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Top Norwegian doctor wants circumcision phased out

September 1, 2011

Male circumcision could become a thing of the past in Norway. Professor Trond Markestad, head of the Norwegian Medical Association’s (NMA/Den Norske Legeforeningen) ethics committee, would like to see it replaced.


“It’s against important medical ethics and is unnecessary. There’s no medical reason for having it done, it’s painful for some days afterwards, and there’s a possibility of complications,” he tells The Foreigner.

Male circumcision is a Jewish and Muslim religious tradition that goes back thousands of years. He takes issue with the some of the physical beliefs surrounding it.

“The old tradition doesn’t use an anaesthetic. It’s argued the infant’s nerve system hasn’t developed by the time it’s performed on the eighth day, so it couldn’t feel pain. But this has been shown to be wrong. Infants do feel pain, they just can’t express it.”

Markestad, a specialist in children’s diseases, doesn’t believe banning the procedure is the answer, however. He claims this will lead to the practise disappearing underground, leading to boys suffering even more.

“There are many ways of performing a circumcision, but it should be carried out by doctors with the necessary medical skill and using adequate anaesthesia by injecting a local one at the root of the penis. Anaesthetic cream is inadequate.”


“Circumcision’s a cultural, religious, and political issue that returns periodically here. Culturally, Norwegians are still not used to people looking and being different to them. There’s also a religious and political polarisation between Muslims and an otherwise homogenous Norwegian society.

Read the rest of the article at

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