In ancient civilizations, the removal of the human penis was sometimes used as a gesture of superiority or dominance for an enemy. Armies were sometimes known to sever the penises of their enemies to count the dead, as well as for trophies. The practice of castration (removal of the testicles) sometimes also involves the removal of all or part of the penis, generally with a tube inserted to keep the urethra open for urination. Castration has been used to create a class of servants or slaves called eunuchs in many different places and eras.
In the modern era, removing the human penis for any such activity is very rare and unheard of (with some exceptions listed below), and references to removal of the penis are almost always symbolic. Castration is less rare, and is performed as a last resort in the treatment of androgen-sensitive prostate cancer.
Some men have penile amputations, known as penectomies, for medical reasons. Cancer, for example, sometimes necessitates removal of all or part of the penis. In some instances, botched childhood circumcisions have also resulted in full or partial penectomies.
Genital surgical procedures for trans women (transgender or transsexual women) undergoing sex reassignment surgery, do not usually involve the complete removal of the penis; part or all of the glans is usually kept and reshaped as a clitoris, and the skin of the penile shaft may also be inverted to form the vagina. When procedures such as this are not possible, other procedures such as colovaginoplasty are used which do involve the removal of the penis.
Issues related to the removal of the penis appear in psychology, for example in the condition known as castration anxiety. Others, who associate the organ with rape and male dominance and aggression, may consciously or subconsciously see the organ (their own or those of others) as a weapon and express a hatred for it, potentially desiring to see it violently removed.
Some men have undergone penectomies as a voluntary body modification, thus including it as part of a body dysmorphic disorder. Professional opinion is divided regarding the desire for penile amputation as a pathology, much as all other forms of treatment by amputation for body dysmorphic disorder. Voluntary subincision, removal of the glans penis, and bifurcation of the penis are related topics.
History of involuntary penis removal
In ancient China, for heavy crimes including adultery, "licentious" or "promiscuous" activity, males had their penises removed in addition to being castrated. It was one of the Five Punishments that could be legally inflicted on criminals in China. They were designed to permanently disfigure for life. "Castration", in China, meant severing of the penis in addition to the testicles, after which male offenders were sentenced to work in the palace as eunuchs. The punishment was called "gongxing" (宫刑), which meant "palace punishment", since men castrated would be enslaved to work in the harem of the palace. It was also called "fuxing"(腐刑). Husbands who committed adultery were punished with castration as required under Zhou Dynasty law. While men were castrated, women who committed adultery were punished by confinement. The exact crime was called Gong, and referred to "immoral" heterosexual sex between males and females. The punishment stated- "If a male and female engage in intercourse without morality, their punishments shall be castration and sequestration [respectively]."
The removal of the penis was used as a punishment for men in Heian period Japan, where it replaced execution. It was called rasetsu 羅切 (らせつ), and was separate from castration which was called kyūkei 宮刑 (きゅうけい), which was removal of the testicles. Rasetsu was done voluntarily by some Japanese Buddhist priests to ensure celibacy. Rasetsu was also known in Edo period Japan.
The word rasetsu was made out of the components "ra" from "mara" which meant penis, and "setsu", which meant cutting.
The word Rasetsu was used in Japanese literature.
There have been incidents in which men have been assaulted, usually by their sexual partners, by having their penises severed. The case of John and Lorena Bobbitt, for example, was popularly known for Lorena Bobbitt cutting off the penis of her husband, John, out of rage after he allegedly raped her, though he claimed it was for revenge when she discovered his infidelity. Bobbitt's penis was successfully reattached, and he later had a brief career in pornographic movies.
This was not the first modern case, however. On May 18, 1936, Sada Abe strangled her lover Kichizo Ishida (believed to be at his request, he wanted to die while having sex) and cut off his penis, placed it in her kimono and carried it around with her for days before eventually turning it over to the police. She spent a very brief time in jail, and was granted amnesty in 1940. The penis was last seen at a department store exhibition in 1949. This episode was the basis of the filmIn the Realm of the Senses.
Mutilation or forcible removal of the penis has special symbolic significance. As a symbol of male sexuality, fertility, and masculinity, the removal of the penis may be inspired by a desire to emasculate, and sometimes results in the emasculation of the victim. Another motive, particularly in cases of spousal assault, is sexual.
