Jun 262012

How do you feel about religious-based genital mutilation of children?

Horrified, I imagine.

The chances are that you recoil at the very notion, and yet such mutilation is legal in many countries, including Ireland.

Did you know that?  Did you know that here in Ireland, it’s perfectly legal for a clergyman to mutilate an infant’s genitalia?  It has been so for generations, but only for certain religions.

For some reason, the teachings of Judaism and those of Islam are sufficient reason to permit the surgical removal of a vital part of an infant boy’s genitalia, without medical  justification.

In this country, we quite rightly abhor the practice of female circumcision, and we prosecute anyone who attempts to carry out such a barbaric operation, yet we tolerate male circumcision, even when the only justification for it is the fact that certain religions require it and it has been carried out for thousands of years.

This is not a good reason to permit anything.  We did many things for thousands of years that we would these days regard as barbaric, but it took a German court to put it in perspective.  This was a particularly brave decision for obvious reasons, since Jewish groups are outraged about it, some of them calling the decision anti-Semitic.

In truth, it’s not a whole lot different to the Irish courts’ decisions about Jehovah’s Wtnesses trying to prevent blood transfusions for their children.  You can’t apply biblical criteria to your children’s health in a secular society.

The case involved a Muslim doctor who circumcised a child which was later admitted to hospital for heavy bleeding.  The doctor was charged with grievous bodily harm.  According to the regional court in Cologne, the “fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents”.

The court made the point that a child could decide at a later stage of life to be circumcised, but that the parents didn’t have the right to inflict such an injury on a toddler, and who could argue with that?

Not surprisingly, the court’s decision caused utter uproar among Germany’s Jews and Muslims.

The head of the Central Committee of Jews, Dieter Graumann, described the court decision as an outrageous and insensitive act. Circumcision of newborn boys is a fixed part of the Jewish religion and has been practised worldwide for centuries.

It’s hard to see how this is a valid argument in favour of child injury.  We have been mutilating boys for centuries and we believe we should because God said so.  Allow us to keep doing it.

No.  Just stop.

If a Nigerian put forward the same argument in favour of female mutilation, would anyone support him?

I see no difficulty with a grown man, Jewish or Muslim, deciding to be mutilated, but in a civilised society, I can see no justification for inflicting it on a young child.  Can you?


  22 Responses to “Court Outlaws Religious Genital Mutilation of Children”

Comments (22)

    Stop it Bock I’ve got tears in my eyes and my legs crossed.This is just more religious based bullshit and should be stopped.


    There is a movement among young men in the U S of A, mutilated in this barbaric way to restore their little members to their original beauty. What is Jehovah going to do with all those little bits anyway, make foreskin pie?


    You have it right there in your final paragraph, Bock.


    Gearohid I don’t think Jehovah’s partake in this particular ritual,but I might be wrong.


    He’s talking about Jehovah, not Jehovahs.


    I just can’t understand why anyone would expose their child to such a risky and unnecessary operation. There is always a risk of infection with surgery of any kind, which could have catastrophic results for the unfortunate infant. Does it ever occur to these religious zealots, that, we were born with a foreskin and it’s there for a fucking good reason.


    There’s a world of difference between male and female circumcision, both in motivation and more importantly long term effects.


    It’s still mutilation.


    So is nail-clipping and hair-cutting in that case.


    Hair and nails are dead tissue that eventually breaks away or is worn down naturally, so cutting them is not mutilation. A more accurate analogy might be ritually cutting off a baby’s small toe, or an ear because you claim that an ancient god said so. More to the point, if a religion demanded such mutilation, I can’t imagine any government permitting it.


    Hopefully this will also go a ways towards ending the mutilation of infant’s ears as well :) Makes me cringe to see 1 year olds with both ears pierced. But sseriously, I don’t believe that any parent has the right to make the decision to cut any part off their child unless it’s to save their life, and religious beliefs be damned. Also, hair and nails grow back. Foreskins don’t.


    Steve, I’m with you on piercings for small children – it’s quite upsetting.

    Yes, I was being facetious about the hair and nail cuttings. But I was taking issue with equating male circumcision with female genital mutilation, which is a far more harmful practice. Other than that I agree that circumcision on anything other than medical grounds is abhorrent, whether it’s for religious or other reasons — thousands of baby boys are circumcised for non-religious and non-medical reasons in the USA and Australia, amongst other countries.

    Whether it’s circumcision, piercings, or slapping, I just can’t understand how adults justify inflicting unnecessary pain on children.


    As usual, Hichens summons up the perfect words to match his indignation. No-one escapes his mighty tongue of justice. Or whatever.



    My foreskin is growing back I think. Hang on and I check again…………

    Yes, yes it is.


    So now I can get uncircumcised maybe? Go down to the local sausage factory for a bit of sheath and have it sewed on? Meh, I’ll pass, thank you.

    I agree though. Genital mutilation of an infant because of old religious dogma is ludicrous. Even as an adult I can’t see any healthy uncircumcised male type wanting to this type of procedure.


    June 28, 2012 at 1:02 am
    “ thousands of baby boys are circumcised for non-religious and non-medical reasons in the USA and Australia, amongst other countries.”
    As I understand “secular” circumcision began in the USA when in the early 20th century it was observed that Jewish women suffered less cervical cancer than the rest of the population. Circumcision was declared the hero of the day even though no correlation was shown then or ever. It was of course trumpeted as a justification for a horrid religious practice and sized upon by the medical professionals for BILLING purposes. Till recently this mutilation was done in American hospitals automatically unless parents specified other wise and no doubt unsuspecting parents are still told that their little boys can be rendered hygienic for life for a small fee of $ 300 or $ 400.


    That’s what I was thinking.. parents in the U.S. are told it’s required for hygienic reasons.. and of course, they then get to bill them for it.
    Money making racket.




    It hasn’t been outlawed in Germany. Postponed till adulthood I think.


    Yes indeed. That’s why the post is titled “Court Outlaws Religious Genital Mutilation of Children”.


    Still…nice to see those Jews and Muslims agreeing about something for a change.

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