Message from the Executive Director

ARC Newsletter Volume: 
12
ARC Newsletter Issue: 
1
(l. to r.) Son Eli (16), Fiancee Gina Maria Mele, Daughter Sarita (13), Steven Svoboda.

Message from the Executive Director

March 5, 2018

The twentieth anniversary of ARC has come and gone, and the work continues. I’ll say more about this later when the time is right, but—thanks to the hard work of several very talented and brilliant fellow activists around the world--the work with the United Nations is continuing in 2018 that started with the delegation I led to Geneva in August 2001 and the oral and written reports that we put in the official UN record on circumcision as a human rights violation.

What we are discovering is that each year, more articles get written, more organizations get started, and more folks jump into this sometimes demanding yet always compelling work. Later this year, I will be married for the second time, and many of the guests are activists, a few of whom also attended my first wedding.

We continue to get invaluable contributions from our collaborators including Australian correspondent Travis Wisdom, Legal Advisor Peter Adler, Webmaster/Newsletter Editor Aubrey Terron Taylor, Tim Hammond, and a number of board members and behind-the-scene folks.

It’s been another intriguing year. A legislative initiative is happening right now in Iceland and we recently emailed the Icelandic legislators to support the bill. We are also hard at work responding to Brian Morris’ paper (mentioned elsewhere in this issue) In July 2016, the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics (JLME) finally published the paper by ARC Executive Director Steven Svoboda, ARC Legal Advisor Peter Adler, and Bob Van Howe entitled, “Circumcision is Unethical and Unlawful."  The paper is part of a JLME special issue stemming from our unofficial debate victory over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at the Twentieth Annual Thomas A. Pitts Lectureship in Medical Ethics, held at the Medical University of South Carolina in October 2013.  This is the longest and most comprehensive general article I have ever published and we are very happy to finally see it in print. 

We are very pleased that our article in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics about circumcision as iatrogenic (doctor-caused) harm was one of the twenty most cited papers of the year!

On February 5, 2018, an extensive interview with Steven Svoboda by filmmaker Cassie Jaye was released. Included, in Cassie’s words, is “never-before-seen footage” from her interview with Steven conducted in 2013. The video is available at: https://youtu.be/-tQR8paDDr8. I appear briefly in the film prior to a video clip of an infant circumcision. The interview with Steven was the second interview she and her cinematographer mother did in the early days of her work on her stunning film, “The Red Pill” (www.theredpillmovie.comwww.imdb.com/title/tt3686998/).   Her film surveys the men's movement including activism for genital integrity as well as Cassie’s growing sympathy for these movements.

Cassie wrote me to kindly say, “Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed those many years ago. It was a real eye-opener for my mother and myself. Hopefully this video will help more people think twice before electing neonatal circumcision.” There was a monumental personal side to a showing of the film followed by a question and answer session in which I participated, held on November 6, 2016 in San Rafael, California. An audience member, Gina Maria Mele, came up to me during the Q and A session and we struck up a conversation and now we are engaged to be married on July 28, 2018. Gina and I have are excited that Fred Hayward, who was also a participant in the Q and A session and was prominently featured in the movie, has volunteered to officiate at the wedding.

The attachment is a picture of (left to right) Steven, Cassie, author Warren Farrell [prominently featured in the film], and Fred, taken at a red carpet ceremony that preceded the November 6, 2016 showing of the film.Photos and a quick summary appear in this issue regarding my presentation entitled, “Genital Autonomy and Gender Equity,” presented on September 13, 2017 in San Diego at the fortieth anniversary conference of the National Coalition for Men (NCFM). As mentioned elsewhere in this issue, last year saw prosecutions being undertaken in Michigan of three individuals—two physicians and the wife of one of the two physicians--involved in female genital cutting.

We hope you enjoy this newsletter, which includes: 1) photo reports by Travis Wisdom regarding three ground-breaking conferences in which he participated in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide; 2) book reviews of important new books including Hida Viloria's fascinating intersex memoir and David Lane's important book on a faith-based approach to the medical ethics and law behind genital autonomy; 3) longtime activist and ARC friend Dionne Deschenne writing about her history of activism and her recent return to the fold; 4) a fascinating opinion piece by a longtime activist writing anonymously; 5) news reports; 6) ARC updates; and more.

ARC released video from the Charleston debate last year, to complement the audio clips released in 2016, showing that the AAP doesn't know the functions of the foreskin and believes children do not have human rights.  Top filmmaker Eliyahu Ungar-Sargon prepared the videos, working closely with ARC.

For the past eighteen years, we have been put out the newsletter so as to keep intactivists and their supporters updated on pertinent events throughout the movement to protect children from genital cutting and frankly, so as to keep spirits high through this often challenging work.   Our newsletter continues to be carried by all three of the top content providers that electronically provide journals to libraries throughout the world!  These three are ProQuest, EBSCO and Cengage (formerly Gale).

Personally, it continues to be and I imagine always will be the children who inspire me to continue dedicating our intellect, and spirit to this work.  

Thanks ever so much to everyone for your invaluable support over the years, whether it be financial, emotional, logistical, as colleagues, or a combination of these roles.  Each of you makes it possible for us to continue to do this work. 

Fully tax-deductible donations that are entirely applied to protecting children can be sent to J. Steven Svoboda, ARC, 2961 Ashby Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94707, or made through paypal at our website (www.arclaw.org/arc_donate) or using the paypal address sarah@arclaw.org for payments from a credit card and arc@arclaw.org for payments from a bank account. Also please note that if you buy anything from amazon and bookmark your starting page as http://www.amazon.com/?&tag=arc-20&camp=14721&creative=385805&linkCode=hom&adid=11CYB7JHVS05VPZ0AJCS& (this URL can also be accessed from our donations page at www.arclaw.org by clicking on the box labeled "Amazon.com" (not "Amazon Smile"), ARC will receive a hefty 4-6% of all your purchases, which can add up very quickly to substantial support for our work to protect children.  

Steven Svoboda

Attorneys for the Rights of the Child