Denmark, Sweden Ban Non-Medical Circumcision of Boys

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 29, 2014 10:16 AM EST

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The debate whether to remove the foreskin of infant boys' penises had partly been settled in Sweden and Denmark, following the strong recommendation of a ban on non-medical circumcision of male newborns.

However, circumcision would still be allowed if the boy reaches the age of 12 and he consents to the procedure considered a rite of manhood in many cultures. The recommendation is contained in a resolution approved by majority members of the Sweden Medical Association which covers about 85 per cent of doctors in Sweden.

Similarly, the Danish College of General Practitioners, which has 3,000 members, issued a statement that ritual circumcision of male children is equal to abuse and mutilation. About 87 per cent of Danish GPs favored the ban on non-medical circumcision.

Jews and Muslims usually perform ritual circumcision on male infants. Among Jews, the procedure is done eight days after the boy's birth, while among Muslims, the rite takes place before the child reaches 10.

Even prior to the recommendation of the two medical groups, the Child Rights International Network in a joint statement with the Nordic Ombudsmen for children and pediatric experts in September 2013 opined that circumcision without medical indication is in conflict with Article 12 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The article gives the child the right to express his or her views in all matters concerning him or her.

The statement also cited Article 24, point 3, which mandates protection of children against traditional practices that could be bad for their health.

Representatives from Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Ireland and Greenland inked the statement.

But there are those who view the recommendations as a mirror of anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant outlook in Nordic nations.

Quoting Erik Ullenhag, the Swedish minister for integration, who said that current regulations would not be altered despite the recommendation, pointed out, "I have never met any adult man who experienced circumcision as an assault ... The procedure is not very intensive and parents have the right to raise their children according to their faith and tradition."

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