The Darbon Institute is deeply saddened by the loss of a young Perth boy’s life, and extends its well wishes to his brother who is currently fighting for his life, both reportedly as a result of circumcision complications.

The circumcision-related death comes ahead of a regulatory review of cosmetic procedures.

In Australia, 10-20% of young boys are still being circumcised. Of these, the vast majority are circumcised so they match their father, with only a minority of circumcisions performed for legitimate medical reasons. 

Circumcision complications include scarring, blood loss, infection, buried penis, penile adhesions, urethral fistula (holes in the tube urine comes out of), meatal stenosis (a narrowing of the urethra that results in a narrow, high velocity stream of urine), kidney failure, penile disfigurement and amputation, gangrene, psychological trauma, and death.

Quotes attributable to Darbon Institute Chair Jonathan Meddings

“No family should lose their child to a medically unnecessary cosmetic procedure. Our health systems and laws must protect young boys from medically unnecessary circumcisions the same way they protect young girls from the medically unnecessary cutting of their genitals.”

“Cut off a girl’s foreskin and you risk going to prison. Cut off a boy’s foreskin and you get to charge a fee. It isn’t right.”

“Every year tens of thousands of baby boys in Australia are strapped to plastic boards to have their foreskin cut off. Some tragically die as a result. Some experience surgical complications. All lose the most sensitive part of their penis and are left scarred for life.”

“There are dozens of private circumcision clinics around the country. Their whole business model rests on profiting from medically unnecessary, harmful procedures that involve cutting children’s genitals. And we know they are wrongly, even fraudulently, claiming Medicare rebates intended only for therapeutic procedures. Why are taxpayers funding the mutilation of children? How have we allowed this to happen?”

“Last month we had the first successful prosecution relating to female genital mutilation in Australia. This month a boy has died from genital mutilation and another is fighting for his life. Why doesn’t the law have anything to say about that?”

“The criminalisation of female genital mutilation sends a strong signal these practices are to be condemned, but the criminal law is ineffective at providing recourse to victim survivors - after decades of these laws being in effect our only successful prosecution hinged on a guilty plea. Our laws against female genital mutilation aren’t fit for purpose.” 

“Intersex people have innate variations in sex characteristics that mean they are not typically male or female. Proposed civil and criminal prohibitions to protect intersex children from non-consensual, medically deferrable alterations of their bodies are important and welcome, but like laws against female genital mutilation they would be discriminatory in that they only seek protect some children based on their sex.”

“We have an opportunity to improve and harmonise our laws through a combination of civil and criminal prohibitions that protect all children - regardless of their sex or gender - from harmful genital cutting and other body modifications. Until we do that, we risk the tragic loss of more young lives.” 

“Her body, her choice. His body, his choice. Their body, their choice. It’s that simple.”

For more information

Jonathan Meddings | Chair | Darbon Institute

[email protected] | +61 437 435 091 |

Download a PDF of this release.