News

Norway wants circumcision banned

Norway wants circumcision banned

Religious leaders express their anger

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 Calling it “outdated” and “dangerous”, she called for its ban.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.

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.

See “Circumcision Turned into Porn by Catholic Paedophile” here.

215 responses to “Norway wants circumcision banned”

  1. Buffy says:

    It’s amazing how people will mutilate a newborn’s body and call it “religious freedom”. What’s more amazing is that these are typically the same people who scream about “the sanctity of life” and demand women have no control over their own reproductive systems because the rights of a fertilized egg take are paramount.

  2. Matt Westwood says:

    Full marks to Norway if they pass this.

    As for:

    a ban would serve as a very strong signal that the Jews are an unwanted minority in the country.

    Yes it would. Where’s the problem?

  3. Brian Jordan says:

    Time, I think, to start referring to it as “Male Genital Mutilation”. Then again, that might mean that any laws against it will never be enforced.

  4. Bubblecar says:

    I’ve argued for some time that if we’re serious about freedom of religious belief as a human right, there ought to be laws establishing an “age of consent for religious participation”, set high enough to ensure that people are old enough to be able to form a clear idea of the nature of religious beliefs, relative to human culture as a whole. Far from being an attack on religion, to outlaw infant circumcision – and “faith schools” – would be to finally take the human rights of children seriously, including their right to arrive at their own views on religion, free from adult attempts at indoctrination.

  5. Sally says:

    I bowed to pressure from a doctor and societal pressure and allowed the circucision of my son. I have always regretted that. Not sure this needs to be a LAW however. Can they not just educate parents to make better choices? If Norway makes this a law, what’s next? Here in America, we are having enough problems with white males who want to ban not only abortion but contraception. When they have enough majorities to do this, women will fight back even harder: no sex from women of child-bearing age. Maybe that was the goal all along.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    “…a ban would serve as a very strong signal that the Jews are an unwanted minority in the country.”

    I have to disagree with you, Matt. No, it wouldn’t. It’s their barbaric rituals that would be unwanted.

  7. Daz says:

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

    What about the freedom of the child to grow up to choose whether to indulge in these religious practices or not?

    Come to think of it, if I join a sect which believes in human sacrifice, would Mr Kohn defend my religious right to murder children? After all, Abraham was willing to do just that.

  8. Daz says:

    Sally

    Not sure this needs to be a LAW however. … If Norway makes this a law, what’s next? Here in America, we are having enough problems with white males who want to ban not only abortion but contraception.

    The two cases are not equivalent, at least not in the way you state them. Circumcision of children is a denial of the child’s right to choose and should therefore be illegal for that reason if for no other. Parenting is stewardship, not dictatorship, and the law should indeed protect children.

    If you look at it that way, you’ll see that protecting the child’s right to choose by preventing parents making the choice for them is the same argument as being pro-choice in abortion and contraception.

  9. Graham Martin-Royle says:

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

    And I very much doubt that anyone would against circumcision where it’s deemed to be a medical necessity, what people object to is a ritual involving genital surgery on children too young to have any say or choice in the matter being done purely on religious grounds.

    And what’s the betting that there would be a sudden upsurge in medical reasons for genital surgery for jewish male babies should this law be enacted?

  10. Matt Westwood says:

    There’s been some talk about “medical necessity” but I haven’t seen anyone explain what those hypothetical medical necessities might be. All I’ve seen so far is mealy-mouthed and prissy whining about “improved hygiene” or “less easy to catch STDs” and rubbish like this. But nobody has actually pointed out any irrefutable reasons at any point as to why it would ever be medically necessary to chop.

    I can hypothesise a situation whereby the foreskin may be fused, i.e. there’s no hole in the end, but in that situation all that would need to be done would be to just cut a hole, surely? And I don’t buy “the foreskin is too tight to pull back”, that’s completely bogus, the bugger stretches.

    Some enlightened doctor (one who’s not a circumcision fetishist) care to explain?

    Oh, and @AgentCormac: As I understand it, in order to be Jewish one has to be circumcised. If the two conditions are inseparable, there is no moral justification for Judaism to exist in a civilised nation. If, on the other hand, Judaism is to evolve so as to make the chop an optional, old-fashioned and unnecessary extra, then I will concede your point. It would be hoped that chop would then be on a similar status with the xtian insistence that women wear hats in church (old-fashioned, pointless and ridiculous).

  11. Joseph4GI says:

    “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.”

    I wonder what kind of signal he thinks a ban on female circumcision sends… Perhaps he thinks that the people that practice female circumcision aren’t as important as Jews?

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

    “Benefits” that no medical organization in the world has found sufficient enough to endorse he practice of infant circumcision.

