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Actor Russell Crowe

A few days ago, actor Russell Crowe criticised the ritual of circumcision on his Twitter account by branding it “barbaric and stupid”.

The topic of male circumcision– the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin (prepuce) from the penis- has remained a contentious debate for centuries.

People choose to circumcise their children for cultural and/or religious reasons and is one of the world’s oldest surgical practices.

The religious history of circumcision in Judaism can be found in the Hebrew bible whereby according to the book of Genesis, God told Abraham to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as an everlasting covenant (agreement between God and His people) in their flesh [Genesis 17:10-14].

In Islam, circumcision is widely practiced and is considered to be sunnah- a practice taught by the Prophet Muhammad that fulfills religious rites and the molding of life according to the will of God.

Circumcision is also customary in most African and West Indian cultures.

During his rant, Crowe, who uses the twitter ID @russellcrowe asked:

“Who are you to correct nature? Is it real that GOD requires a donation of foreskin?” 

Personally, I have nothing against male circumcision as long as it’s carried out when a child is a baby. In fact, I find the thought of an uncircumcised penis a little cringe-worthy.

I remember one of my work colleagues telling me about when he was circumcised at the age of 8. Originally from the Philippines, he triggered his memory back to when he was on holiday there and being against the idea of having a little bit of his pee pee snipped off. His parents had made numerous failed attempts to persuade him to agree to have the procedure and eventually resorted to tricking him to go to the hospital. He described the pain as “excruciating” and told me he wished it had been done when he was a baby so he wouldn’t remember the intensity of the pain. He also talked of the embarrassment he faced having to go out in public only with a cloth wrapped around his lower body for a few days in order to help with the healing. As a common practice in that part of Asia, everyone in the street knew what had happened to him, however, despite going through all of this, he says he’s happy that he was circumcised.

Ancient Egyptian tomb painting of circumcision

One of my husband’s friends had a baby boy late last year. Out of curiosity, I asked the father if he would be getting his son circumcised and his response was “Of course”. ‘Nuff said, I thought and probed no further. Sure enough, within three months the little bubba was foreskin-less. I remember speaking to the mother about it afterward. She, understandably, seemed to have found it quite traumatic herself, let alone the baby. “I couldn’t stay in the room as it was done”, she admitted. “He cried so much. I just wanted to hold him. Luckily he healed within a few days”. She then jokingly remarked: “But now he has a pretty penis”. I couldn’t help but laugh at her latter comment.

The British Medical Journal has published numerous articles concerning the link between male circumcision  and HIV. Medical studies have shown that when carried out by a qualified practitioner and alongside other precautionary measures (such as using condoms etc) circumcision reduces the risk of contracting the HIV virus.

Other independent medical studies conclude that the procedure may decrease the risk of infections, penile irritation as well as cancer of the penis.

Self-studies by circumcised men indicate less sexual dysfunction and an easier ability to maintain penile hygiene, making it cleaner and far more attractive.

In response to a suggestion about circumcision from one of his Twitter followers, Crowe later facetiously wrote: “Hygienic? Why don’t you sew up your ass then?”

Those who are vehemently opposed to circumcision believe that it is a violation of human rights and regard it as a form of mutilation.

Some medics say that circumcised men have a reduced sexual sensation compared to those who haven’t had the procedure because the thousands of fine touch receptors and other highly erogenous nerve endings in the area that is cut off are lost. I think many circumcised men would beg to differ on this.

Other arguments against male circumcision include:

  • If you thoroughly wash daily no hygiene issues should arise;
  • If you’re born with it, it’s meant to be there;
  • Babies can die from the procedure (18 out of 100,000);
  • It’s a traumatic event for your baby that can affect breastfeeding, sleep, and even maternal bonding;
  • It’s outdated and on a steady decline.

After realising that his comments had not only caused offence to thousands of his followers but had also been reported by the media, Crowe issued an apology.

It’s safe to surmise that he hasn’t been circumcised and that has largely shaped his opinion on it but what’s your take on the whole matter? Do you agree with Russell’s comments? Do you prefer your partner to be circumcised or does it make no difference to you?

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The sad news was reported today that British fashion designer Alexander “Lee” McQueen had taken his life. He was found dead at his London home at the age of 40  just days before the start of London fashion week and a month before he was to unveil his new collection at Paris fashion week. His ingenious designs and vision for advancing fashion helped build his well respected brand. The industry has truly lost a great…. You never know how a kind word can save a life. Be there for your family and friends to let them know you care.

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Like millions around the world, I woke up on Tuesday (12th January) morning this week to the news that a devastating earthquake had hit Haiti. The disaster is the worst of it’s kind to strike the country in 200 years.

