Circumcision of boys is mutilation


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.

Support Intact Denmark’s work – donate here. Every little bit helps.

1597118_10202827902075973_1920636240_oOn 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.

Chairwoman Lena Nyhus - Intact DenmarkYou 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.

Join Intact Denmark and support the organisations efforts. Press here.

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.

Omskæring ér lemlæstelseI 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!

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Another Danish Party Adopts Stance Against Non-therapeutic Circumcision


VU logo

Yet another Danish political party has adopted stance against circumcision of healthy boys. Venstres Ungdom which is a liberal right-wing youth party has just voted on the issue 30 minutes ago. Venstres Ungdom is not in parliament but resolutions passed there can sometimes be used to vet the mother party’s stance on certain issues.

(Venstres Ungdom translates to the Youth of the Left for historical reasons but is a right-wing party)

A defense of the foreskin


By Mikael Aktor
Originally published in the Danish daily INFORMATION and on INTACT DENMARK 10th July 2013 and to

If accidents or disease reduce the bodily functions of a child, we do whatever we can to remedy the damage. Why then inflict such a loss on healthy children ourselves?

June 27 was a sad day for Danish boys. On this day the minister of health, Astrid Krag, rejected legislation against boy circumcision on the basis of a newly delivered report from the Health Council. But the report and Krag’s arguments only relate to a very narrow health perspective, they do not deal with the equally important human rights aspects.

I am a member of an association – Intact Denmark, Association Against Child Circumcision – which has as it’s goal to restrict circumcision to persons who themselves express the wish to have it done and who have reached the age of consent. The arguments for this view among the members of the association vary but my own is quite Continue reading

Strong documentary on circumcision


Mischief: Circumcise Me? A documentary on circumcision. Exploring the hows and whys of circumcision, medical pros and cons. Sexual consequences. And finally coming to a conclusion: Should this baby boy be cut – not?

Lucking Into Bris Shalom


© 2011 Sarah Rockwell / Beyond the BrisAs a Jew I grew up thinking circumcision was normal. All of my younger cousins and the sons of family friends were circumcised. All the children I babysat for were circumcised. The sound of a wailing baby at a Bris was something familiar–as was the apparently peacefully sleeping baby afterward. The first time I saw an intact baby boy, I thought he looked strange.
When I was a teenager, my father started complaining about circumcision. He would say things like, “I don’t understand why, in a world full of pain, we choose to put our baby boys through even more pain.” It was only when I was pregnant with my son, and had a serious conversation with my father about circumcision, that I discovered he would not have wanted to cut a son of his own. He said to me, “There is enough pain in this world, why would anyone want to inflict pain on a newborn baby so that pain is all he knows of life?”Sarah RockwellAlthough I grew up as a Conservative Jew, learned to read Hebrew, had a Bat Mitzvah, and even kept kosher for a while, I gradually became more secular. I discovered a Reconstructionist synagogue in Miami and loved the Rabbi’s philosophy: “Judaism is like you grandmother’s attic–you take things down Continue reading

I was shocked…


By Eran Sadeh

My name is Eran Sadeh. I am Israeli. I am Jewish.

Eran Sadeh speaking out on circumcision

Eran Sadeh speaking out on circumcision

I was born 43 years ago in Tel Aviv, a healthy baby with a perfect body. 8 days after I was born one man held my tiny legs down while another man cut a part of my penis off with a knife.

I was in pain, I screamed, I bled. It’s over. But the part that was cut off from my penis is forever gone.

36 years later my son was born. Two days before Continue reading

Circumcision and Jewish Identity


Jewish Scholar Miriam Pollack discusses male genital cutting (aka circumcision/genital mutilation) from a Jewish perspective. Many interesting and enlightened points.

Can you give me back my foreskin? (Full translation)


Open letter to Bent Lexner, Chief Rabbi of Denmark

By Leo Milgrom
(Milgroms translation of his original piece published in Danish daily Politiken ‘Kan du give mig min forhud tilbage?‘ 07/28/2012 and first covered by this blog here.)

March 1980: a man drives into a neighborhood south of Copenhagen. He stops in front of a terraced house, walks up the stairs to the first floor and into the bedroom where he proceeds to greet the people present. He recites a number of verses – and then he cuts of my foreskin and takes it with him.

