Circumcision is a medical procedure in which the foreskin of a human male's penis is removed. It is most often an elective surgery and is typically performed on babies and children for cultural or religious reasons. In some cases, circumcision may be implemented as a treatment option for chronic urinary tract infections (UTIs) and other medical conditions.
Circumcision rates around the world
About one-third of males worldwide are circumcised, although the prevalence of circumcision varies significantly by country and culture. It is most common among Muslims and Jews, as it is part of religious law in Judaism and is an established practice in Islam. Circumcision is also standard in the United States and parts of Southeast Asia and Africa, but is rare in Europe, Latin America, and most of Asia. A personal preference in favor of circumcision is more common in Anglophone countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
Countries and territories in which the prevalence of male circumcision is above 99%:
|Gaza Strip||99.9||Western Sahara||99.6|
A 2016 study titled "Estimation of country-specific and global prevalence of male circumcision" compared data for circumcised mature males in 237 countries and territories around the world. 12 countries (listed above) tallied circumcision rates higher than 99%, while more than fifty additional countries posted rates of less than 99% but still above 90%. These include Israel, the Philippines, Algeria, Bangladesh, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Samoa, Cote d'Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Nauru, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan (see full data set in table at page bottom). On the other end of the spectrum, circumcision was especially uncommon in European countries (typically 10% or less) as well as Latin American countries and the Caribbean Islands (less than 1%).
Circumcision in the United States
According to a CDC study, male circumcision rates in the United States for newborns decreased between 1979 and 2010 from 64.5% to 58.3%. It is estimated that the overall rate of circumcision in the United States is approximately 80.5%.
Controversy over circumcision
Although circumcision of babies and children is common in many cultures, opponents of the act have raised ethical and legal questions regarding its lack of informed consent and an arguable violation of human rights. Some of the world's major medical organizations argue that elective circumcision has health benefits which outweigh the minimal risks associated with the procedure. In contrast, other medical groups decline to recommend circumcision, saying that more evidence is needed to prove that the procedure is beneficial. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the consideration of circumcision as part of a comprehensive HIV prevention program in areas with high rates of HIV, such as the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.