From 1973 to 1980 one hundred cases of Thai women cutting off their husband's penises were recorded. Most of them were not reattached. Only with eighteen out of the hundred Thai men whose penises were severed was reattachment even attempted, and the reattachments were abysmal. The spate was due to the prevalent practice of Thai men keeping secondary "wives" as sexual partners, which was permitted in traditional Thai culture but currently modern Thai law enforces monogamy. The spate of penis severings was stimulated by Thai women agitating and instigating more women to commit the act.
Most Thai women who cut their husband's penis are not prosecuted. Dr. Surasak Muangsombut is a prominent Thai surgeon known for reattaching penises. He attached 32 penises, most of them cut by wives who drugged their husbands due to adultery. In all of his cases none of the women faced prosecution since the predominant view in Thailand is that the men deserve it.
In 2003, a rise in domestic violence by Chinese women against Chinese men was reported, including beatings and occasionally women cutting off their husband's penis.
In 2006, in Vietnam, a spate of Vietnamese women cutting off their husband's penises due to adultery, alcoholism and abuse was reported in southern Vietnam. All fifteen incidents reported occurred close to Ho Chi Minh City. In twelve of the incidents the penis was rejoined to the body. It was noted that Thailand's many cases of penis severings could have played a role in the events in Vietnam, since the attacks were abnormal for Vietnamese women.
An article titled "Status Quo of Female Criminals in Nanjing" was translated on the All-China Women's Federation's website on July 21, 2008, concerning the rise in young female criminals over the previous three years, numbering 2,140 and mostly aged 35 or younger. Under "Crime Caused by Impulsion", it stated that several incidents in Nanjing in China occurred where Chinese men had their penis severed by their wives. An explanation given by a procurator said "Their reasons are simple. The wife could not bear the fact that her husband is gambling or cheating on her. It is a crime of impulsion in an emotional crisis." It also stated the majority of the women criminals in Nanjing were given lenient jail time or not punished at all.
On August 15, 2008, it was reported in Thailand that a domestic abuse study of the previous decade by Mahidol University uncovered that some Thai men had their penises cut off by their wives due to rampant sexual abuse and other attacks on women.
Treatment and effects of penis removal
Severing the penis without removing the testicles causes intense sexual frustration, since sexual urges and drive originate from the testicles but with no penis there is no way to satisfy them. It is unclear because of the reluctance of victims of penis removal who have undergone penis reconstruction surgery to go to checkups, but acute pain when sitting on a bicycle saddle or other similar surfaces (and perhaps other activities that put much weight on the crotch area) may persist for a long period of time after the surgery, or even permanently.
A study of penis reattachment in China, found that of a group of 50 men, all but one reacquired functionality, even though some involved full reconstructive surgery using tissue and bone. Reportedly some of these men later fathered children.
If reattachment is not an option, doctors can reconstruct a penis from muscle and skin grafted from another part of the body like the forearm. However, a penile implant is needed for erection to be possible, the reconstructed penis would look strange and would either not be able to ejaculate, or ejaculate with less force. The patients are often dissatisfied with the reconstructed penis. Standing during urination is an advantage offered by a reconstructed penis. If penis reconstruction is not done, the patient would have to squat in order to urinate since doctors reroute the entrance of the urethra to below the scrotum.
On October 1, 1923, in Russia, a man's penis was severed by his 24-year-old wife, Anastasia E., after he cheated on her and gave her a sexually transmitted disease.
In the 1930s, in China, the Chinese press reported that a man who was cheating on his wife had his penis severed by her. It was considered too sensitive to run the story in the English language Shanghai media.
In April 1979, in Toronto, Canada, a taxi driver was killed by seventeen-year-old Susan Lynn Wood, after which she severed his genitalia.
In April, 1980, in Los Angeles, USA, a boy, eight years old, who returned from school to his home angered his father because he was late. His penis was then sliced off and flushed by his father down a toilet. After a 90 minute hunt, the penis was located and retrieved from the sewers by police and firemen. 180 metres away from the house, a wire mesh was set up at a location and the penis was forced toward the mesh by water pressure. Dr. Howard Frydman and his team operated on and reattached the penis. The boy's father was imprisoned.
