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March 28, 2018
The 11th French Conference on Sexology and Sexual Health took place in Marseille (south of France) from Thursday 15th to Sunday 18th March 2018. Droit au Corps was there with its own booth, the first time our association participated at a public event.
Two of our members, Sophie and Sam, disseminated information to many professionals (French, Belgian and Swiss) who came to meet them: sexologists, psychologists, urologists, gynecologists, midwives and nurses. They were able to further their knowledge on the health of the penis, the anatomy and physiology of the foreskin, the consequences of circumcision and foreskin restoration. Many people expressed their satisfaction at seeing these topics “finally” addressed and expressed their congratulations and encouragement.
We also brought foreskin restoration material (a TLC Tugger device), a ManHood, business cards from our friend website Phimosis ABC, and a foreskin reproduction (HuFo, for Human Foreskin) lent by the association Foregen. We are very grateful to Foregen for this loan as the HuFo attracted many visitors to the booth and generated real enthusiasm.
The poster from the Alerte Excision campaign kindly made available to us by the association Excision, parlons-en! recalls that the mission of Droit au Corps is universalist: “Should the world community not protect all children equally, regardless of their gender?”
The participation of Droit au Corps at this first event is part of the 2018 goal of communicating good practices for penis health and follows the presentation given by our association during the 54th Medical Meeting in Le Havre.
Droit au Corps is pleased with the information disseminated and the contacts established during this event. We thank the organizing committee for its trust, as well as those who made the presence of our association possible by volunteering or making a donation.
INTERVIEW WITH SOPHIE AND SAM
Before the meeting, did you have any fears about speaking publicly about circumcision?
Yes, of course, it’s a taboo subject. It’s simultaneously related to medicine, sexuality, religion, family and tradition, which makes it very difficult to approach.
How did you prepare for your participation at this event?
We prepared ourselves using the vision of our association as a source of inspiration, in order to remain benevolent towards all the participants in all circumstances. Our objective was not to confront but to always listen with full respect for the medical and religious worlds.
Did you intentionally choose to have a man and a woman at the stand?
Yes, of course, because sexuality is represented by men and women with different sensibilities. Circumcision affects the individual directly but also others in his personal sphere, including his mother and partner, who should not be excluded.
Were you afraid of being verbally attacked?
We had imagined this eventuality. But in fact, we were pleasantly surprised by all the positive feedback we received.
What were the most interesting topics for the visitors who came to see you?
Undoubtedly the role and the benefits of the foreskin in male and female sexuality. Almost all the visitors discovered at our booth, thanks to the HuFo, that the foreskin represents 50% of the penis skin and between 50% and 80% of its erogenous zones.
Who came to the stand?
We met mainly sexologists, psychologists, gynecologists, students and trainers. The topic seemed so “surprising” that it even attracted people from the organizational staff, including firefighters and security personnel!
Before meeting you, did the visitors have preconceived ideas about circumcision?
Some had a positive image of circumcision, but the vast majority had a negative image of it, and we heard: “finally someone talks about it”, “it’s about time”, “someone finally dares to describe it as a mutilation” and so on …
What surprised you the most?
The visitors’ astonishment when they discovered the function of the foreskin in male and female sexuality. And also, that all the Phimosis-abc business cards were quickly taken, which illustrates the enormous need for training regarding penis health. We were also surprised by most visitors’ ignorance regarding foreskin retraction age in boys.
What disappointed you the most?
The affirmation from a urologist that the foreskin has no nerve terminals and that there are no consequences to its removal. We were also disappointed by some people who passed in front of our booth with a disapproving look without even talking to us.
Based on this experience, what major argument do you recommend to make progress on this sensitive topic?
Undoubtedly, it is necessary to explain the functions of the foreskin, which are widely unknown. A better knowledge of this organ and its role would greatly contribute to its preservation!
Why do you want to educate healthcare professionals?
Because they are the essential actors in ending ignorance about the points we just mentioned. They must fully fulfill their mission of public information.
In the end, would you say that your mission succeeded if …?
. the silence is broken on this taboo and ignored topic
. each participant communicates the information he or she received during this event
. the debate starts on the conditions for free and informed consent to circumcision
. also thanks to you who are reading this interview!