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fatpie42 in atheism

Proposed Circumcision Ban In Norway - Male Circumcision This Time...

Religious leaders furious over Norway’s proposed circumcision ban

by Barry Duke

JENNY Klinge,  Norway’s Centre Party justice policy spokeswoman, has angered religious leaders by condemning the ritual circumcision of infant boys. Calling it “outdated” and “dangerous”, she called for its ban. She said:

In my view, this is a custom that we cannot accept in a modern, civilized society. Our aim is to prioritise the rights of small children. Fortunately, it has become forbidden to circumcise girls, now it’s time for boys to get the same legal protection.

Jenny Klinge says the ritual circumcision of infant boys is barbarous

She stressed that boys who have been ritually circumcised can never remove what she called “a religious marker” if they choose to convert to another religion or have no religious beliefs.

I’m not buying the argument that banning circumcision is a violation of religious freedom, because such freedom must involve being able to choose for themselves.

But she stressed that she was not opposed to circumcision in cases where it was deemed a medical necessity.

However, circumcision based on ritual and religion is actually about holding down a newborn baby boy and cutting off part of a healthy sexual organ, with all the consequences that this might have for an individual’s future health and sex life.

With this in mind, performing a circumcision on religious grounds ought to be made a criminal offence, she added.

Jan Helge Solbakk, a professor of medical ethics at Oslo University, agreed with Klinge’s criticism of the practice.

It represents an irreversible operation on a boy who is not in a position to protect himself, and as such is in breach of basic human rights.

Ervin Kohn, Chairman and Trustee of the Jewish community disagrees, saying a ban would serve as a very strong signal that the Jews are an unwanted minority in the country. He claims that 99 percent of all Jews in the world circumcise their male children.

It is the visible covenant between Abraham and God. It goes directly on religious freedom and that Norway is a tolerant society.

Kohn also points out that research has documented the health benefits of circumcision.

Glen Poole, Strategic Director of The Men’s Network in Brighton & Hove, reports on his Ending Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog that the proposed ban had also been condemned by Espen Ottosen, Information Director of Misjonssambandet (Federation of Christian Missionaries), and a Muslim Norwegian physician, Mohammad Usman Rana, who voiced his opposition in a newspaper article entitled Circumcision: Those who will forbid circumcision of young boys in reality invite a totalitarian guardian-state.

Poole points out that pro-circumcisionists claim:

To circumcise boys is a minor operation. Internationally there is a plethora of medical studies which report few complications. We know that the procedure actually provides health benefits.  Urinary tract infections for example are far less common among circumcised boys.  The risk of HIV contamination is also reduced.

Poole counters:

We say all the reported health benefits have either been disproven, contradicted or considered too insignificant to justify the agreed risks and complications which include bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. There isn’t a single medical association in the world that supports the procedure. 

The British Medical Association, for example, stated in 2003 that ‘the medical benefits previously claimed have not been convincingly proven’ and ‘that the evidence concerning health benefits from non-therapeutic circumcision is insufficient for this alone to be a justification for doing it.

(Source: The Freethinker)

Nothing much to add to this except that I find it amusing to see a religious objection that protecting young children from abuse is "totalitarian". 'My goodness, laws against the mutilation of young boy's genitals? Parts of young children cut off in the privacy of my own home should be of no consequence to the government. It's the nanny state I say!'

Pretty much the only argument against this law is "what about freedom of religion?" and, to be frank, it's not looking like a strong case. You could make a similar argument for human sacrifice, though that has the added benefit that at least the person affected would be doing it of their own free will.


Blocking a child from getting a permanent body modification (tattoo) does not prevent them from deciding to still get it later in life, when they can be expected to form an informed decision. Contrarily, performing a permanent body modification (circumcision) on a child does prevent them from deciding not to get it later in life. In the first case, the choice is still given to the person later in life. In the second, the choice is taken away at a young age.

The parent has a duty over the body of their child, to care for them until they can care for themselves. A duty. Not a right.
Religions do, in fact, adapt. However much they insist that their laws and rituals are ancient and immutable, they do change and adapt over time. And they will again.
I believe Jews currently expect circumcision to happen within the first year of life. It's almost like a naming ceremony. The Bar Mitzvah is supposed to mark when a child can be trusted to make their own independent decisions, but circumcision is the first ever rite of passage for a Jewish child marking their introduction into the culture (though simply being born to a Jewish mother welcomes them into the faith).

Still, what changes in the future is probably more important than what has happened in the past.
But then it makes you wonder if parents ought to have a right to get their children's ears pierced

Do you really have to wonder that long? Why in the hell should parents be allowed to have their toddler's ears pierced? It surprises me that anyone CAN do that, since I'd have thought piercings and tattoos would both have an age requirement on them.

