Operation CircumzationApril 2, 2008
Pics may be added later but is not guaranteed due to their potentially offensive nature…
It was my first time to join a medical mission. Patients with various complaints were already waiting when we arrived. After a few minutes, we had unloaded the stuff and were ready to start the “free clinic and circumzation”(sic).
The well-meaning folks, of course, meant circumcision. Nevertheless, despite the typo, more than 20 “boys*” lined up for the procedure. Their ages ranged from about 8 to 21. Their demeanors ranged from screaming to silent acquiescence. Their goal: to be men.
Disposable paper and sterilized equipment were hastily produced for the procedure. Antiseptic and gauze were prepared. Prepuces were retracted and exclusive male anatomical parts were inspected.
One boy had what looked like a fungal infection, and had to be sent away. Others had relatively clean parts. Yet there were a few who sported conspicuous smegma. These had to be thoroughly removed, and the area cleaned so as to prevent infection after the circumcision. Syringes filled with anesthesia soon appeared and were promptly injected into specific areas**.
The patients were then ready for the circumcision proper.
Philippine circumcision, at least what we practiced in the mission, is different from the common Western style of circumcision. Whereas Westerners have the entire prepuce or foreskin removed, Filipinos*** only have a dorsal slit, and do not cut off any part of the prepuce.
In my opinion, Filipinos get the best of both worlds. They get the benefits of circumcision i.e. lower penile cancer rate, lower UTI rate, and lower AIDS acquisition rate along with the main benefit of uncircumcision i.e. intact nerve endings which translates to better uhhhm sensation.
Recently, however, there have been calls by Filipinos to stop this practice. They cite the usual Western rhetoric against it. They say that it’s only a religious ritual, and has not been proven to be medically beneficial. They also say that the benefits of circumcision can also be realized in uncircumcised males if they practice good hygiene. IMO, they have a point, but they fail to realize that in the Philippines, circumcision is not done only for medical reasons.
Societal factors play a major part in the practice. Those who are uncircumcised are forever considered less masculine than those who are circumcised. Females also approve of it considering that they feel that it is the only thing that they can “get back at at the boys”****. Plus, circumcision also benefits the future health workers of the country. It is through circumcision that they hone their surgery skills before they perform that risky procedure to save someone else’s life.
Oblivious to the circumcision vs. uncircumcision debate, my companions cut along the dorsal side of the prepuce and stitched the wounds. The procedure looked so easy. I bet I could even make a fine job of it.
*In the Philippines, any uncircumcised male is looked upon by society as still a boy regardless if he has undergone puberty or not.
** You have to see this for yourselves. Otherwise, you might perform it… 😛
*** Perhaps there are some of us who have the German cut.
**** OVERHEARD CONVERSATION FROM A GIRL: Fortunately, we girls don’t have to be circumcised. We already have our menstrual flow, and we also have to bear children. It would be so unfair for us to be circumcised.
SILENT THOUGHT IN MY HEAD: Tell that to the Somali girls.