On October 22, 1985, in Sydney, Australia, a 5-year-old Cambodian boy had his penis reattached after his forty-year-old mother severed it. The mother thought that her husband's spirit was inside the penis.
In 1986 in the New Territories of Hong Kong, a Chinese man named Au Siu was asleep when his first wife used a knife to sever his penis. Au and four women, including his first wife, were living in the same hut and his wife cut his penis because he was having an affair with another one of them. Dr. Peter Chan of the Prince of Wales Hospital reattached his penis. Dr. Chan also performed penile reconstruction on another Chinese man in the New Territories after his former wife cut off his penis and flushed it down the toilet.
On May 21, 1987, it was reported that on May 18, 1987, Monday, in Manila, Philippines, thirty five-year-old Rogelio Mejes was drugged by his pregnant girlfriend who then severed his penis at a motel. She did it because he advised her to get an abortion.
In 1987, in Hong Kong, 40-year-old Lin Yuk-sang was sleeping while his 39-year-old wife Tsui Mei-ying used scissors to sever a portion of his penis and flushing it in the toilet afterwards, due to his infidelity.
In 1989, in Thailand, a man's penis was cut off by his wife. She cooked it in a soup after she used a meat grinder on it.
On March 12, 1991 it was reported that on March 11, 1991, in Hong Kong, a 35-year-old Chinese man was asleep when his wife used scissors to sever his penis, which woke him up. The penis was flushed into the toilet by the woman, and the man was brought to the hospital.
On June 20, 1992, in Shanghai, China at the Shanghai Children's Welfare Institute a girl hurt a five-year-old Chinese boy named Wei Zhi when she used scissors and almost sliced off his penis, while they were left alone. The injury was severe, gangrene set in after his penis was stitched, causing him to lose a part of the organ; more stitches were then added.
On July 15, 1992, in Singapore, a 20-year-old maid was sentenced to imprisonment for six months after she used matches to burn the penis of a 4-year-old Chinese boy, Lin Jingchuan, because he urinated on his bed.
In September, 1992, in Bangladesh, Abdul Motaleb was tricked by his ex-wife Sharmin Begum into visiting her house, where he was ambushed by several persons who restrained him while Begum severed his penis. Begum was arrested by the police.
In October, 1992, in Nakhodka, Russia, 25-year-old Vasily's penis and testicles were sliced off by his lover Tamara, 35 years old. She used a knife, and the doctors were unable to reattach the organs. She was upset that they were breaking up, since Vasily felt she was too old for him.
On September 29, 1993, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, a Chinese taxi driver, Tai Kit Lim was attacked by a woman who used a penknife to sever his penis while trying to rob him. He was brought to Kuala Lumpur General Hospital and treated for his injury, having survived the attack.
In February, 1994, in Xinyang, Henan, China, the Tianjin Today Evening News reported that a 27-year-old Chinese man, Hu Changfa, had his penis severed by his wife Zhang. She committed suicide after cutting it due to Hu's gambling addiction.
In 1994, in Henan, China, an infant Chinese boy bled to death when his six- and seven-year-old sisters used a paring knife to sever his penis, since they took their father Wang Tianbao seriously after he joked about cutting off his son's penis, since his family was fined for having a boy when they already had two daughters due to China's One Child policy. The girls were then killed by Wang before he committed suicide.
In May 1994, Hong Kong, a 43-year-old Chinese man, Wong Cheong-do has his penis severed by his wife during an argument. The penis was reattached.
On October 6, 1994, in Jamalpur, Bangladesh, eighteen-year-old Monwara Begum used a knife to cut off the penis of an intruder who entered her hut and went onto her bed.
In February 1996, a woman in southern China, Cheng Meiping, was executed for cutting off her husband's penis and murdering him.
In March 1996, in Sydney, Australia, Tom Thong Tran's penis was sliced at by his wife Tran Tu Tran and it almost came off, with only a "thread" connecting it to his body. Tom was hospitalized, but charges against his wife were dismissed after he asked the judge to do so.
On March 25, 1997, it was reported that on March 19, 1997, Wednesday, in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary islands, Spain, a 78-year-old man who made overtures to a 19-year-old Spanish girl had his penis severed by her. The man was a widower and the already married girl had two children.
