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Circumcision and Clitoridectomy

Updated on July 17, 2015

Clitoridectomy and Circumcision Controversies

Genital mutilation for both male and female are tribal cultural practice that followed from ancient period mainly in African countries. However, religion especially Islam spread genital mutilation throughout the world. Genital mutilation became a serious question in this contemporary era and scholars and physicist converse against both male and female mutilation. There are different ways of male and female genital mutilation but Clitoridectomy for female and Circumcision for male are the most practiced genital mutilation. In my paper, I will focus on the controversies related to Clitoridectomy and Circumcision from the resource of contemporary writing.


Clitoridectomy or Clitorectomy is the surgical removal of clitoris. It is included into Female genital mutilation (FGM). From the definition of World Health Organization (WHO), Female Genital Mutilation is "all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural, religious or other non-therapeutic reasons.” According to WHO there are four ways of female genital mutilation. First one is Clitoridectomy; “Partial or total removal of the clitoris and/or the prepuce”. Second one is Excision; “Partial of total removal of the clitoris and the labia minora, with or without excision of labia majora.” and third one is Infibulation; “Narrowing of the vaginal orifice with creation of covering seal by cutting and appositioning the labia minora and/or the labia majora, with or without excision of clitoris.” This practice is followed mostly in African subcontinent’s country and some South East Asian countries that we see from the world map.


Male genital mutilation is surgical removal of external part of male genitalia. There are many ways of male genital mutilation. Four of them are given below:

  • Type I, Circumcision: Removal of prepuce (foreskin) beyond the glands
  • Type II : Remove all Prepuce
  • Type III : Remove all skin (include scrotum)
  • Subincision: in which underside of the penis is incised and the urethra slit open lengthwise, from the urethral opening towards the base. (Traditional practice particularly in aboriginal Australia)

Circumcision came from a Latin word circumcidere meaning “to cut around.” According to WHO, Circumcision “is the surgical removal of the foreskin (prepuce) from the human penis.” Circumcision is practiced all of the Muslim and Jew living countries.

Consequences of Clitoridectomy:

The clitoris is a tiny outcrop of erectile tissue of the female reproductive system. It contains thousands of nerve endings that make it an extremely sensitive organ. Consequences of Clitoridectomy is one of the prominent issue of World Health Organization and this organization tries to ban this practice because this surgery is mostly happen in victim’s teenage without valuing their consent. As I explain before that Clitoridectomy decrease sensation of the reproductive system and she will never feel orgasm in her life, again she will face complications in her childbirth. Sometime this procedures can cause infection and sometimes Death trough bleeding.

Consequences of Circumcision:

According to Dr. James L. Snyder M. D., F. A. C. S. President of the Virginia Urological society, Foreskin protect the glans like eyelid protect eyes. It keeps the glans moisturized and soft with emollient oils. Glans become unprotected and become rough. Circumcision also decreases the sensation male genitals because foreskin has sensitive receptor nerve ending and researchers found that circumcision causes early Impotence. Skin Bridge (Penile skin adhesion where some fiber band with glan) is one of the most common problem that face circumcisied man and the procedures of circumcision can cause infection, sometimes Death through bleeding. It is a violation of rights of autonomy because this practice happens from new born to teenage boys without getting their consent.

Traditional Background:

Both Clitoridectomy and Circumcision are ritual practice in certain tribes in Africa and Arab such as in Africa Pokot tribe. Clitoridectomy and Circumcision are often seen as a rite of passage that makes girls and boys eligible for marriage. Clitoridectomy is associated with cultural ideals of femininity and beauty, seen to get free girls of their "unclean" and "male" body parts from their body. Clitoridectomies are performed on intersex newborns to make their genitalia more "understandable". On the other hand Circumcision also associated with ideals of masculinity and adolescent boys to symbolize their transition to warrior status or adulthood. (Marck, J .1997)

Religious Background (Judaism):

Circumcision is an initiation rite for Jewish newborn babies. This usually takes place in a ceremony called a Brit (or Bris) milah witnessed by family and community members. Milah is Hebrew for Covenant of Circumcision. The religious origin of the Jewish practice of circumcision is written in the Torah where God promised Abraham,

9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 ” (Genesis 17: 9-14)

However, circumcision is not universal among Jews either inside or outside the United States corrently. The Circumcision Resource Center, a nonprofit educational organization, knows of hundreds of Jews in Europe, South America, and in the United States who either have not or would not circumcise a son. Even in Israel some Jews do not circumcise. (Eichner, I., "Every Circumcision is Unnecessary," Yediot, 6 May 1997, 23.)

