In Denmark the debate about circumcision of boys is raging. It has reached the headlines of national news papers as well as the opinion pages in the local ones.
Politicians, commentators, medical experts and children’s rights advocates are debating the issue. In 2013 circumcision without medical indication reached the Danish media more than 200 times. Less than one month into 2014 it looks as though that number may quadruple at the very least during the year to come.
If all goes according to plan, Denmark is less than a year from a total ban on circumcision of healthy boys. Intactivist are working for an 18 year age limit for elective genital surgery.
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On 22nd January 2014 Dahir Jama Roobleh posted in local Danish paper Fyens Stiftstidende “Circumcision is not mutilation, Lena Nyhus, Chairwoman of Intact Denmark, an organisation which fights to ban circumcision in Denmark. Dear Lena, you must respect and accept our action, which is performed by Jews and Muslims. Do not interfere with our faith!”
Circumcision is mutilation
Dear Dahir Jama Roobleh
“Do not interfere with circumcision of boys, it’s a religious act performed by Jews and Muslims”, you wrote to on 22nd January 2014.
I do not mind explaining why Intact Denmark – Against Circumcision of Children and I would not even consider abandoning the issue. We are an organisation founded by people with Jewish, Muslim and Christian backgrounds. Some of faith, some not. We are all of the opinion that the child has a right to it’s own body, a right to protection against mutilation, a right to a personal choice of religion and in particular the right to choose whether that religion should include saying goodbye to their most sensitive body parts.
Parents do not hold ownership rights to their children, they have the obligation to care for them. That does not give them the right to cut functioning parts of their children’s genitals.
You may not know it, but this Tuesday (21st January 2014) the Danish National Board of Health ended a hearing on “Guidelines to Circumcision of Boys), in that context the Danish Medical Association, the Danish College of Medical Practitioners, the National Council for Children, the Danish Family Planning Association, Children’s Welfare and a number of other super talented professionals have taken a stance on circumcision of boys in addition to Intact Denmark, naturally.
In common for all the answers to the hearing I have had a chance to see is the opinion htat circumcision of boys without medical indication is mutilation. As simple as that. An opinion shared with 85% of the Danish population. We must have legislation to protect the children now.
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Allow me to explain why:
Children are persons in their own right. They have rights. They have the right to their own bodies. They have a right to their own religious beliefs. Those rights are strictly personal and every bit as inalienable as your personal rights and mine. That means that I may not amputate part of your healthy body. That means that I may not force my personal cultual, religious and aesthetic preferences on you. It also means that you may not do that to your children.
The religious freedom is personal. It does not include the right to carve your religion into the body of another human being. Not even if this human being is your own child.
Of course the adult man who understands consequences and riscs should be able to choose circumcision if he wishes to say goodbye to half of the sensitivity of his penis. Of course he should be able to choose to mark his religion or culture on his body. That is his choice. His free right. His human right.
The basis of our life in a democracy is the respect for each persons human rights. That is why I interfere in the question of circumcision of boys. That is why the members of Intact Denmark have entrusted me with the position of Chairwoman.
I will not stop until boys are protected from unnecessary surgery to their genitals, just as girls are under the current legislation.
Thank you for raising the issue in Fyens Stiftsstidende Dahir Jama Roobleh, without your effort I might not have had the chance to inform the papers readers about this issue. I suggest that we arrange a debate, during which we can talk it through thoroughly. What do you say?
In conclusion may I suggest that you try a thought experiment? Imagine a religion which demands that fingers, toes or ears are cut off the children. Would you accept that the neighbours children came to school without their left ring finger (it has fewer funtions than the foreskin by far) or perhaps without an ear? Where would you draw the line?
I claim that you and I would agree on that issue, just as I assume we will, when it comes to circumcision of girls. One does not cut healthy children!