The Red Cross estimates that 50,000 people have died and 300,000 have been left homeless, with up to three million people injured – a third of the country’s population.

Former Fugees rapper Wyclef Jean’s (above) charity text appeal for victims reached $1m in just a matter of days, with over 200,000 Twitter followers donating to the cause.

Desperate survivors, increasingly frustrated with the delay of international help have turned their anger into to scenes of violence and looting on the streets.

Watching the news has almost become unbearable: seeing so much human suffering and heartbreak. The highly emotive images of dust covered survivors and covered bodies on the side of the roads will be etched in my memory for a while yet to come. I cannot even begin to comprehend what the people of Haiti are enduring, simply because their experiences are not my reality. I only wish that I could physically be there to do my bit for humanity and help.

An acquaintance of mine on Twitter made a very valid point. Haiti gained independence on 1st January 1804, making it the first Black nation-state of it’s kind in the world and 153 years ahead of the next independent Black country 1957- Ghana (it’s even older than some European states). Yet Haiti is one of the most under developed countries of the world and now that it’s infrastructure is virtually destroyed, rebuilding lives will prove to be a painstaking task.

I was totally disgusted by the comments made by famous American televangelist Pat Robertson‘s insensitive comments. According to him the people of Haiti “swore a pact to the devil” and have been “cursed” by his god, and that the Island of Haiti has been cursed by “one thing after the other”, that is why they deserved the quake.

As evangelical pastor Rick Warren quite rightly responded via Twitter:

Labeling any natural disaster as God‘s judgment is nonsense. True “judgment begins with God’s family” 1Peter4:17, not others

My thoughts and well wishes go out to the sufferers of the disaster as well as those involved in the rescue operation.

USEFUL LINKS:

www.dec.org.uk or call 0370 60 60 900

www.yele.org

www.redcross.org.uk

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Lordy, Lordy! From ‘happy slapping‘ to ‘happy splashing’. An investigation has been launched after a video- posted on YouTube– showing a motorist from Devon, England splashing kids at a bus stop, came to the attention of police.

According to officers, the 29 year old female driver got in touch with her local police station a week ago to confess.

The passenger, who admittedly doubles up as a rather facetious commentating cameraman, is heard saying: “Here we go, ready to drench the kids!” A few soaked kids and roughly ten seconds later, he says: “That was brilliant! Awesome!”

Watching the video for the first time, I was a little shocked especially as it looks and sounds like a mean premeditated splash attack but ashamedly I found it hard to contain my laughter.

The driver claims that the children asked to be splashed. Now, I understand that some kids love playing in puddles but this could have ended up as a freak accident. Not only that, but as a holder of a full driving licence, she really should have known better.

Having watched the video a few more times and read reports on the incident, I reckon it was all blown out of proportion.

Take a look at the video below and draw your own conclusion.

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ph20090220010061451819841I was taken aback when I saw the photo (left) of  battered and bruised singer Rihanna that “was taken after Chris Brown [her boyfriend] allegedly beat her”. 

Published on website TMZ, it reveals the facial injuries she sustained during the suposed domestic altercation she had with Chris Brown (aged 18) on February 8th.

There was specualation that the photo may be fake but the tatoos on her left shoulder confirm that it is her.   

Rihanna, whose real name is Robyn Fenty, turned 21 years old on Friday (what a 21st birthday to remember, or not as the case may be), the day the photo was published.

On the Oprah Winfrey Show last year, Chris Brown talked of how he had witnessed domestic violence when growing up and vowed never to lay a finger on a woman. If this incident is true then it sadly seems like a case of (as stated in the Bible) ‘the sins of our forefathers shall be passed on from generation to generation’ thus proving that lessons have not been learnt. 

According to the UK charity Women’s Aid, “1 in 4 women will be a victim of domestic violence in their lifetime- many of these on a number of occasions.”

His career will no doubt be affected. The alledged accusations of attempted murder, apparently mean that if charged, he could be sentensed to 6 years in jail.

Lately, whenever I’ve heard a Chris Brown song, I can’t help but think about the whole furor- taking credit away from the quality recording artist that he is. The incident seems so random and has totally diminished my view of Chris Brown as being the sweet, playful character that I often see on TV.

In a statement Brown said that he was “sorry and saddened” by his arrest and accusation of attacking a woman and is aparently seeking councelling.

I am in no way condoning dometic violence- no one should have to go through that- but there are two sides to every story and for every action there is a reaction. Obviously her injuries are unpleasant and very much the focus of the media but I can’t help but be inquisitive in terms of what actually provoked Chris Brown to react so. ‘Why?’ is the question on my lips and only the two people involved know the answer.    

All is a bit misty at the moment and unresolved legal issues make it difficult to comment freely.

Click on the link for the BBC’s report on the incident.