GenitalMutilation

The Icelandic Parliament proposed a bill that makes it illegal for any parent to would penalize a parent circumcise their baby or infant son for non-medical reasons. To do so risks a conviction and sentence of up to six years in prison if the procedure is undertaken for religious purposes or non-medical reasons. I can only say “Hoorah to Iceland!” How can it not be seen as an abuse to deliberately mutilate a child for no good reason whether they be a girl or a boy? There are very doubtful medical benefits of carrying out such an atrocity against a defenceless child. The usual claims that cutting of the foreskin helps prevent various sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and lowers the risk of urinary infection is little more than a fiction. In fact in Africa where there has been a UN backed campaign to encourage the procedure has led people to mistakenly believe that they are immune to HIV and STis. What is more of  realistic problem is that, with any form of surgery, there is always a risk of it going wrong so why do it if it is unnecessary? There is a lot of bleeding and swelling and, in the case of babies whose immune system has not fully developed, an increased risk of infection.

 

The proposed ban would mean, in effect, that Jews and Muslims would be forced to break an alleged central command of their religious dogmas. Lets face it though, most religions should and must accept the need for adjustments. If it was the belief that the little finger of the left hand were to be severed would anyone not find that repulsive?

MP Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir of Iceland’s Progressive Party who introduced the bill earlier this year said : We are talking about children’s rights, not about freedom of belief. Everyone has the right to believe in what they want, but the rights of children come above the right to believe.”

Protests about the ban boil down to: The rights of the child versus freedom of religion. 

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In 2013, The Council of Europe passed a resolution condemning the practice as a “violation of the physical integrity of children,” and in 2012, a German judge ruled that circumcision constituted harm against a child. In that case, it boy was a four year old boy who had suffered complications after the operation. The German government later clarified declared that it remained legal if performed by a trained professional. The Iceland situation has made the small country a test case for a ban since it only has a Jewish population of 250 and a Muslim one of 15,000 amongst a total population of 350,000. In spite of half the population claiming to be religious, Iceland is apparently in the top ten of the world’s most atheist populations. Perhaps this sets for another angle of the divide between secularism and human rights?  If the law is passed, there is a very good chance that the country’s Jews and Muslims would either disobey it or have the procedure performed abroad.

It is estimated that about a third of all men are circumcised. This is not far short of 100% for Muslims. It would be impossible for Canada, the United States, and any European nation to prevent their Jewish and Muslim populations, often numbering millions, to stop circumcising their sons. In the UK, it has been illegal to carry out FGM for many years but, to my knowledge, there have been no prosecutions to date while the practice continues to mutilate hundreds of girls.

Iceland Most Advanced State in Europe, Proposes Banning Male Genital Mutilation by Styxhexenhammer666

The European Jewish Congress spoke for most Jewish organizations when it said the ban would “guarantee that no Jewish community will be established” in the country, and that “Iceland would be the only country to ban one of the most central, if not the most central rite in the Jewish tradition in modern times,” constituting an attack on Judaism “in a way that concerns Jews all over the world.” Numerous Muslim leaders have echoed those fears from an Islamic standpoint. Others go further, and have suggested that this is part of some greater campaign of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. This is an emotive and exaggerated claim since there are Jewish and Muslim people who support the end of FGM and MGM.

Not all Muslims and Jews favour circumcision. This is the Facebook address for Muslims opposed to MGM:  https://www.facebook.com/muslimsagainstcirc/?hc_ref=ARQvaycFLxobI_lbxg8c65SnqtpTjJnUVd1wsm0STnKSrZm_6Ua5Xwd361VyOnv8YuQ&fref=nf

 

For a Jewish opposition contact the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center (an educational organization in Boston, USA). This is their statement on the practice: “”We want Jews to know that in this country and abroad, some Jews do not circumcise their sons. Circumcision is a choice, and now that we know the serious harm caused by circumcision, there are strong reasons to forgo it.”   Ronald Goldman, Ph.D., Executive Director. Dr. Goldman is the author of Questioning Circumcision: A Jewish Perspective, endorsed by five rabbis. http://www.jewishcircumcision.org/62011NewsRelease.htm