Religious Background (Islam):

Although the Qurʾān is silent on both Clitoridectomy and Circumcision. The question of Clitoridectomy and Circumcision does find some expression within the ḥādīṯ of Sunnī Islām;

The Mālikī jurist ʿUbaid Allāh ibn al-Ḥusain ibn al-Jallāb (d. 988): “Circumcision is sunnah for men and women.” Cited in: Abu-Sahlieh, ‘Muslims’ Genitalia in the Hands of the Clergy’, p.138.

Someone said to al-Jarrāḥ, “The people are rushing to accept Islam in order to avoid the poll tax, so test them by requiring that they submit to circumcision.” Al-Jarrāḥ conveyed this suggestion to ʿUmar, who wrote back, “God sent Muḥammad in order to summon people to Islam, not to circumcise them.”” (Ṭabarī, V.24, p.83)

It seems to imply that circumcision and Clitoridectomy are not obligatory or customary for Muslims.

In conclusion, in Clitoridectomy and Circumcision operation the natural part of the body on the shake of religion and disabling people from their natural ability what they deserve and make a disable society to become servant of their god. Ironically, the historical explanation, dating from Herodotus that Male circumcision was practiced during the period of enslavement. (Dunsmuir WD, Gordon EM . “The History of Circumcision”. 1999)

Work Citation:

"Classification of Female Genital Mutilation." WHO. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

"Classification of Female Genital Mutilation." WHO. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Geneva: UNAIDS, 2007. ISBN 978 92 4 159616 9 (WHO); ISBN 978 92 9 173633 1 (UNAIDS). 35 pp.

Lissauer T, Clayden G (October 2011). Illustrated Textbook of Paediatrics, Fourth edition. Elsevier. pp. 352–353. ISBN 978-0-7234-3565-5.

Rudolph C, Rudolph A, Lister G, First L, Gershon A (18 March 2011). Rudolph's Pediatrics, 22nd Edition. McGraw-Hill Companies, Incorporated. p. 188. ISBN 978-0-07-149723-7.

Sawyer S (November 2011). Pediatric Physical Examination & Health Assessment. Jones & Bartlett Publishers. pp. 555–556. ISBN 978-1-4496-7600-1.

American Academy of Pediatrics Task Force on Circumcision (2012). "Technical Report". Pediatrics 130 (3): e756–e785.doi:10.1542/peds.2012-1990. ISSN 0031-4005. PMID 22926175.

Hay W, Levin M (25 June 2012). Current Diagnosis and Treatment Pediatrics 21/E. McGraw Hill Professional. pp. 18–19. ISBN 978-0-07-177971-5.

Dunsmuir WD, Gordon EM (1999). "The history of circumcision". BJU Int 83 (Suppl. 1:1–12): 1–12. doi:10.1046/j.1464-410x.1999.0830s1001.x. PMID 10349408.

Marck, J (1997). "Aspects of male circumcision in sub-equatorial African culture history".Health Transit Review 7 (supplement): 337–360. PMID 10173099

[Meir J. Kister, ‘“…And He was Born Circumcised…”: Some notes on circumcision in Ḥadīth’, Oriens, Volume 34 (1994), p.12: “As there is no special verse in the Qurʾān enjoining the circumcision, commentators of the Qurʾān strove to find some indications in the Qurʾān implying that God enjoined Ibrāhīm to carry out the circumcision.”

Buḵārī #5889, Buḵārī #5891, Buḵārī #6297, Muslim #597, Muslim #598, Abū Dāwūd #54, Tirmiḏī #2756, Nasāʾī #9, Nasāʾī #10, Nasāʾī #11, Nasāʾī #5227, Nasāʾī #5046, Nasāʾī #5047, Ibn Mājah #292, Ibn Mājah #294, Mālik #49.3:3.

Muslim #781, Tirmiḏī #108, Tirmiḏī #109, Ibn Mājah #608, Ibn Mājah #611, Mālik #2.18:73, Mālik #2.18:74, Mālik #2.18:75, Mālik #2.18:77, Mālik #20.48:161.

Ṭabarī, V.24, p.83

Eichner, I., "Every Circumcision is Unnecessary," Yediot, 6 May 1997, 23.


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