Is male or female circumcision an outdated religious/cultural practice? Mr. Steven Svoboda, Founder and Executive Director of ARC (Attorneys for the Rights of the Child) will be our guest addressing the issue of genital integrity. ARC is a non-profit organization founded to secure equal protection for, and broaden judicial and public recognition of, children’s legal and human rights to bodily integrity and self-determination. ARC also focuses on female genital mutilation also known as FGM. Compelling reasons exist for strong concern among attorneys and the public about the various types of damage caused by circumcision including pain and suffering, psychological harm, behavioral changes, irreversible reduction or loss of full sexual function, and under-reported tragic complications, including deaths. Has satisfactory medical justification for routine circumcision ever been demonstrated? Join us and find out the facts!
J. Steven Svoboda is founder and Executive Director of Attorneys for the Rights of the Child (ARC), a federally and state-certified non-profit corporation Steven founded in early 1997. Steven graduated summa cum laude from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1983, received a Master's Degree in physics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1985, and then graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1991. Currently in addition to serving as Executive Director of ARC, he works as a patent lawyer in a well-known Bay Area firm and practices human rights law in Berkeley, California. In July and August 2001, Svoboda traveled to Geneva on behalf of ARC to consult with the United Nations’ Sub-Commission for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, making oral and written submissions, the latter of which became part of the official UN record and the first document ever accepted by the UN focusing on male circumcision.
His publications include “A Rose by any other Name: Rethinking the Similarities and Differences between Male and Female Genital Cutting," with Robert Darby, Ph.D.,Medical Anthropology Quarterly, Volume 21, Number 3 (September 2007), pp. 301-323 (a critical examination of the differential treatment given to studies of male genital cutting and female genital cutting), “Gender Equity and Genital Integrity,” in Bodily Integrity and the Politics of Circumcision: Culture, Controversy, and Change (G.C. Denniston et al., eds., Plenum/Kluwer, 2006); “Educating the United Nations about Male Circumcision,” in Flesh and Blood: Perspectives on the Problem of Circumcision in Contemporary Society (G.C. Denniston et al., eds., Plenum/Kluwer, 2003); "The Limits of the Law: Comparative Analysis of Legal and Extralegal Methods to Control Child Body Mutilation Practices,” in Understanding Circumcision: A Multidisciplinary Approach to a Multidimensional Problem (G.C. Denniston et al., eds., Plenum/Kluwer, 2001); and "Prophylactic Interventions on Children: Balancing Human Rights with Public Health," with Frederick M. Hodges and Robert S. Van Howe, in the Journal of Medical Ethics, October 2001.
Steven’s article “HIV and Circumcision: Cutting through the Hyperbole” was published in the November 2005 issue of the Journal for the Royal Society for the Promotion of Health. Penn & Teller shot a full-length feature on male circumcision broadcast in 2005 in which Svoboda’s and ARC’s work are prominently featured. Steven is the circumcision correspondent for KKZZ in Ventura, California, having appeared on that radio station numerous times.
Over several years and with the assistance of volunteer attorneys, ARC put together a compilation of worldwide statutes regarding FGM. ARC cooperates with numerous other organizations to leverage its work to protect both male and female genital integrity. In 2002 he received the Human Rights Award for his work with ARC from the International Symposium on Human Rights and Modern Society. ARC’s work has been recognized by Harvard Law School, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Men’s Health Magazine, and numerous other well-known organizations and publications. He has represented plaintiffs in several state and federal lawsuits to protect genital integrity.
Steven coauthored a gender studies textbook with Dr. Warren Farrell and Dr. James Sterba, published in 2008 by Oxford University Press and entitled, Does Feminism Discriminate Against Men?: A Debate. Steven is also Public Relations Director and Board Member of the National Coalition of Free Men (NCFM), the world’s largest and oldest men’s rights organization. He has published over 150 reviews of books relating to masculinity and men’s rights, and is a long-standing columnist for GRIP Magazine, having published over 40 installments of his column entitled, “Gender, Law, and Fatherhood.” He is a patent lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area and an expert tournament chess player. He also likes dancing and being silly. Steven is a proud husband of a pediatrician and a proud father of a boy and a girl.
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