Dr. Goldman also suggests that Jews think about the ethics of causing significant pain and cutting off a natural, healthy body part that has important functions. “There are psychological effects of circumcision, too. Some Jewish men are very dissatisfied, angry, or distressed about being circumcised,” said Dr. Goldman. The Center’s statement also seeks to assure Jews that as the subject of circumcision gets more critical attention from Jews and others, the Jewish Circumcision Resource Center will reject any statement or action from circumcision opponents that may be disrespectful or insensitive to Jews and others. The Center’s primary intended audience is those Jews who generally evaluate an idea not solely based on its conformance with the Torah, but also in light of its agreement with reason and experience. For those Jews who decide against circumcision, there are over a dozen rabbis who will lead an alternative welcoming ceremony for baby boys called a brit shalom. Contact Details:

For Jewish people or those who are interested in a Jewish perspective contact the centre to find out more at:

Jewish Circumcision Resource Center
P.O. Box 232
Boston, MA 02133
(617) 523-0088

Ronald Goldman, Ph.D.
Executive Director  jcrc@jewishcircumcision.org

 

The UK Campaign

Prominent UK campaigners such as Mike Buchanan of the party Justice For Men and Boys included this in their 2015 election manifesto:

“The law in the UK forbids all forms of female genital mutilation (FGM) including those which have less impact on females than male genital mutilation (MGM) has on males. FGM is justifiably regarded as a

human rights issue and the law makes no accommodation for religious or cultural considerations. MGM is a human rights issue too, but boys are not accorded the same rights to protection as girls.

It is right to be concerned about girl’s rights not to have their genitals mutilated, and it is right to be concerned about boys’ rights not to have their genitals mutilated. If genital mutilation is illegal for girls, why shouldn’t it be illegal for boys? Everyone in a modern society should be accorded the same rights irrespective of gender. With adults, it’s a different matter. It’s right that adults should be able to make decisions about their own bodies. Adults are in a position to give informed consent to surgical procedures, but babies and children aren’t in such a position.

In the vast majority of cases, genital mutilation is performed solely for cultural or religious reasons. This applies to boys as well as girls. Both MGM and FGM frequently lead to complications, however sometimes resulting in death, from bleeding. Furthermore, it’s now widely accepted in medical circles that MGM doesn’t have the health benefits (for males or their partners) which were at one time widely claimed, and the practice is increasingly being opposed by people in religious traditions which have long required or recommended it.

MGM can lead to numerous physical problems. MGM results in a considerable reduction in the sensitivity of the penis, reducing circumcised men’s pleasure during sex just as some forms of FGM reduce sexual pleasure in women. MGM can also lead to mental health problems, when men become resentful and angry at the assaults carried out on them when they were babies or children. Quite apart from potential adverse physical and mental health consequences, a number of authorities are strongly opposed to MGM on ethical grounds.

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Brian D Earp, Research Fellow at the University of Oxford, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, recently published, ‘Female genital mutilation (FGM) and male circumcision: Should there be a separate ethical discourse?’ Contact: https://j4mb.org.uk/

For me, if God has made us with the aim of us being perfect, then why is this piece of skin on a small child so offensive that it has to be hacked off? I am a believer in God, but I do not believe that that attacking a child with a knife is God’s will.

Doctors continue to circumcise little babies for a few main reasons:

  • They are business people who have bills to pay and circumcision is a quick, easy buck.
  • They have not yet been educated in the important functions of the foreskin.
  • They haven’t yet realized their legal liability. The American Medical Association (AMA) has warned its members to “take the high road of ethics,” but it has not yet been specific enough to warn them of the dangers of this simple, profitable, profoundly abusive procedure.
  • They have ignored the actual best interests of their patients and have put aside the pledge of their Hippocratic oath. “At first do no harm.” 

For More on the Iceland Issue