I think children can consent at 12 or even 10, but that's not normally when circumcision is normally performed. The issue her is circumcision performed upon young children too young to consent.
But then it makes you wonder if parents ought to have a right to get their children's ears pierced

Maybe, maybe not, but we're not arguing about pierced ears here. Pierced ears close up after time, leaving only a very small scar, if any. And no-one is pressured by their religion to have their child's ears pierced. All in all, this has nothing to do with the discussion about circumcision.
A very small scar, or none at all, from the countless times I've had to re-pop my earring holes... Things like to heal up at random. But anyway, I agree that this is besides the point. Just mentioning, pierced ears might do nothing at all.
As someone with several tattoos and several piercings, I would rather it be illegal for anyone under a certain age to get them, with or without parents' approval. Especially tattoos.

That's more a concern about nasty adult beauty standards crashing into female childhood any more than they do already, though. If I could ban dieting for girls under 16 except under doctors' advice then I'd seriously think about it.
I think the idea is banning habits which might lead to long term eating disorders. Unfortunately there are probably logistical problems with simply "banning dieting" not least with how you enforce it.

But yeah, socially-constructed standards of "beauty" are a problem.

Excellent, I hope they get this through. Leave it to the young ones to decide for themselves, once they reach maturity, if they want this to be done to them or not.

Of course the unspoken argument is that at that age they might be squeamish about it and forego the procedure, and then there would be fewer men thus marked as Jewish. It would impoverish the whole religion! Woe!

In the end, it won't affect the religion itself much. There will be some parents arranging the procedure though clandestine channels, or having it performed abroad. And some males, once they reach the age of maturity, would find themselves pressured to undergo the procedure by their families and religious leader, which may lead to conflict and in some cases might lead to breaks with the religion altogether. But overall, the religion will continue. At least fewer infants will be cut, so the net result is positive.

Wait a few more decades and they'll be claiming it was their idea all along.
Wait a few more decades and they'll be claiming it was their idea all along.

Lol. Amongst Reform Jews, very possibly. :)
It's about time. Sheesh.
It's instant indoctrination, when a child should have freedom from religion, making the decision later on whether or not to chop his peen. But of course, religious parents don't see it that way. Their children are THEIR CHILDREN, not people who will eventually have a mind of their own--when even at a toddler level, they should be given a little consideration as to what they want or need solely from their own thought process. In my ECE courses back in college, we discussed how frustrating it'd be if 98.9% of our daily lives were under the control of someone else, being unable to give input as to what WE want to do. That's how it is for children; it HAS to be in most cases, and we can't help it that we need jobs and what not. But why not leave extraneous *painful* things up to the person for when they're older? That's my take on it. My son didn't have the procedure, and besides minor inflammation here and there, we've never had issues.

Edited at 2012-06-17 04:03 pm (UTC)
Good. I wish the U.S. could at least get a non-religious ban (then, like Norway, work toward banning the religious mutilation of male children).
I haven't read the article, but provided it remains legal if a doctor thinks it best and for people over 18 or so, I really couldn't care less if it's banned.

If thinking that parents shouldn't be allowed to needlessly cut off bits of their kids' genitals is intolerant, then colour me intolerant.
Yeah, they specifically mention that it should be allowed in cases where health issues make it necessary. It's when it's performed on healthy children who are too young to consent that they are banning. It's an important point to clarify and you'll be pleased to know that the possibility of genuine health issues making the removal of the foreskin necessary came up.
Why would you fight for the "right" to mutilate a child's body without their consent? Because that's what's going on here. No one is "banning circumcision" - if an adult male wants to do it to prove his devotion to his faith, then he's still completely free to do so. It's the child part and the without consent part that's being banned. Let's use the words that actually describe the situation in question, religious folks!

You don't care about the circumcision part and the faith part, because you're still free to do both. You want to be able to force it on minors without their consent. Real talk, ladies and gents. Real talk.

Edited at 2012-06-17 06:59 pm (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree. People over the age of 18 can decide whatever the hell they want to to their bodies. In the meantime, children need to be protected and not seen as the property of their parents.

In Australia, we recently had a case where doctors went against the wishes of Jehovah's Witnesses and gave a life-saving blood transfusion to their 4-year-old daughter, who was dying of leukemia. The Supreme Court ruled in favour of the doctors. The Jehovah's Witnesses called the decision 'barbaric', lol.
Like most folks here, I'm in total support.
It's mind-boggling, though not surprising, the mental gymnastics to which god-blatherers will contort to defend the abuse of children.