Why Protestors Had Blood-stained Crotches in Atlantic City, Toms River
TOMS RIVER — They were hard to miss: People dressed all in white, with red stains in their crotch areas.
But a group protesting circumcising boys seen this weekend in Toms River and Atlantic City said that's the point.
This weekend, Bloodstained Men & Their Friends held protests in both communities, arguing that while circumcision is a regularly performed procedure, it's not necessarily. Spokesman Harry Guiremand said the group is on a 21 day tour that will take it from Delaware to Maine and back over the three weeks.
"The issue is that circumcision is an unnecessary and damaging surgery that's been falsely promoted to American parents, and it violates a fundamental human right," he said.
The group argues young boys deserve the same legal protections against circumcision that apply to girls — saying the procedure is forced on infants too young to consent. The group isn't particularly focused on the religious aspect of circumcision "other than to say everyone has the right to their own body, including people whose parents had religious beliefs to the contrary," Guiremand said.
"It's a valuable part of the body with most of the sexual sensitivity in the foreskin, so the part that's cut off has most of the sexual sensitivity," Guiremand said. "Very few men want to lose that. If it weren't being forced on them it would basically disappear."
The CDC says men who are circumcised are less likely to get HIV from women who have the virus, and that circumcision also reduces the risk of getting herpes and HPV. However, the CDC also says there is "no evidence that circumcision decreases the risk of HIV-negative receptive partners getting HIV from a circumcised HIV-positive partner."
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As they held signs and gathered in the two locations, Guiremand said, people definitely noticed the outfits,. He said some people they talked to were "genuinely curious," and wanted to learn more. Others would wave or yell at them, while one person threw a soda bottle at them.
The group shared a video of members discussing their presence with city police officers. While the officers initially said they needed a permit to be demonstrating, a supervisor was seen allowing them to stay as long as they didn't block traffic or the sidewalks.
A spokesperson for the department confirmed that the group was allowed to stay, and called it a peaceful protest. The Toms River Police Department also confirmed getting "a number of calls" about the protest, but said they were within the guidelines of what was allowed.
A third stop on the protest tour is expected to come on Aug. 8 in Newark before it wraps up in Philadelphia the following day.