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Landmark decision from German high court outlaws male circumcision

June 26, 2012

circumcisionA German court just ruled that infant male circumcision is ILLEGAL and can subject the perpetrator to prosecution for ASSAULT (just like for infant female circumcision)! This is a HUGE victory for the anti-circumcision movement and children’s rights.

Male circumcision removes the foreskin of the penis. The foreskin contains most of the high sensory nerve endings in the penis and operates as a natural protective buffer and a lubricant.

The national medical associations in Finland, Sweden, Holland, South Africa, and elsewhere have called for a ban on infant male circumcision, which is gynecologically equivalent to removing an infant girl’s clitoral hood and which is illegal in many countries. A recent report by the Dutch Medical Association explains that the male foreskin is an important erotogenic structure for which no medical benefit justifies its routine removal, that it is comparable to certain forms of female circumcision and that it violates children’s rights to bodily integrity.

German high court ruled against male circumcision for religious purposes. Those who cut boys for religious reasons can now be prosecuted for assault, including doctors. Now, neither parents nor the right to freedom of religion guaranteed in the Basic Law can justify this procedure. This is the first time a German court has confirmed punishment for a religious practice.

Every year in Germany, several thousand boys are circumcised at the request of parents. In the U.S., even the majority of boys – largely independent of the religion – are circumcised right after birth. Worldwide, about one-quarter of all men are circumcised. However, massive worldwide resistance is mounting to end the horrific practice of circumcising young boys.

The court was not deterred by the fear of being criticized as anti-Semitic and anti-religious. This decision will shape the future of the debate and hopefully lead a shift in religious consciousness in respecting the fundamental rights of children, all children, not just girls.

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Muslim and Jewish organizations surely see the decision as interference with the right to freedom of religion. Both religions are integrated into German culture and have considerable influence. Regardless, at least in Germany, the question of criminalization of religiously motivated circumcision will be regulated by the Federal Constitutional Court.

In this case, a Muslim doctor circumcised a four-year-old boy at the request of the parents. Two days later the boy was still bleeding. The mother took to the emergency room. The prosecutor became aware and indicted the circumciser. After the district court found the procedure to be legal, she appealed. Subsequently, the district court found “serious and irreversible impairment of physical integrity” and ruled in favor of the mother and botched circumcision. Unfortunately, botched circumcisions happen all too often, destroying a young boy for life.

Here is a discussion about the ruling in German.

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2 Responses to Landmark decision from German high court outlaws male circumcision

  1. Lloyd on June 27, 2012 at 10:52 PM

    This is great news, but we still need the same thing to happen in many other places. I was lucky enough that my parents respected by right to choose what I wanted to do with my own body and didn't decide for me. Sadly, in many places this disgusting practice is still carried out and infants suffer damage that can never be repaired. To me circumsision is just as bad as crimes like pedophillia. We wouldn't allow strangers to harm our children sexually, but every day we let parents do so in a way that can cause drastic lasting damage that isn't much different. Hopefully America isn't far behind in this descision and we can start putting a stop genital mutilation before it harms any more innocents.

  2. Marc on June 26, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    I thought it would take another 100 years for something like this to happen. Wow, they're actually protecting boys fro mutilation of their genitals. Amazing.

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