Informal Survey of Prisoners Reflects Variety of Attitudes about Infant Circumcision
The following letter was a result of this individual requesting information from Rosemary about infant circumcision:
“I was amazed at (the) thought of circumcision being child abuse. I chuckled at it and mentioned it to friends. Surprisingly they agreed with you. It was suggested that I bring (the idea) to some meetings here. I am involved with the Sex Offender’s Program in the Mental Health Unit at Somers Prison. So I did and got the following results:
Child Molesters and Incest (Adolescent and Pre-pubic ages): These thought the idea was ridiculous. None accepted the idea and felt it was a waste of time to bring it up. After 20 minutes they voted to let the issue die and end discussion. I guess I thought as I did, as my crime fits into this group.
Victimization Group (victims of sexual assault as children): Agreed wholeheartedly. One even mentioned on his own your group’s conviction – each person has the right to decide (about the alteration of his body) and the child should decide when old enough. There were very strong feelings in favor of that. I had to end the discussion after one hour, but could have gone on as there were still lots of feelings and ideas.
Rapists: Agreed. There was an open discussion. Feelings were not as forceful as they were with the victimization group, but there was general agreement all around.
Murder, sexual basis: Many were very strong against circumcision. There were many emotions and arguments in favor of not having a child cut.
Victims of Rape: Two married people with children both said “never again” would they put a kid through it. Strong feelings were expressed. Only one rapist who saw his son have anesthesia didn’t agree with pain (i.e. the idea that circumcision is painful. – ed.) He wasn’t sure of the reasons for his objections. He had no feelings either way, but would probably choose not to with any future sons.
I couldn’t visit the Parents Anonymous groups. I would have liked to have presented the idea to them and the Child Abuse (physical) group, but couldn’t.
Each group has a maximum of 18 members. No accurate, scientific survey was attempted. Approximately half of each group got involved. No attempt was made to draw the others out. I just presented the idea of circumcision being child abuse and opened it for discussion. No leadership or direction was offered in the group.
William K. Harter
(Personal correspondence with Rosemary Romberg)