Penis hacking all the rage

2004-07-07 11:01

Bangkok - They have been boiled, fed to ducks, even attached to hot air balloons and cast into the night sky - when it comes to permanently depriving a cheating lover of a recently severed penis, the imagination of the wronged Thai woman knows few bounds.

Thailand has become the world centre of penis reattachment surgery, but then it has been forced to be. While not unique to the kingdom, penis severing has been honed here to its most devastating effect through a mixture of infidelity, assertive womanhood and a national cuisine that lends itself to a kitchen full of sharp knives.

The men are now fearful of a rash of Thailand's most notorious crime of passion, according to the surgeon who has stitched back many a male member for grateful patients.

Sitting in his office at Bangkok's Paolo Memorial Hospital, surgeon Surasak Muangsombot recalled how he re-attached his first phallus in 1978 and soon discovered that penis hacking was a peculiarly Thai form of sexual violence.

Since then Sweden has had three cases, the US two - including the notorious case of John Wayne Bobbitt who returned from surgery to star in porn films - and one in Australia.

In the same period, Muangsombot's team alone has operated on 33 cases and many more have been reported.

Tradition of polygamy

Doctors and psychologists blame the attacks on a mix of Thailand's tradition of polygamy, which was banned about 100 years ago but still persists, and the fact that the phallus is revered as a symbol of power and fertility.

The phenomenon has become so widespread that doctors have had to keep up with increasingly inventive and angry wives and lovers who want to prevent the offending item from being reattached.

The latest case was reported on Tuesday when a 29-year-old farmer in northeastern Thailand was admitted to hospital with a severed penis, claiming that his wife kicked him.

The couple had fought, she then denied his requests for sex and kicked him when he complained, according to him. Such was the length of her toe nails, she severed his penis.

Thai psychologist and media commentator Doctor Wallop Piyamanotham said the practice stemmed primarily from the outlawed, but flourishing, Thai habit of keeping secret wives.

"Before a man could have many wives but later we followed the western law of one man one wife, but men still act the same and have many wives so the only revenge open to the wife is to cut off his penis," Piyamanotham said.

Doctor Muangsombot said despite the damage done to patients, the recovery rate is surprisingly high.

He said it was now possible to make replacement penises from arteries and skin taken from other parts of the body that could be inflated with pumps, but warned men who insist on being unfaithful to follow a few golden rules.

"If you have a mistress they (wives) will get mad and cut it any time, so make her very happy, always carry a thermos to put it in and keep the name of a good doctor close by," he said.