History of Circumcision

History of circumcision

Prior to the 1900's, western cultures had no tradition of circumcision. Queen Victoria was convinced that the British Royal Family was descended from one of the lost tribes of Israel, and had members of the Royal Family circumcised. Routine circumcision was then popularized in Britain and lasted until the 1950's when it was found to be of no benefit.

Circumcision on BOTH sexes came to the U.S. from Britain in the 1800's as a cure for all sorts of maladies whether imaginary or real. After these reasons were debunked, it fell out of favor for girls but continued for boys, being promoted as a cure for masturbation since it would remove most of the boy's pleasure and disable the penis. It was therefore viewed as a punishment and as a preventive for masturbation. As births started moving from homes to hospitals and from midwives to doctors during the 20th century, circumcision eventually became entrenched as a routine medical procedure after birth in the U.S. Routine circumcision at birth peaked between 1960 and 1989 with an estimated 85% of American male babies being circumcised at birth, dropping off to around 50% today nationwide.

Infant and childhood circumcision is now illegal in Sweden unless there is a clear medical necessity. The rate of circumcision has been falling in European countries for decades and is approaching zero. Recent immigration of Muslims and Jews have raised the rates some, but overall the rates are way down from decades past. There have been no concurrent epidemics in Europe that can be attributed to lowering the rate of circumcision for prevention of infection.

The vast majority of males in the world are NOT circumcised.


History Of Circumcision in the United States

The circumcision rate reached nearly 90% of males born from 1959 through 1971 in the United States.

The United States continues to be the only nation that circumcises a majority of boys in the newborn period on non-religious grounds. Female childhood sexual mutilation has been illegal in the US since 1996 and was criminalized in 1997.

Why then, is it still permissible to sexually mutilate a baby boy? Every boy born should have the right to intact genitals where circumcision for medical reasons is reserved as a last resort instead of being a routine, in-hospital surgery shortly after birth or during any period of childhood.

Like anything where there is a lot of money involved, there is an entrenched pro-circumcision propaganda machine that has a vested interest in keeping foreskins and the intact condition suspect, and continues to make foreskins an endangered body part.


For those interested on a complete history of circumcision, please visit the site of Dr. Robert Darby, a medical historian living in Canberra, Australia.