Dressed in cowboy hats and white suits with blood-stained crotches and holding signs saying, "How dare you cut his penis?," a group of protestors stood at the corners of Franklin and Columbia streets Thursday to protest male circumcision.
The protestors are part of the nonprofit Bloodstained Men and their Friends, which aims to protect children and future generations from genital cutting. Circumcision is the most medically unnecessary and the most-performed surgery in the United States, according to the group's spokesperson Harry Guiremand.
"We've been doing this for four years and as the years go by people increasingly get it, and their reactions become more positive," Guiremand said. "Most people don't like the idea of injuring their own child and when they learn that circumcision is a worthless injury that's been promoted fraudulently they get it and don't want anything to do with it."
David Wilson, one of the protestors, said he wants to bring awareness to the issue because he wants others to know about the pain he once went through.
"I was appalled when I found out what had happened to me. I'm 64 and when I was in junior or senior in high school, that was something that you didn't talk about because all the boys were cut," he said. "Back then if you started talking about penises, you'd catch hell."
The purpose of today's protest was to raise awareness that this is still a major issue that needs to be addressed, Guiremand said, just as civil rights and women's rights were protested in the past.
"Every human rights organization on Earth recognizes that every human has a right to their own bodies," he said. "This is not controversial. We have laws that say that girls have protections against unnecessary surgeries on their genetaila and of course boys are protected under equal protection under the law, so boys are entitled to the same protections but so far it hasn't been given to them."
The tradition of wearing a bloodstained suit arose after people were not paying enough attention to their cause, Guiremand said. By wearing the striking outfits, it stops people in their tracks.
"The medical community thought they could get away with generation after generation of men against their will because it's hidden and no one sees it," Guiremand said. "By showing the bloodstain we're making it out in the open — we were injured and we're not happy about it."
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