A landmark achievement that intactivists grope for is legislation that would give male minors equal protection under the law. That is, that forced male genital mutilation, particularly the circumcision of healthy, non-consenting minors, be banned and made illegal. As of 1996, a federal ban on female genital mutilation prohibits any and every genital cut performed on girls for any reason, and there is no exempt for religions or cultures where female circumcision is considered an important tradition.
I've already mentioned it in a recent post, but the way things stand now, I think the world isn't ready for a ban on male infant circumcision. It was easy to enact legislation that bans female circumcision because it is not a custom in this country for girls to be circumcised. It's always easy to ban something that people already consider barbaric. Much groundwork has to be laid before this country is ready to ban the forced genital mutilation of male minors. It's not going to happen overnight. "Baby steps," as some put it.
Recently I was giving the issue of legality some thought, and I got to thinking about a hypothetical situation; what if, instead of a ban, circumcision were allowed to legally continue, but we enacted legislation that lowered the statutes of limitation, and gave men that grow up to resent the fact that they were circumcised the right take their circumcisers to court?
That's right, no ban. Instead, doctors could keep right on circumcising, and mohels and imams could go right on circumcising, with the acknowledgment that they could one day be legally taken to court by any of the boys they circumcise?
It is often said that most, if not all circumcised men, are happy and content with their lot, but I wonder, how much of this is true? How many would seek legal redress if they possibly could? How many circumcisers would stop if they knew they could face legal consequences one day?
There is a federal law against the forced genital cutting of females enacted in 1996, and the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution already guarantees equal protection for both girls AND boys under the law. Coupled with the fact that reaping profit from performing non-medical surgery on healthy, non-consenting individuals already constitutes medical fraud, the forced genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting boys should already be illegal and against the law.
A big part of the problem is that doctors and religious circumcisers don't have to face any consequences for their actions. If any of the boys they circumcised grow up to resent having been so, they could sleep at night knowing that short of huffing and puffing and gnashing their teeth, there is nothing they can do.
Well, what if instead of a direct ban, intactivists worked to make it legally possible for men of any age to take their circumisers to court? Legally lift statutes of limitation so that adult men can seek legal redress for the unnecessary mutilation inflicted on them? Make it legally required for each circumcision to be documented with the name of the circumciser and child, so that that person has legal access to this information as an adult, in case there is something he'd like to do about it?
The law could start requiring doctors to keep a record of an illness or medical condition that necessitates surgery, what methods of treatment were tried over time before circumcision was considered as a last resort, to ensure that only doctors who performed medically necessary procedures have a legit defense. (A legit medical reason is usually required for any other medical surgery performed on a non-consenting minor!!!) This would ensure that only medically necessary circumcisions were being performed.
The law would also required that this information be kept available to a child when he grows older, and keeping this information from a child would also mean legal repercussions for keeping information a grown person would be legally entitled to.
If current laws mean anything, the forced genital cutting of healthy, non-consenting males should already be illegal, but current laws are toothless and there is nothing a grown man can do to challenge his doctor or circumciser in court.
I think a law like this would give doctors and other would-be circumcisers something to think about, and we'd see a definite drop in the number of circumcisions being performed annually in this country.
While a ban is a long ways off, I don't think a legislative solution is completely out of the question. I think intactivists ought to start considering smaller victories that could achieve the end result they want, which is to stop the forced genital mutilation of healthy, non-consenting minors.
I agree that this is the obvious and much more politically feasible solution in the US at the moment. It has the advantages of not banning the procedure outright (so it would be harder for religious conservatives to paint this as an attack on religious freedom or the 1st Amendment), and it doesn't require getting circumcised men to accept that circumcision is a mutilation necessarily (which can be very difficult for many men to accept). It's merely saying that those who don't like this particular alteration of their bodies can now effectively seek legal redress for it--just like they can with any other medical procedure that turns out wrong (of course, legally the same applies to infant circumcision, too; it's just that, as you point out, the fact that it's performed on children and the strict statute of limitations makes suing for circumcision hard to do at the moment). It calls doctors on their bullshit that this is a beneficial procedure that hardly anyone objects to--becasue if that were indeed true, then they should have nothing much to fear from giving aggrieved circumcised men an expanded right to sue (since if what the doctors say is true, there should be hardly anyone who bothers about suing them for something that is so clearly beneficial). I suspect, however, there would may be evidentiary hoops that aggrieved circumcised men would have to jump through under this proposed cause of action to prove that they really do experience their circumcision as a harm (in order to prevent just any cut man from successfully suing to get some cash even if he likes his circumcision). But I think that could be taken care of by showing a history of social media posts about the issue or a history of intactivism, along with other things perhaps.ReplyDelete
Of course, circumcision proponents will immediately recognize this as an attack on circumcision (which it obviously is), and will fight it tooth and nail. But they will have a lot weaker arguments at their disposal when they do, which is what makes it such an ingenious weapon for us.