Gender and cultural understandings in medical non-indicated interventions: a critical discussion of attitudes towards non-therapeutic male circumcision and hymen (re)construction.

S. Saharso, Gily Coene

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Hymen (re)construction and non-therapeutic male circumcision are medical non-indicated interventions that give raise to specific ethical concerns. In Europe, hymen repair is generally more contested among medical professionals than male circumcision. Yet, from a standard biomedical framework, guided by the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non- maleficence and justice, circumcision of boys is, as this article explains, more problematic than hymen (re-) construction. While there is a growing debate on the acceptability of infant circumcision, in the case of competent minors and adults the surgery is not questioned. In the case of hymenoplasty, usually requested by a competent patient, it is recommended to perform the operation only after extensive counseling and if there are compelling conditions. The article further explores why attitudes of medical professionals towards both surgeries diverge and seeks to explain how this is largely informed by gendered and socio- cultural understandings. The article further raises critical questions on medical paternalism and the role of counseling.
Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical Ethics
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Fingerprint

Hymen
Male Circumcision
Beneficence
Counseling
Paternalism
Minor Surgical Procedures
Social Justice
Circumcision
Critical Discussion

Keywords

  • gender, culture, male circumcision, hymen (re)construction, Professional Ethics in Medicine

Cite this

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abstract = "Hymen (re)construction and non-therapeutic male circumcision are medical non-indicated interventions that give raise to specific ethical concerns. In Europe, hymen repair is generally more contested among medical professionals than male circumcision. Yet, from a standard biomedical framework, guided by the principles of autonomy, beneficence, non- maleficence and justice, circumcision of boys is, as this article explains, more problematic than hymen (re-) construction. While there is a growing debate on the acceptability of infant circumcision, in the case of competent minors and adults the surgery is not questioned. In the case of hymenoplasty, usually requested by a competent patient, it is recommended to perform the operation only after extensive counseling and if there are compelling conditions. The article further explores why attitudes of medical professionals towards both surgeries diverge and seeks to explain how this is largely informed by gendered and socio- cultural understandings. The article further raises critical questions on medical paternalism and the role of counseling.",
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