On July 1, 1997, in Vancouver, Canada, 42-year-old Vi Hoc Phung was asleep when his 38-year-old wife Kim Phuong Tran used a meat cleaver to completely sever his penis up to his pubic bone. She then flushed the penis down a toilet. Phung could no longer have sex and what remained of his organ was only a stub. The couple was Vietnamese.
On July 14, 1997, Earl Zea had cut off his own penis with a pair of gardening shears and flushed it down the toilet in an attempt to deter a gay man named Ronnie Fountain, from stalking him. Both men appeared on The Jerry Springer Show in an episode titled "I Cut Off My Manhood", in which Fountain claimed they were lovers, but Zea denied it. Earl was later prosecuted for filing a false police report about being assaulted while he was asleep, only to admit it was out of self-mutilation. A follow up episode, explored Earl and Ronnie's lives since then.
On November 30, 1997 it was reported that on November 29, 1997, Friday, in Rantau Panjang, Kelantan, Malaysia, a Chinese boy, eleven years old, had his penis severed during a burglary in his house by a woman from Myanmar after she stabbed and then failed to suffocate him. She used a motorcycle to escape after her burglary bid went awry. The woman was a foreign worker. The Sin Chew Jit, a Chinese Malaysian newspaper, reported the incident. The boy's penis was not reattached although he survived.
On January 13, 1998, in Beijing, China, a Chinese man's penis was severed by his 28-year-old wife with scissors; she claimed it was due to his infidelity and maltreatment of her.
In 1999, A man named JC had cut off his own penis in an attempt at a sex change, claiming he was a woman trapped inside a man's body and refused to elaborate in where he got rid of the penis for reattachment when he got to the hospital. He appeared on the Jerry Springer Show where his disappointed family and friends confronted him for his actions. Later on, a woman wanted her husband to do the same thing, but JC's family and friends called her out for it.
On August 19, 2001, in Battambang, Cambodia, a 23-year-old Cambodian man, Rin Bros, was dragged from a police station by a gang of women who severed his penis and chopped it to pieces. They then killed him by beating and stabbing him. Bros was accused of three rapes and was being questioned by the police before the women stormed the police station and killed him as soon as they heard he was there. The police took no action and just watched the women during the murder, and none of the women were arrested or punished. A Cambodian newspaper described the incident as "Angry women undressed the man and cut his penis off with a knife and chopped it into small pieces like pork."
On March 4, 2001, in Hong Kong, China, Chu Chi-lik, 41 years old, was drugged by his 42-year-old wife Lam Yuk-kam and his penis severed due to his infidelity. The penis was reattached.
Om November 9, 2001, in Hong Kong, China, 27-year-old Poon Shuk-yee used a paper cutter to sever her 35-year-old lover Chan Chi-keung's penis while they were engaged in sexual activity, since Chan wanted to break up. A reattachment operation was performed on Chan and it was successful. Poon was sentenced to four and a half years in prison.
On December, 2001, in Hong Kong after a man's penis was severed by his wife; she was sentenced to four years in prison.
In 2002 in Hong Kong, China, 30-year-old Lai Kwok-fai was asleep when his 46-year-old girlfriend Chan Lai-ching used scissors to cut at his penis. His foreskin was cut off and he was stitched at the hospital.
On May 31, 2002, Haizhu District, China, Liu Ying cut off her husband Zhang's penis with a pair of scissors. She was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
On July 10, 2002, Guangdong, China, Mo Mou cut off her husband Lu's penis with scissors then flushed the penis down the toilet. Lu was sexually disabled permanently.
On July 22, 2002, Hunan Province, China, a 28-year-old woman, Xie Mouju (born on August 27, 1974 in Yuanling County, Hunan) drugged her husband Lu Yinchun, then tied him up in bed, and severed his penis with a kitchen knife. He then bled to death.
On September 22, 2002, Futian, Shenzhen, China, a 30-year-old man named He Xiaohong was asleep when his penis was severed by his wife Jiang Haiyun with a knife. She had drugged his water and fled for over 12 hours before returning the penis, which she had taken. The penis suffered from necrosis and was entirely blackened, so it could not be reattached. She had learned from her cousin, who attempted to cut off her husband's penis with scissors, only for it to be reattached, that it had to be completely separated for a long period of time to prevent reattachment. The operation to reattach it was unsuccessful, so, although he recovered, he was left with only his testicles. He described his life as "living death". The couple was from Shaoyang, Hunan. His injuries were qualified as disabling.
