      Medically unnecessary circumcisions are not permitted on the National Health Service – but can be performed in private health clinics or in community settings (eg relivigious communities)

      Personally I’d like to see all medically unnecessary non-consensual circumcision made illegal.
      In the UK that means three things:

      – Working with religious communities to end the practice
      – Working with private health sector to ensure they do not perform medically unnecesary circumcisions
      – Working with all healthcare providers to reduce the number of unnecessary circumcisions performed on ‘medical grounds’ – (there are often alternative non-surgical alternatives to circumcisions performed for ‘medical reasons’)

      Medical circumcision can be beneficial in some rare conditions like phimosis that affect less than 1% of the male population

      I haven met and been in contact with many circumcised men who have been damaged by circumcision and wish it wasn’t done to them

      They say it’s their body and it should have been their choice – and I agree

      In the UK there are 2 organisations working on this issue – NORM UK, Genital Autonomy and Men Do Complain

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts

      Best

      Glen

      • Susanne.D.Nimes says:

        Thanks for your reply, Glen. I know there are many men fighting to put an end to this, and I support them all the way.

        But I do not think it is enough.to “work with” the people responsible for continuing this abhorrent practise. When cultures and religions demand removal of girls’ foreskins, we did not “work with” those cultures. We made it illegal. The same needs to be done with circumcision.

        We need to stop pretending that this is some kind of “choice” for parents and that we need to encourage them to make the right choice. We don’t encourage them to please consider not branding their children, or giving their children genital piercings. We simply make it illegal to violate the child’s rights in such a way.

        It’s interesting that you mention phimosis as a case for circumcision. I’ve known men with phimosis. One has lived a happy, healthy life, completely sexually satisfied, fathering children and having pretty much no complaints. He’s never had any issues – health or hygiene – from not being able to retract his foreskin. The other man I knew was told by his doctor he had “too much” foreskin, so was circumcised, then had to have skin grafts onto his penile shaft, as suddenly, the “too much” skin turned to “not enough” skin. I know which of those scenarios is better…

        Even when a man does want to resolve his phimosis, there are far more conservative treatments. Ultimately, phimosis can only be diagnosed in an adult, at which point it’s up to him and whatever he decides is his right. But no-one should be making any decisions about anyone else’s body when there’s simply no need.

        To think that a totally helpless and totally healthy child died because someone performed surgery on him that he did not need or ask for is just harrowing, and I challenge anyone to defend continuing the practice of circumcision even if this was the only life lost as a result of it.

  2. glenpoole says:

    Hi Susanne

    Agree 100% working with religious communities is not enough and I personally support and end to all unnecessary circumcision (and how we define that is the detail) – however something like 55,000 circumcisions are performed every day globally – about 70% within religious communities – and it will take time to make this practice illegal in every country – so in the meantime working with religious communities to support those within these communities to take a lead on making voluntary change happen is an important part of the shift towards an outright ban

    On whether it is ever medically necessary to circumcise a child – my understanding is that about 90% of medical cases in the UK circumcision could have been avoided and a non-surgical alternative offered- but there are are a small minority of cases where it is better to perform surgery in infancy – I’m not a medical expert and if that’s not the case I am happy to hear otherwise

    Thanks so much for being in touch – if you are in the UK I recommend you consider supporting NORM UK, Genital Autonomy and Men Do Complain (if you don’t already)

    Best

    Glen

    • Susanne.D.Nimes says:

      Hi again, Glen.

      I know of not a single case where circumcision is better performed in infancy, due to the associated risks of surgery on a minor (in terms of anaesthesia, potential infection, penile ablation as a result of operating on such a small body, blood loss and death). There are also more “cosmetic” risks, such as removing too much skin to accomodate the man’s erection when he’s an adult, or the formation of skin bridges and tags. None of those risks are present in adult circumcision, so it’s hard to see what kind of situation would justify taking those risks. This is especially true when the one of the only conditions that may legitimately require circumcision – phimosis, as you mentioned – is impossible to diagnose until adulthood.

      I think I perhaps worded my last comment a little badly, as I don’t think that our efforts should ignore religious communities. It’s obvious that in the short-term, there are not going to be any laws drawn against forced genital cutting. Any voluntary change that can be brought about needs to come from within religious communities, and it’s great that there are movements in both Judaism and Islam to end circumcision. I think it’s important, however, that the goal remains to have the procedure outlawed for those under the age of consent. With female circumcision, laws were brought into place first, and then we set about trying to change attitudes. There seems no reason to not do something similar with male circumcision.

      I am struggling to understand how it is possible, in a developed country, that a parent can sign a consent form to have a healthy child unnecessarily operated on, knowing that one of the risks is death. It beggars belief.

  3. glenpoole says:

    Thanks for you comments Susanne – it’s good to hear other people are passionate about this issue – best Glen

  4. [...] To read more of the case of the Oldham baby boy who died after circumcision CLICK NOW. [...]

  5. [...] inevitably shone the spotlight once again on circumcision with organisations such as NORM-UK and The Men’s Network in Brighton condemning the [...]

  6. Wow Susanne. It is rare to encounter such fervour and awareness in a woman regarding an issue that most men are apathetic about. I salute you and hope that you may feel inclined as Glen suggests to contact NORM UK.

  7. It is encouraging to read that the crime that is hidden by the word circumcision is being debated in the appropriate manner. Thank you Susanne. Thank you also to the Men’s Network. Anyone affected by these issues please get in touch. Richard

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