In two different statements, Danish doctors express deep concern over ritual circumcision of boys. The Danish Society of Family Physicians, whose 3,000 members include two thirds of all general practitioners in Denmark, announced in December 2013 that circumcision of underage boys with no proper medical indication is nothing short of mutilation.
In a another statement in January 2014, the overarching Danish Medical Association recommended that non-therapeutic male circumcision should wait until the boy or young man is old enough to provide informed consent.
An editorial in Jyllands-Posten, the second largest national newspaper in Denmark, urged the Danish government yesterday to ban ritual circumcision of underage boys, and a result poll among readers of BT, another large national newspaper, showed that 87 percent of well over 26,000 votes were in favour of such a ban.
Religion Fails Again
To most Europeans circumcision is an ethically problematic ritual that is intrinsically harmful to children: every child has the right to protection of his or her bodily integrity and the right to explore and enjoy his or her undiminished sexual capacity later in life.
Jewish scholars like Philo of Alexandria and Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) knew well that reduced penile sensitivity was not an unfortunate side effect of the brit milah; rather it was part of the point: to diminish the animalistic sexuality of men.
Circumcision ablates the most sensitive part of a boy’s penis and thereby diminishes his sexual sensitivity for the rest of his life. In October 2013, the Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists stated that the bodily injury associated with circumcision is a violation of the boy’s sexual autonomy.
Damage Without Consent
Today’s and tomorrow’s children should be protected against irreversible and medically unnecessary alterations of their bodies. When they reach the age of maturity (typically 18 years), they can freely choose to undergo any ritual surgery they might want.
Hopefully, 2014 will be the turning year when politicians across Europe will agree with their doctors, sexologists, and human rights advocates that religious arguments must never trump the protection of children’s basic human rights. To cut off functional, healthy parts of other people’s bodies without their explicit and well-informed consent can never be anybody’s right – religious or otherwise.
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