In 2003, China, Wuxi in Jiangsu province a man had his penis cut off by his wife.
On February 12, 2003, China, Liu Yeqing (pseudonym) cut off her 30-year-old boyfriend Chun Xiong's penis with a fruit knife. It was reattched at a hospital.
On April, 2003, in Shihlin, Taipei, Taiwan, a Chinese Filipino man named Tsai was sleeping when his 46-year-old wife Virginia severed his penis. She fled to the Philippines after she flushed his penis in the toilet. The lack of an extradition treaty between Taiwan and the Philippines hampered Taiwan's request for the Philippines to hand over Virginia. Tsai was taken to the hospital by their 17-year-old son, where he was treated by doctors and survived. The chief surgeon Hung Cheng-sheng said that "he is traumatized because only 2.5 centimetres of his penis is left and he won't be able to have sex again".
On May 4, 2003, Huadu District, Guangzhou, China, Zhang cut off her lover Lai's penis with a kitchen knife and placed it into a pot of boiling water, which prevented reattachment. She was concerned about his relations with other women. Lai was left permanently disabled.
On Jun 9, 2003, in Fuzhou, Fujian, China, Chen cut off her boyfriend's penis with a pair of scissors and threw it in the trash. The penis was reattached.
On July 2, 2003, in Shanghai, China, a woman Liu Li bit her 27-year-old boyfriend Wang Lin's penis, completely severing the corpus cavernosum penis, leaving a small bit of skin. She brought him to the hospital with his pants stained with blood.
On July 11, 2003, in Dongfang, Hainan, China, a woman used a fruit knife to cut off the penis of her 40-year-old husband Huang.
On August 14, 2003, Guangzhou, China, a woman cut off the penis of her 52-year-old husband. The penis was reattached.
On August 30, 2003, in Zhangjiagang, China, a woman surnamed Yin from Henan cut off her 30-year-old husband Jiang Chen's penis with scissors. He was also from Henan.
On September 17, 2003, Nanjing, China, a 44-year-old woman cut off her husband's penis with a pair of scissors.
On December 18, 2003, China, a public hearing was held against a woman called Yang who cut off her husband's penis.
On December 25, 2003, in Singapore a 22-year-old Indonesian maid, Suharti Sumito, was sentenced by Judge Kow Keng Siong to prison for 18 months after she used a knife to cut the penis of a 2-year-old Chinese boy, leaving an injury 2 cm in length on September 1 in a condominium in Bukit Timah. The wound was stitched. She had cut chicken with the knife before she cut the boy. The boy suffered permanent disability. The knife was 10 cm.
In 2003, in western India, it was reported by NDTV that Parkeet Manjhi had his penis cut off by four women after he turned down an offer from them for sex. His penis was reattached at a Mumbai hospital. The police reported this was the third such incident in two years.
On June 12, 2006, in Hong Kong, a 5 month old Chinese boy was injured when a maid almost severed his penis, cutting a ring around the penis's circumference, which resulted in severe bleeding. The child was treated at the hospital and the maid was given a sentence of up to two years in jail.
On October 5, 2006, in Nanjing, China, a Chinese man named Li Gengbao was sleeping when his wife Yao Fengfang severed his penis; he woke up after feeling pain and begged her to take him to the hospital and return his penis, which she was holding. She then flung his penis out of a window, at which point a dog which belonged to a neighbor ate the penis. Li drove himself to the hospital where he was treated, but there was no reattachment since the dog ate the penis. After she saw his taxi at his ex-wife's house Yao accused Li of infidelity. Yao was given a lenient three-year sentence. Li's sexual life was permanently destroyed.
