Critics say non-therapeutic circumcision in the UK is unethical and puts infant boys at risk of serious injury
Amazon has removed circumcision training kits from its UK website after complaints that they normalised unnecessary and risky practice.
The infant circumcision training kits were offered for sale by ESP through Amazon, retailing at between £365.16 and £456.60. It included a model of a boy’s genitals made from “lifelike” material, plus scissors and scalpels.
Amazon UK withdrew the kits from sale after being urged to do so in a letter from the National Secular Society (NSS).
Dr Antony Lempert, the chair of the NSS’s secular medical forum, wrote: “Male circumcision in the UK is wholly unregulated and we fear that the sale of this product may encourage unqualified practitioners to carry out unnecessary surgery on infants in non-clinical conditions, resulting in serious harm.
“Non-therapeutic circumcision is unethical and unnecessary and is putting infant boys at risk of death and serious injury. This practice could be encouraged by the morally negligent sale of infant circumcision training kits to the public.”
Amazon confirmed on Wednesday it had removed the products. The kits, available in a variety of colours, were advertised as “made with soft, lifelike material, which is pliable, delicate, and realistic to the touch”. Associated accessories could be purchased separately. Similar kits remain for sale on Amazon’s US site.
Lempert said the sellers had misrepresented the health benefits of circumcision. “No medical association in the world actively recommends routine infant male circumcision for health reasons,” he wrote. “Any associated claims for medical benefit of surgical training equipment should be accurate.”
Ritual male circumcision is practised by Jews and Muslims. The British Association of Paediatric Surgeons advises there is rarely a clinical reason for circumcision and that it should always be performed by, or under the supervision of, doctors trained in children’s surgery.
In January 2015 the head of the family division of the high court in England and Wales, Sir James Munby, said non-therapeutic infant male circumcision caused “significant harm” to boys.
The practice has been linked to serious injuries and deaths. In 2009, Birmingham children’s hospital’s A&E department admitted 105 boys for circumcision related injuries. In 2011, the hospital admitted 11 boys aged from newborn to one year old to its paediatric intensive care unit with life-threatening complications directly caused by circumcision.
The NSS campaigns for non-consensual, non-therapeutic circumcision to be outlawed and its chief executive, Stephen Evans, welcomed Amazon UK’s decision to stop selling the kits.
He said: “No child should be subjected to unnecessary medical surgery. The morally negligent sale of infant circumcision training kits to the public normalises this form of abuse and risks encouraging it.
“A growing number of medics and lawyers are questioning forced genital cutting and recognising the need to safeguard boys from this unethical practice. Religious freedom is not an absolute right and certainly doesn’t justify the amputation of healthy, functioning body parts from babies’ bodies.”