32 years later I have grown up to write to you, Bent Lexner, because you are Chief Rabbi and in charge of Jewish circumcisions in Denmark. Questions have piled up Continue reading

Age Restrict Circumcision in Germany


Sign the petition to German Chancellor Sabine Leuhtheusser-Schnarrenberger here.

 

Would you cut the nipple off your child?


Of course you wouldn’t cut the nipple off you child and I dare say you wouldn’t find many parents anywhere on earth who would allow anyone to cut off their children’s nipples for no apparent reason at all. Why would they? It would be barbaric, wouldn’t it?

But still, world wide a vast number of parents decide to have their children’s genitals mutilated. What is it that makes it acceptable for parents to allow someone to cut off foreskin or labia or perhaps the clitoris on perfectly healthy baby or child?

I simply fail to comprehend the logic. I just cannot for the life of me understand why some parents would choose this for their children.

I understand that Continue reading

German Paediatric Association suggests Ban on Circumcision of Boys


In early December 2012 The German Paediatric Association took a massive leap forward in the defence of children subjected to genital mutilation.

Based on comprehensive studies into amongst others circumcision procedures, pain thresholds in infants and children as well as possible physical and psychological consequences of the procedure the German Paediatric Association (Berufsverband der Kinder- und Jugendärzte e.V.) recommended a ban on circumcision of boys.

Referring to studies by numerous specialists their conclusion was clear Continue reading

Circumcision Tantamount to Bodily Harm


by Lena Nyhus / iQvixen

It's boy

Screenshot from ‘It’s a Boy’ a documentary by Victor Schönfeld available for download on http://www.realeyz.tv/de/its-a-boy.html

Circumcision Tantamount to Bodily Harm a local Cologne (Köln) court ruled in May 2012. The ruling enraged Jewish and Muslim communities all over Germany and provoked an intense debate on the issue reaching as far up as parliament, which is currently debating legislative action.

The dilemma faced by the legislative body and the public alike is how to balance considerations concerning the child’s rights as well as respecting religious minorities and avoiding notions of discrimination.

With one part claiming parental and religious privileges and the other citing the child’s right to protection from abuse and bodily harm the borders are sharply drawn at the best of times and voices of the debate shrill, but at this point neither part of the conflict seem confident that their particular point of view will conquer.

In the middle of this tense atmosphere award-winning Jewish filmmaker Victor Schönfeld presents ‘It’s a boy’ a documentary on infant circumcision – botched infant circumcision. Reportedly Professor Dr. iur. Reinhard Merkel, member of the German Ethics Council has called for members of the Bundestag to view the film before they legislate on a general permission for non-medical circumcisions of young boys, naming it a “noble obligation”.

‘Circumcised radio host: It is Pure Torture’


by Lena Nyhus / iQvixen

When the debate about male genital mutilation (so-called circumcision) flared up in Denmark during the summer of 2012 one of the most compelling opinions voiced was that of journalist and author Kjeld Koplev; ‘In my opinion it is pure torture!’ he exclaimed in a column printed in the prominent Danish newspaper Politiken on 07/18/2012 and continued to explain how the circumcision he suffered through as an infant had left him traumatized and with castration anxiety lasting into adulthood and crippling his life and sexuality.

Read the full article here (in Danish)

‘Circumcision is not an act of love.’ he wrote as a response to an opinion voiced by journalist Anders Jerichouw in an editorial in Politiken 07/15/2012 ‘It is a selfish act, wherein some people – in misunderstood religious zealousness – abuse and brand an infant boy. Not more nor less. Any other opinion is simply a rationalisation.’

A circumcised child existing in a primarily uncircumcised society such as the Danish suffers from yet another torment; he is ostracised. Perhaps not literally, but in his own mind. Being different at an age where one desperately wishes to just fit in can be extremely challenging.

Mr. Koplev draws attention to the UN-concention on Childrens Rights (ratified by Denmark) and claims that surely circumcision must be considered a violation.

Accusations of anti-Semitism and other parallels to Nazism and fascism are frequent in the debate about circumcision but as Mr. Koplev frases it; ‘Naturally, my opposition has nothing to do with hatred towards Jews.’ Just as the opposition to female genital mutilation is not rooted in hate towards Islam, the opposition towards male genital mutilation (aka circumcision) is not by any means related to anti-Semitism.

It would be suitable Koplev states if the practitioners themselves abandoned the barbaric tradition of genital mutilation of both boys and girls even before legislation restricts it.