On April 10, 2007, in Tanglang New Village, Xili Subdistrict, Nanshan District of Shenzhen, China, a Chinese man from Hunan province named Yi was tied up by his girlfriend Wang, who then used scissors to slice his penis off and flushed it down the toilet. Wang was from Xinyang, Henan province and the couple were both migrant workers. Yi was around 20 years old. He allowed Wang to restrain him by tying him as an apology after he beat her during an argument over a picture of other girls which Wang found on a phone which belonged to him. Wang had dared Yi to beat her while they were yelling. She asked him who the girls on his phone were, and when he told her that they were his girlfriends she cut his penis off. The couple had one daughter, born in 2002. There was no reattachment operation since the penis could not be retrieved from the toilet. Only 1.5 cm of his penis from the base remained, with the rest cut off. Functions such as urination were restored by surgery, but his ability to have sex was permanently destroyed. Wang was given a lenient sentence of five years.
On October 8, 2008, in Zhanjiang, Guangdong province, China, after a 29-year-old Chinese man named Luo engaged in sexual intercourse with his 25-year-old girlfriend Huang, his penis was severed with a fruit knife by Huang because he was cheating on her with multiple girlfriends. She threw the penis into a sugarcane field where the police retrieved it while he was treated at the hospital.
On July 8, 2009, in Leqing, Zhejiang, China, a Chinese sailor named Nan was asleep when his wife used a kitchen knife to sever his penis. She cleaned the knife and left money for their daughter before turning herself in. She had quarreled with him and accused him of infidelity, and was given 13 years in jail. The penis was flushed down a toilet and not reattached.
On April 11, 2011, in Dubai, UAE, an Emirati man, 77 years old, had his penis cut off by his 26-year-old Bangladeshi maid, J.N. She used a razor and claimed he had raped her. Both of them were charged with crimes.
On July 12, 2011, in Dongguan, Guangdong, China, a Chinese man, Liang Quan, 24 years old, was asleep when his 31-year-old girlfriend Yin used a knife to sever most of his penis, because Liang wanted to break up with her since his family didn't approve of her. He lost a massive amount of blood, and most of the penis was severed with a small amount of it still connected. It was reattached but his ability to have sex was severely impaired.
On July 13, 2011 in Garden Grove, CA 48-year-old real estate agent Catherine Kieu Becker cut off the penis of her estranged husband and destroyed it in the kitchen garbage disposal.
On December 20, 2012, in Hong Kong, it was reported that a Chinese man was drugged with rat poison by his wife, who severed his penis and flushed it down the toilet. The woman also killed their two sons by poison and suffocation before attempting suicide, because of her husband's adultery.
On December 26, 2012, in Chai Wan, Hong Kong, a 32-year-old Chinese man surnamed Zhou from Hubei was attacked by his girlfriend, who used scissors to nearly slice his penis off and beat him to death with a hammer while he was asleep. Their daughter witnessed the attack and the woman was arrested.
On May 17, 2013, in Cornwall, United Kingdom, a 43-year-old man believed to be suffering from mental instability, removed his own penis using a kitchen knife whilst standing in the middle of a street in his hometown of Penryn. The man collapsed, bleeding heavily, and was admitted to hospital with "non life-threatening" injuries. One of the witnesses to the incident, later found the man's penis in his garden.
On July 16, 2013, in Baysour, Lebanon, a family severed the penis of a sunni Muslim man who eloped with their daughter. The man was tricked to come for a reconciliation meeting, when he was kidnaped, beaten, and had his penis severed and his testicles crushed.
Aphallia, a condition where the phallus (penis or clitoris) is absent
Apophallation, Amputation of the penis in some species of air-breathing land slugs
^Loblaw, DA, Mendelson DS, Talcott JA et al. (2004-07-15). "American Society of Clinical Oncology recommendations for the initial hormonal management of androgen-sensitive metastatic, recurrent, or progressive prostate cancer". Journal of Clinical Oncology22 (14): 2927–41. doi:10.1200/JCO.2004.04.579. PMID15184404.
^Herring, Richard (2004). Talking Cock (reprint ed.). Da Capo Press. p. 197. ISBN1560256087. Retrieved May 15, 2012. "She should have taken a leaf out of the book of the wife of Lin Yuk- Sang, who when she found out her husband had been cheating on her, cut off his penis with a pair of scissors and (this is the genius part) flushed it down the toilet."
^Fortean times, Issues 71-77. John Brown Pub. 1993. p. 33. "In 1989 a jealous wife in Thailand separated her husband from his schlong, fed it through a meat grinder and made him eat it in soup."