Published Online: 21 FEB 2014
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. All rights reserved.
The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society
How to Cite
Morris, B. J. and Green, E. C. 2014. Circumcision, Male. The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Health, Illness, Behavior, and Society. 253–256.
- Published Online: 21 FEB 2014
Circumcision of males is one of the world's most common and oldest surgical procedures. It is practiced by a wide diversity of cultures worldwide but is also a matter of considerable social and medical controversy. Advocates claim that it has substantial lifetime medical and health benefits, particularly in countries with high rates of HIV, where there is evidence that it may have a protective effect. Critics claim that it is an unnecessary mutilation, particularly when carried out on an infant who is unable to consent to the procedure. In their view, the risk/benefit ratio does not justify the intervention, particularly in developed countries. US doctors have traditionally been more enthusiastic advocates than their counterparts in the United Kingdom and Europe. Social scientists may be called upon to provide accurate information regarding contemporary circumcision practices. There is also a considerable research agenda on the sexual politics of circumcision and the various faith and material interests involved in the controversy over the risk/benefit balance in developed countries.
- medical anthropology;
- preventive health;