    It should be noted here that a religious leader is abandoning his argument that circumcision is “an important religious tradition.” The fact of the matter is that the “religious argument” has simply lost validity. The argument fails, he has to lean on the speculative “benefits” as a crutch. He is shooting himself in the foot, as he is implying that were there no “benefits,” *then* a ban would be considerable. It is no surprise, then, that a disproportionate number of “authors” and “scientists” flooding the current medical literature with “research” showing that circumcision has “benefits” happen to be Jewish.

    “Internationally there is a plethora of medical studies which report few complications. We know that the procedure actually provides health benefits.”

    More argumentum ad verecundiam, because “my religion says so” fails.

    “Plethora of evidence?” More like a “plethora” of bullshit. Everybody knows the “studies” we’re all written by self-serving circumcision advocates who have a stake in circumcision one way or the other.

    What’s more, why do people pretend like something is justified if you can write some paper that says it has “benefits?”

    Would there ever be a “plethora” big enough to legitimize female circumcision? What if it can be “proven” that it has “benefits?” Would we honestly change our minds?

    There are somethings that are so wrong it doesn’t matter how much “science” and “research” you throw at it.

    Interesting they try to appeal to the masses and authority, as if they were actually in their favor; The trend of opinion on routine male circumcision is overwhelmingly negative in industrialized nations. No respected medical board in the world recommends circumcision for infants, not even in the name of HIV prevention. They must all point to the risks, and they must all state that there is no convincing evidence that the benefits outweigh these risks. To do otherwise would be to take an unfounded position against the best medical authorities of the West.

    Genital mutilation, whether it be wrapped in culture, religion or “research” is still genital mutilation.

    It is mistaken, the belief that the right amount of “science” can be used to legitimize the deliberate violation of basic human rights.

    “Urinary tract infections for example are far less common among circumcised boys.”

    Girls tend to have more UTIs than boys, whether they are circumcised or not. What’s more, UTIs are already easily treated with anti-biotics.

    It makes absolutely no sense to mutilate a child to “reduce” conditions that are already rare, and/or easily treated.

    “The risk of HIV contamination is also reduced.”

    Because these religious leaders are expecting for their followers’ children to be promiscuous sex fiends too stupid to learn to wear condoms?

    Incidentally, what is the rate of HIV transmission in Norway? I’m afraid it is worlds lower than the US, where 80% of American men are circumcised. (Circumcision is limited to Jews and Muslims in Norway.)

    I find it entertaining that the “religious” argument is so incredibly weak that even religious leaders know they have to feign an interest in “research” and “public health.”

    And finally;
    “Those who will forbid circumcision of young boys in reality invite a totalitarian guardian-state.”

    As forbidding the circumcision of young girls has in other countries has?

    Ad populum, ad verecundiam, ad hoc, slippery slopes and special pleading.

    These men’s claims are logically fallacious.

  12. Joseph4GI says:

    “I can hypothesise a situation whereby the foreskin may be fused, i.e. there’s no hole in the end, but in that situation all that would need to be done would be to just cut a hole, surely?”

    It would be very interesting to know what scientists call this condition. As far as I am aware, there is no such thing. If you know of a scientific paper that documents such a case, do provide a link, as I’d like to know what it’s called.

    With most other anomalies, surgeons try to save the affected organ, limb, gland etc. Standard medical practice dictates that radical surgery be reserved as a last resort, where other methods of treatment have failed.

    Full foreskin extirpation is medically dictated in only very rare cases. But the same goes for the toes, fingers, nose, eyes or any other body part that develops complications…

    “And I don’t buy “the foreskin is too tight to pull back”, that’s completely bogus, the bugger stretches.”

    A look at the medical literature reveals that “the foreskin is too tight to pull back” in most children all the way up to puberty. Max Hodges points out that before closer inspection of the development of male genitalia, doctors were circumcising, pathologizing what are actually normal stages of development of the penis.

    A foreskin that is too tight to pull back in adult males is possible, but even so, it is not always indicative of surgical intervention.

    “As I understand it, in order to be Jewish one has to be circumcised. If the two conditions are inseparable, there is no moral justification for Judaism to exist in a civilised nation.”

    If the two conditions are inseparable, then it sounds like there can only be male Jews… Interestingly enough, “What is a Jew?” (Mihu Yehudi?) continues to be an issue amongst Jewish authorities, even today… But this sounds like a discussion for a different blog post…

  13. Matt Westwood says:

    “As I understand it, in order to be Jewish one has to be circumcised. If the two conditions are inseparable, there is no moral justification for Judaism to exist in a civilised nation.”

    If the two conditions are inseparable, then it sounds like there can only be male Jews…

    Whoops, sorry, my mistake. But you know what I meant.

    As a geography teacher told us on a trip to Israel once: “Q: What do you call an uncircumcised Jew? A: Female.”

