Mum opened nappy to find son had been circumcised

By Caroline Lowbridge
BBC News

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe mother said she "felt hysterical" and had to leave the room after opening her son's nappy (stock image)

A mother has described the distress of discovering her baby son had been circumcised without her consent.

The woman, from Nottingham, said she opened her son's nappy to find him covered in blood - and was so distraught she had to leave the room.

She has battled for four years for authorities to take action.

Three people have now been arrested, including a 61-year-old man - thought to be a doctor - on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent.

"I opened the nappy and I ended up having to leave the room because I felt hysterical," said the mother, who did not want to be identified.

"It was just awful really, it wasn't very nice, there was all blood there and stuff."

'Boys not protected'

The boy was circumcised in July 2013 when he was three months old, and apparently staying with his paternal grandparents, who are Muslim.

His mother originally contacted social services, then contacted Nottinghamshire Police on 24 November 2014.

There was an investigation but the force deemed it not to be a criminal matter, and the case was referred to the General Medical Council.

The mother later got help from the anti-circumcision group Men Do Complain and leading human rights lawyer Saimo Chahal QC, who wrote to Nottinghamshire Police.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionPolice reopened the investigation after human rights lawyer Saimo Chahal QC wrote to them

However, the mother believes it amounts to MGM or "male genital mutilation", and should be viewed in the same way as female genital mutilation (FGM).

"It's even illegal to dock dogs' tails. I've come home crying my eyes out thinking a dog has got more rights than my child.

"There's something seriously not right with it all. You can protect a dog, you can protect a girl, but not a boy."

After the letter from Ms Chahal, police reopened the investigation and arrested three suspects, including the 61-year-old man, on 21 June.

The other two suspects - 44-year-old man and 47-year-old woman believed to be the boy's paternal grandparents - have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit grievous bodily harm.

About circumcision

image copyrightGetty Images
  • Male circumcision is the removal of the foreskin - a sensitive fold of skin and other tissue that covers the head of the penis
  • Circumcision was promoted as a way of discouraging masturbation in the past, and was regarded as clean and hygienic
  • Circumcision rates in Europe are low, and it is mostly confined to the Jewish and Muslim communities
  • Three-quarters of American adult men are circumcised - but the number of newborns having the operation is falling as the anti-circumcision movement grows
  • Some argue there is a medical case for circumcision, to reduce the risk of urinary tract infections and penile cancer
  • "Intactivists" argue that circumcision has negative health effects and reduces sexual pleasure for both partners

Police said all three suspects had been released pending further investigation.

In the years since the circumcision, the mother said her son has suffered from recurring infections, and his penis regularly becomes inflamed and sore.

"It looks like he's been half circumcised is the only way to describe it. There's half the skin, it's not all the way over.

"It swells up, it gets red and a little bit sore in places."

She has been given cream to apply to her son and told he may need further surgery when he is older.

Following media coverage about the case, an experienced urologist based in Cambridge has offered to assess the boy and see what can be done to help him.

"When he first started talking he did say a lot that it hurt," said the mother.

"Now he doesn't really say much because it draws attention to it and he's getting a bit more private."

'Lack of empathy'

The boy's mother said the circumcision has affected her, as well as her son.

"As a new mum I didn't know what I was doing with a baby anyway, but now I had that added worry on my mind," she said.

"I was really upset about it. It didn't really get much better from there, it's just been ongoing really."

She said a lot of people have failed to empathise with her and her son.

"Even a couple of police officers have made remarks like 'Oh my husband is circumcised, I think it's better'. Or 'Oh they are tougher than they look, it will toughen him up'. It's just silly little comments like that. It's just heartbreaking.

"I wrote to MPs and they basically shoved me off. Everybody you speak to it's like speaking to a brick wall."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionThe mother supports a global movement against circumcision, and hopes her son's case will raise awareness

The mother said she is relieved that action is finally being taken, and hopes the case will raise awareness.

"I just can't believe that we've actually got to this point now and it's taken four years," said the mother.

"Nobody was listening when I spoke about it and now it's being acknowledged worldwide.

"If anything good can come of what's happened to my son it's raising a little bit more awareness to the suffering that comes, and giving people that are thinking of circumcising their children a bit of understanding about what they are doing."

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