Historic event in Denmark; report by Morten Frisch


Today, at a meeting in Oslo, Norway, Nordic ombudsmen for children along with Nordic children’s health professionals’ organisations (a.o. pediatricians and pediatric surgeons) agreed on a resolution urging their national governments to work for a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys.

I was extremely pleased to be invited to attend this meeting and give a talk on the aspects of pain and complications in relation to ritual circumcision and to take part in the subsequent discussions leading to the final text.

DSC_1434copy-crop320wAnne Lindboe (left at Keele University 16th Sept 2013) Norwegian ombudsman for children should be warmly applauded for this great initiative! It is my strong sense that the clear cut message from today’s meeting will be a hard one to escape for the Nordic governments in their future dealing with the issue of non-therapeutic circumcision.
The resolution in Norwegian can be seen here. My (UNOFFICIAL) translation of the resolution into English goes like this (written hastily in the flight back to Copenhagen tonight)
Circumcision without a medical indication on a person unable to provide informed consent conflicts with basic principles of medical ethics, particularly because the operation is irreversible, painful and may cause serious complications. There are no health-related reasons to circumcise young boys in the Nordic countries. Arguments that may argue in favour of circumcision in adult men are of little relevance to children in the Nordic area. Boys can make up their own minds about the operation when they get old enough to provide informed consent.

As ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health we consider circumcision of underage boys without a medical indication to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 12, about children’s right to express their views about their own matters, and article 24, pt. 3, which says that children must be protected against traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health. In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council has urged all states to end operations that compromise the integrity and dignity of children and are prejudicial to the health of both girls and boys. We consider it central that parental rights in this matter do not have precedence over children’s right to bodily integrity. What is in children’s best interest must always come first, even if this may limit grown up persons’ right to carry out their religious or traditional rituals.

The Nordic ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health therefore want to work towards a situation, where a circumcision can only be performed, if a boy, who has reached the age and level of maturity required to understand necessary medical information, consents to the operation. We wish a respectful dialogue among all parties involved about how to best ensure boys’ self determination with respect to circumcision. We also urge our governments to inform about children’s rights and health-related risks and consequences of the operation. We ask the Nordic governments to take the necessary steps towards ensuring that boys get the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be circumcised.

Oslo, 30th of September 2013

Signed by
Anne Lindboe, Norwegian ombudsman for children
Fredrik Malmberg, Swedish ombudsman for children
Maria Kaisa Aula, Finnish ombudsman for children
Per Larsen, Chairman of the Danish Children’s Council
Margrét Maria Sigurdardóttir, Icelandic ombudsman for children
Anja Chemnitz Larsen, Greenlandic Children’s spokesperson

as well as by representatives of Nordic associations of pediatricians and pediatric surgeons.

Men Do Complain is deeply Grateful to Morten Frisch for reporting this news and to all those who have taken the side of children by seeking to end the practice of non therapeutic circumcision.

11 thoughts on “Historic event in Denmark; report by Morten Frisch”

  1. This is indeed good news and a great step forward, but let’s not underestimate the reaction from the Jewish lobby who wish to keep on cutting the genitals of baby boys. Every organisation working to stop this outrageous practice needs our support

    1. FYI, there is a group in Canada called “Jews Against Circumcision” which exemplify the fact that not all Jews agree with/allow their sons to be circumcised.

  2. True, James, to an extent. The wisest of the religious will see they have no modern ethical alternative than to leave the ritual for adulthood. The cruelty of cutting is so painfully obvious when you use common sense and are educated about it. No religious person wants society to think their religion is the ‘religion of cruelty to children’- especially Jews. The ultra-religious don’t care, but they will run afoul of human rights laws when they applied and will no doubt ‘readjust’ their doctrines to safe face. Look at how churches backpeddled on slavery, for example.
    Yes, this is a beautiful effort from Scandinavian professionals to acknowledge how important children’s right are. The conversation will expand, pressure will be put to where it is needed in governments, and the day will indeed come when Children will feel safer from genital assault than they do today. Skol!

  3. For far too long the practice of forced circumcision of infant and minor males has avoided the spotlight that has been brightly shone on FGM. It has however always clearly been a human rights abuse in the same way that FGM is, but the deeply embedded cultural and religious connotation has regrettably blinded many to the harsh reality. I am greatly heartened that such enlightened individuals as Dr Holm Putzke who brought the trial in Cologne last year, and Anne Lindboe and the other Nordic ombudsmen named above, and now Marlene Rupprecht of the Council of Europe are boldly grasping the nettle and hastening the demise of this gross injustice.

  4. We hope that countries of Northern Europe will overcome the ethnic prejudice. Let them give an example to the rest of the world of objective medicine and of a democracy free from religious sacrifice of body parts in which religion, sexual suppression and their psychological consequences are not above the law.
    Israel’s reaction to this issue is aggressive and anti-European. It seems to give away these consequences. (Link to external site) (http://goo.gl/GnCZTN)

  5. No discussion, no decision, no circumcision. Weg mit den Beschneidungsmessern. Hat der sich über die Oslo Resolution freuende Dr. Antony Lempert (Children’s basic rights to bodily integrity and to form their own beliefs, Quelle Barry Duke auf freethinker am 02.10.2013) denn gar keine Lehre aus dem Mau Mau Aufstand gezogen? Wenn wir ein antikolonial fühlendes Mädchen rufen lassen: “Ngaitana – I will circumcize myself”, dann ist das hundertprozentige genitale Selbstbestimmung nach dem Grundatz: Let girls decide for themselves whether or not they want to be circumcised, nur das Geschlechtsorgan ist anschließend für immer kaputt. Der voreilig als Intaktivist gehandelte Sprecher des UK Secular Medical Forum (SMF) Dr. Lempert toleriert das freiwillige Beschneiden für völlig gesunde Minderjährige (There can be no justification for healthy children to be forcibly cut, Quelle national secular society am 01.10.2013), doch in jener zauberhaften Stunde, in der im heiligen Wald der erste Junge aufschreit “Ndiyindoda! – I am a man!”, gleich ist der sich auf die Einweihung freuende kleine Nelson Mandela an der Reihe, haben wir genau den gesundheitsgefährdend geringen Anspruch der Anne Lindboe erfüllt: “Vi hos Barneombudet mener derfor det er best for barnet at barna selv skal få bestemme om de vil bli omskåret – Wir als Kinderrechtsbeauftragte glauben, dass es am Besten für ein Kind ist, wenn sich das Kind selbst entscheiden kann ob es beschnitten werden möchte” (Quelle barneombudet.no). LET BOYS DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES WHETHER OR NOT THEY WANT TO BE CIRCUMCISED tönt es am 30.09.2013 aus Norwegens Hauptstadt – Antrag abgelehnt sehr geehrte Frau Anne Lindboe und sehr geehrter Herr Fredrik Malmberg, Skandinavien braucht kein Ngaitana für die Mädchen und für die Jungen kein Ndiyindoda. Dass Kinderärztin Lindboe auch das zwölfjährige oder zehnjährige männliche Kind entscheiden lassen will, lässt sie unwidersprochen in der israelischen Presse publizieren: non-medical circumcision of pre-teen boys should be outlawed (JTA 25.11.2013). Norwegen braucht einen neuen Ombudsman für Kinderrechte, Anne Lindboe ist in ihrem Amt nicht länger tragbar.

  6. Not to mention the long term consequences regarding impaired sexual function which should be considered as a result of this genital amputation.

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