  14. dan says:

    I’m not a fan of government intervention on almost anything. But I’m torn on this because what is being done to kids is disgusting. I have never said anything to my parents, but there is a huge amount of anger in me now that I realize what has been taken away from me.

    All I can say is if you circumcise your child before they are old enough to know what is happening, you had better be prepared for the backlash later. My dad is already gone, but this affects how I feel about my mom.

  15. FlickingYourSwitch says:

    There is nothing against Jews in such a law, unless being a Jew includes being a barbarian.

  16. LeetroyJnkns says:

    This is a no brainer. Female genital mutilation is always illegal, no matter how integral it is to her parents culture or religion. The important thing to note is that it is integral to many cultures, particularly in Africa. Read Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali if you want to know more.

    If female genital mutilation is illegal, male genital mutilation is illegal, full stop. We just need to lobby to get the laws enforced. In Finland, the law is much less ambiguous about genital mutilation and thus male genital mutilation is illegal and not practised.

  17. Alan C says:

    If they believe we are made perfect in gods image why the need for alterations?

  18. Michael W says:

    0. Glad you guys have been enjoying your circle-jerk.

    1. It is not fair to call circumcision “Male Genital Mutilation.” The two bear NO resemblance to each other. To say so betrays a lack of understanding of the two.

    2. I am a Jewish man, but I am not a religious Jewish man, and I have no children. I am circumcised. I don’t care that I was circumcised. I do like that I am tied to my ancestors in this way. Since I do not care, and it meant something to my parents when they did it, I am happy to live in a society that allows this.

    3. @Matt Westwood: Your comment “Where’s the problem” is bigoted. You should apologize.

    4. I do think the state has a right to protect children from poor parenting. I don’t think circumcision is as bad as the mental abuse that much fundamental religion inflicts upon the youth. Ban fundamental beliefs, too, and we can talk.

    I’ll take my abuse off the air.

  19. thor says:

    @matt westwood: i’m not a doctor (nor a circumcision fetishist) but when i was a baby i was born with a rare condition called hypospadias. hypospadias means the urethra doesn’t form properly, and as a result the peehole can be in the wrong spot.

    for me it meant that i couldn’t pee properly (i don’t really remember this, this is just what i was told). when i was maybe 5 or 6, i had corrective surgery which involved circumsizing me and using the foreskin to patch me up. as i understand it, if extra skin is needed to correct this condition, the foreskin of the child is the best to use. though, i’m not a doctor, hypospadias is a complex topic, and i don’t understand all of it.

    btw, my penis works fantastic thanks to modern medical science.

  20. Dale says:

    frick off jenny. My family wasn’t religious at all and i was circumcised and im so glad they did. I dont see it as a ”
    mutilation” I prefer it.

  21. The Ruckus The Ruckus ohhh The Ruckus says:

    I am circumcised, and have never really given it a second thought. It hasn’t caused me any problems, and in fact it makes it easier when showering, not as much cleaning to do. There are definite hygiene, and health benefits. Plus, as a man, reading an article by a woman, talking about organs she doesn’t have, I have decided it is invalid. I don’t pretend to know what’s best for vaginas, because I don’t have one.

    Plus, the antisemitism by the poster about only having “male” jews, considering the only way you can be “Jewish” is if your mother is, not your father. The complete lack of education on this subject is mind boggling. Take the religious aspect out of it, and you all sound like a bunch of 2nd graders arguing Quantum Physics with Einstein, sounding stupid, and yet not stopping to consider your words.

  22. bob says:

    Funny how people say they “prefer” it so they stand up for themselves before they realize that they probably were cut at a young age, therefore cannot give an unbiased opinion on which they “prefer” if they have never experienced it any other way.

  23. […] "CRITEO-300×250", 300, 250); 1 meneos Proponen prohibir la circuncisión por motivos religiosos en Noruega freethinker.co.uk/2012/06/17/religious-leaders-furious-ov…  por saulot hace […]

  24. The Ruckus The Ruckus ohhh The Ruckus says:

    Right back at you. @bob. It’s funny how asinine that sounds.

    “The only thing that ever consoles man for the stupid things he does is the praise he always gives himself for doing them.”
    -Oscar Wilde

  25. The Ruckus The Ruckus ohhh The Ruckus says:

    Perhaps we should ban surgeries of any kind on newborns, they don’t choose to have their lives saved. Plus, it kind of kicks natural selection in the balls.

  26. Factory says:

    Want to see medical support for MGM dry up? Ban the sale, or use, of ‘discarded’ foreskins. Mandate their destruction upon removal, no exceptions, and you will see the medical community suddenly become uninterested in pursuing the issue.

  27. Living in the Dark Ages says:

    You’re welcome to get yourself circumcised when you’re 18. You don’t have the right to mutilate your child.