An Insight into the Danish Circumcision Debate


By Lena Nyhus
Published in The Jerusalem Post
10/15/2012

See the original piece here

To many Danes the case is simple; any man or woman may do with their own bodies what they see fit, but no one should be allowed to make decisions about non-medically warranted procedures on behalf of anybody else.

In the article “Assault on Jewish customs in Scandinavia,” which appeared in The Jerusalem Post on October 8, Magnus Frank paints a bleak and unfortunately rather biased picture of the current debate regarding the circumcision of un-consenting boys in Denmark.I find it imperative to present the Israeli public with a broader view on the debate than the one offered by Frank. Persecution of minorities, i.e. anti-Semitism, is a very serious issue and an offence that the authorities in Denmark take a very strong view on indeed, which Magnus Frank probably knows very well. I am also sure that he is well aware of how rare an offence it is in Danish society, which is widely inclusive and in fact highly secular.Speculating that the media and a wide variety of the debating Danish public may have ulterior motives in the ongoing discussion regarding circumcision is an unnecessary and unproductive approach to the debate and frankly it only serves to demonstrate that Frank may simply lack proper arguments for his point of view.

The majority of the voices raised against circumcision have three main points: firstly, the basic human right to an intact body. When there are no medical reasons to perform surgery on a child, any procedure must be considered an assault.Secondly, research has shown that in societies such Denmark’s where good healthcare and high hygiene standards prevail there are hardly any medical benefits from circumcision. When it comes to preventing STD’s, for instance, a much more effective approach is the simple use of condoms.

Thirdly, there is the concern that if there are any risks the child may suffer health or sexual consequences from the circumcision immediately after the procedure or perhaps later on in life as an adult, it should be prohibited.

This is a debate about the individual’s freedom of choice, about avoiding the infliction of unnecessary pain and suffering for non-medically warranted procedures and about the prevention of health and sexual complications later in life.

It should be noted that Prof. Morten Frisch’s study, which was questioned by Frank, has incorporated a number of measures to ensure the statistical validity of the data as well as peer review, which is of course the very reason it was deemed fit to be published in a respectable international medical journal in the first place.

Prof. Frisch’s study suggests that a significantly larger number of circumcised men report sexual problems than do their intact peers. In addition, women in relationships with circumcised males report sexual problems more frequently than do women with intact partners.

Therefore Prof. Frisch has found it vital to call for further studies. It is paramount to understand the potential consequences of circumcision.

The majority of the circumcised subjects in the study were not of Muslim or Jewish origin.

It is my understanding that if the study were to be transferred to for instance US, it indicates that approximately 10 million American men maybe more and their respective partners suffer from sexual problems that are less frequent among their intact peers.

Important to the understanding of the Danish debate is also the simple fact that circumcision is not a common procedure in Denmark, so it is primarily performed by the Jewish and Muslim community and in connection with medically warranted circumstances.

It would be fair for an outsider to assume that the Danish debate might well have xenophobic undertones, however that does not appear to be the case. Rather the case is simply that the majority of Danes place a very high value on personal freedom of choice and are naturally sceptical of non-consensual non-medically warranted procedures.

Mr. Magnus Frank brings up another interesting point in his piece, namely that the circumcised males in Denmark supposedly generally enjoy “a much higher level of education, income, and living compared to the average Dane.”

While that may be true of the Jewish population in Denmark (I have never seen studies to prove it, but am inclined to think that it may very well be correct) it is unfortunately not true when it comes to the Muslim population in Denmark.

Multiple studies have shown that while young Muslim women in Denmark generally excel in the educational system, the young Muslim men fail to follow their example. So I am inclined to think that the ability to achieve a high level of education, income and standard of living does not depend on the amputation of highly specialized and sensitive skin in the genital area but rather on other cultural factors.

In Denmark it is regarded deeply unacceptable to inflict pain or abuse on children – any pain or abuse. Therefore children’s rights are protected throughout the legislation, universally banning for instance spankings and other forms of physical acts of violence against children. The legislation also protects the children from psychological abuse and it protects girls from non-medically warranted circumcision procedures also known as female genital mutilation.

Boys do not currently enjoy the same right to bodily integrity under Danish legislation as girls do. A recent poll indicates that a majority of the Danish population finds that it is time to ensure the boys equal rights.

To many Danes the case is simple; any man or woman may do with their own bodies what they see fit, when they reach adulthood, but no one – not even parents – should be allowed to make decisions about performing permanent non-medically warranted potentially harmful procedures on behalf of anybody else.