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.

3rd National Conference for Men and Boys

Two stimulating days in Brighton. Lots of new friends and new information to digest.


One of the highlights for MDC was meeting the people from CALM that is the Campaign Against Living Miserably. CALM offers a helpline so if you are in crisis you have somewhere to turn. In the near future there will be a campaign to promote the vaccination of boys against the Human Papilloma Virus. HPV is a possible reason to advocate the circumcision of boys but in line with medical ethics the first method of treatment or prevention should be the least invasive.

HPV – human papillomavirus

Good news from Australia. A group of diseases often cited by proponents of circumcision as justification for that procedure can be prevented by the vaccine that protects from human papillomavirus. It is therefore logical, and of course, less invasive, for both sexes to be vaccinated against HPV to prevent such diseases.

BMJ-230wA recent edition of The British Medical Journal contains a report that Australia is to routinely vaccinate boys and girls with benefits for both sexes.

“The move sees Australia become the first country in the world to publicly fund HPV vaccination for boys in a bid to protect against genital warts and anal, penile and throat cancers.
Starting this month, boys and girls alike in Australia will receive three doses of the quadrivalent vaccine Gardasil at ages 12-13, as part of a national, federally funded school based programme.  A catch-up scheme will also run for 14-15 year old boys until the end of the school year in 2014.”

We can only hope that the British Government will allow the National Health Service to follow this enlightened policy instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on unnecessary circumcisions.

28 Too Many

MDC is proud to support all organisations that are working to promote the rights of children and 28 Too Many works to protect girls in 28 countries from female circumcision.

Whatever the differences or similarities between male and female circumcision the same right to genital autonomy is breached by the genital modification of any child without medical necessity or the person’s consent, see the recent Helsinki Declaration of the Right to Genital Autonomy.

Dear Chancellor Merkel…

On the 21st of July Men Do Complain took the following letter to the German Embassy in Belgrave Square, London.

Dear Chancellor Merkel,

We represent the voices that you may not have heard concerning the ruling of the Cologne Court which decided that religious male circumcision “violated the child’s rights” and caused “bodily harm”.

We ask that you support the Cologne ruling [11] and resist calls for it to be overturned or sidestepped. We applaud the courage of the court in making this judgment and are delighted to see that other countries such as Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and possibly Ireland, are looking to follow Germany’s example.

The U.K. High Court when asked to give permission for a child to be circumcised for religious reasons decided that the child’s right to choose his or her own religion, when competent to do so, outweighs the parents’ rights to manifest their religion.

The point was clarified by Mr. Justice Munby when considering the point under the European Convention of Human Rights in his judgment in the case of “S”:

“….however much respect one pays to religion or to any particular religion, and whatever the religion and the nature of the religious beliefs in issue in the particular case, a parental view based on religious belief, however profound, can never be determinative when it comes to considering what is to be done in relation to a child. After all, although Article 9 of the Convention guarantees “the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion”, the right to “manifest” one’s religion, whether in worship, teaching, practice or observance, is subject to such limitations, prescribed by law, as are “necessary in a democratic society … for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.” The mother’s rights under Article 9, in other words, are qualified by S’s rights…”
( [2005] EWHC 1490 (Fam) 11th July 2005 )

That male circumcision causes harm is beyond doubt. Unrebutted peer reviewed studies have shown that the male foreskin is an essential component of a complete sex life for both men and women.

Please listen to our voice and keep in mind this quote:

“Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow that they are free in identical circumstances to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make choices for themselves.”
(Rutledge J in the United States Supreme Court in Prince v Massachusetts (1944) 321 US 158 at p 170: )

The Cologne Court has given confidence to the children harmed by the practice of forced male circumcision who are now men, to raise their voices without fear of ridicule about a subject which has been ignored for far too long. Please do not be afraid to offer protection to children who cannot resist the irreversible actions of adults.
Yours etc.


Thank you
Men Do Complain is deeply grateful to all those who came to show their support for the Cologne ruling and to promote the right of all children to grow up free of any genital modification without an absolute medical imperative.