Letter: Unkind cut

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I read in your newspaper a report by a father about his eight- day-old son, who had part of his penis cut off by a man with no medical training ("My son at the cutting edge", 17 December).

The procedure was not carried out as part of any medical treatment. No anaesthetic was given. Alcohol was administered to the baby after the procedure, supposedly a "primitive anaesthetic". I never heard of an anaesthetic being used after a painful procedure, and in any case alcohol is not a suitable anaesthetic in infants. After the cutting the man sucked the infant's bleeding penis.

The man lied to the parents before the assault by reassuring them that the baby would come through it without any upset. In fact even the father (who endorsed this mutilation) reports that the baby was miserable for "a day or two".

It is not surprising that the mother dreaded the procedure and had to get drunk in order to face the ordeal. She at least understood that her baby was being subjected to a dangerous, unnecessary and painful mutilation, that would permanently rob him of a body part without his consent.

Babies in this country are being subjected to this treatment every week. Where is the NSPCC? Where is the law of England? Is there no protection for these speechless infants? Surely this is child abuse.


Consultant physician