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Voices — Inayat Hussain

I was nine and a half years old when I was circumcised. It was an extremely painful experience, emotionally and physically, and I’ve carried the pain of that experience with me my whole life. I was old enough at the time that my memory of it is traumatizing to recall. It was horrible.

I am a Muslim, and circumcision is compulsory. There is no way out of it. It should have been done earlier, but my parents were always very busy with farming and delayed it. Finally, at the end of the fourth grade, my brother took me to the hospital. It was a public hospital that charged very little for the procedure.

My penis became erect before the procedure began. Nevertheless, the doctor went ahead and injected the anesthetic into my erect penis to numb the area, and I heard people in the operation theater commenting on the erection. Doing the circumcision while the penis was erect caused degloving, an additional injury that tore a large portion of the skin from the underlying attachments.

After the circumcision was done, I was discharged, but soon after I got home, the surgical site started to bleed. I had to go back to the hospital for more stitches. The anesthetic I was given didn’t work, and the pain was excruciating. The doctor couldn’t understand why I was reacting in pain.

The new stitches he applied left a permanent lump on the side of my penis. For eight weeks, it was so painful that I did not wear pants or underwear, only a cloth wrapped around it. I had to hold my penis while walking because it hurt so much. It took an unusually long time to heal, and I remember going to see a doctor at his home for a follow-up examination for that reason.

For four years, I couldn’t wear underwear because of the painful chafing. It wasn’t until I was 13 and entered high school that I finally was able. Still, after all these years, I can only wear very soft cotton underwear because of the continued chafing.

I’m 53 years old now. My penis is scarred, and it’s not normal looking. I still feel awkward when I’m naked. All these years later, I still feel self-conscious and incomplete during sex. I have always felt that part of my body is missing and that I’ve been robbed of the pleasures and protection that a foreskin would provide.

I have two daughters and I wonder: If I had a boy, would I be able to have him circumcised? My religion requires it, but I can’t ignore the trauma of my own experience. We have progressed so much as humanity, but we still blindly follow religious customs after hundreds or thousands of years without thinking and questioning the rationality. I am unable to talk to anyone about this because of the religious beliefs of my culture. People are not able to comprehend why this procedure is so unjust.

I’m soon to become a grandfather as my elder daughter is expecting a baby boy. I’m afraid just to think that he will be cut in his early life.

Inayat Hussain

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  • Robert Clover Johnson

    Reply May 17, 2024 3:47 pm

    What a horrendous violation of your physical and sexual integrity! You certainly have my sympathy! I’m 79 years old and still suffer daily from my circumcision, even though mine was considered “normal.” No circumcision is normal. All circmcisions, in my opinion, are a mistake. Thank you so much for sharing!

    • Inayat Hussain

      Reply May 23, 2024 3:40 am

      Thank you very much for your sympathy and comments. Yes, you are right no circumcision is considered normal. My grandson was circumcised after one month of birth and I could not even go and see him for a while. I feel so angry and helpless.

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Marilyn Fayre Milos, multiple award winner for her humanitarian work to end routine infant circumcision in the United States and advocating for the rights of infants and children to genital autonomy, has written a warm and compelling memoir of her path to becoming “the founding mother of the intactivist movement.” Needing to support her family as a single mother in the early sixties, Milos taught banjo—having learned to play from Jerry Garcia (later of The Grateful Dead)—and worked as an assistant to comedian and social critic Lenny Bruce, typing out the content of his shows and transcribing court proceedings of his trials for obscenity. After Lenny’s death, she found her voice as an activist as part of the counterculture revolution, living in Haight Ashbury in San Francisco during the 1967 Summer of Love, and honed her organizational skills by creating an alternative education open classroom (still operating) in Marin County. 

After witnessing the pain and trauma of the circumcision of a newborn baby boy when she was a nursing student at Marin College, Milos learned everything she could about why infants were subjected to such brutal surgery. The more she read and discovered, the more convinced she became that circumcision had no medical benefits. As a nurse on the obstetrical unit at Marin General Hospital, she committed to making sure parents understood what circumcision entailed before signing a consent form. Considered an agitator and forced to resign in 1985, she co-founded NOCIRC (National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers) and began organizing international symposia on circumcision, genital autonomy, and human rights. Milos edited and published the proceedings from the above-mentioned symposia and has written numerous articles in her quest to end circumcision and protect children’s bodily integrity. She currently serves on the board of directors of Intact America.


Georganne Chapin is a healthcare expert, attorney, social justice advocate, and founding executive director of Intact America, the nation’s most influential organization opposing the U.S. medical industry’s penchant for surgically altering the genitals of male children (“circumcision”). Under her leadership, Intact America has definitively documented tactics used by U.S. doctors and healthcare facilities to pathologize the male foreskin, pressure parents into circumcising their sons, and forcibly retract the foreskins of intact boys, creating potentially lifelong, iatrogenic harm. 

Chapin holds a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College, and a Master’s degree in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University. For 25 years, she served as president and chief executive officer of Hudson Health Plan, a nonprofit Medicaid insurer in New York’s Hudson Valley. Mid-career, she enrolled in an evening law program, where she explored the legal and ethical issues underlying routine male circumcision, a subject that had interested her since witnessing the aftermath of the surgery conducted on her younger brother. She received her Juris Doctor degree from Pace University School of Law in 2003, and was subsequently admitted to the New York Bar. As an adjunct professor, she taught Bioethics and Medicaid and Disability Law at Pace, and Bioethics in Dominican College’s doctoral program for advanced practice nurses.

In 2004, Chapin founded the nonprofit Hudson Center for Health Equity and Quality, a company that designs software and provides consulting services designed to reduce administrative complexities, streamline and integrate data collection and reporting, and enhance access to care for those in need. In 2008, she co-founded Intact America.

Chapin has published many articles and op-ed essays, and has been interviewed on local, national and international television, radio and podcasts about ways the U.S. healthcare system prioritizes profits over people’s basic needs. She cites routine (nontherapeutic) infant circumcision as a prime example of a practice that wastes money and harms boys and the men they will become. This Penis Business: A Memoir is her first book.