    This is coming – in 20 years infant circumcision will be illegal in most of the places where gay marriage is currently legal.

    Change is scary, and it’s human nature to hold beliefs that justify your own actions. But if you circumcised your child, you committed an immoral act, one that you will come to regret in time.

  28. Matt Westwood says:

    @The Ruckus The Ruckus ohhh The Ruckus

    Right back at you. @bob. It’s funny how asinine that sounds.

    No, what’s asinine is you claiming you prefer being circumcised, because you don’t know what it’s like not to be circumcised.
    Consequently you’re the idiot here.

    Perhaps we should ban surgeries of any kind on newborns, they don’t choose to have their lives saved.

    Argumentum per strawman.

    Surgery on newborns to save their lives is not the same as surgery on newborns to assuage the neuroses and primitive superstitions of their shitwit parents.

    Because you were chopped without being given the choice, you think it’s right to make continue the practice because then the poor little buggers will have to go through the same paltry shitty life that you have? That makes you a sadist as well as a shitwit.

  29. Mary says:

    Gross! That is just my personal opinion. I won’t try to force it on anyone. Anyway, it shouldn’t be banned. It should be an option. Do or don’t, it’s up to you. I say DO!, but hey I won’t pressure you. People need to CFO, and quit trying to make people conform to whaty they think is right. If it is left on the table as an option, who cares? I find it funny that “religious” people are chastised for imposing their beliefs on people. This is some other zealot of a non-religious nature imposing their beliefs on other people. Maybe we should spend time on far bigger issues.

  30. Matt Westwood says:

    @Dale: It is clearly proven that circumcision is a direct cause of arrested intellectual development.

  31. Chris says:

    What is the relationship between circumcision and cancer of the penis?

    The predicted lifetime risk of cancer of the penis in an uncircumcised man is one in 600 in the U.S. Cancer of the penis carries a mortality rate as high as 25%. This cancer occurs almost exclusively in uncircumcised men. In five major research studies, no man who had been circumcised as a newborn developed cancer of the penis. Human papillomavirus types 16 and 18, which are sexually transmitted, are involved in cancer of the penis.

    http://www.medicinenet.com/circumcision_the_medical_pros_and_cons/page5.htm

  32. dan says:

    LOL, who the hell would prefer to be uncircumcised?

    “Hey guys, I sure love having an ugly looking dick that you have to clean and shit”

    Also. Zippers.

  33. Matt Westwood says:

    @The Ruckus The Ruckus ohhh The Ruckus

    Whoops, apologies, it wasn’t you saying you prefer being circumcised, I misattributed. Sorry. That “asinine” claim should not have been directed at you.

    The rest of the post stands, though.

  34. Mary says:

    Oh, and I don’t view circumcision as religious, I just think it’s good for man to be circumcised. My ex wasn’t and was not happy about it. He said his mom was a hippy and didn’t want to see her kid in pain. He was super insecure about it. Now it would be a major surgery to get it done, which he can’t afford.

  35. Paul M says:

    God creates man in his image and then demands that he severs off a part of himself. Makes perfect sense.

  36. Simon says:

    So those saying it is very rarely medically necessary, what do you think of non Jewish parents having their child circumcised? Is that acceptable?

  37. Jinxxed says:

    @Mary, would you be ok with having 50% of the nerve endings on your genitalia removed (pretty much all of your inner labia) while having your clitoris exposed so that the skin on it grew so thick that half of the sensitivity was gone?

    No? But it’s cute and “good for the woman”. *shakes head in disbelief*

  38. Jinxxed says:

    @Dan, so… you don’t clean your penis?

    That’s kinda gross.

    The sensitivity when circumcised is roughly the same as it is for an uncircumcised man who’s wearing five condoms. (loss of 50% of the nerve endings in the penis which are in the foreskin and increasing the skin thickness on the glans 3-10(!) fold)

  39. Gruntig says:

    I find it bizarre that no one has a moral problem with killing a future human being, yet people seem to be disgusted by the cutting of a flap of skin.

  40. Har Davids says:

    I’m no religious scholar, so could someone explain why a ban would serve as a very strong signal that the Jews are an unwanted minority in the country? Just the fact that you can no longer cut a piece of your son’s dick, or his nose or ears, only means that it’s time to stop a unnecessary procedure. God Almighty surely knows his flock, cut or uncut. Let the boy become a man and decide if he wants a visible covenant between himself and his god; by the time he’s 18 years old he may go the whole hog and have himself neutered.

  41. Jinxxed says:

    @Simon, if it’s not for medical reasons then it is simply genital mutilation and should never occur.

    Religious reason or not doesn’t matter to me in the least, nor does cultural reasons (which is usually the case when it comes to female genital mutilation).

  42. Gruntig says:

    Why is religion the only thing that your child cannot be taught until he’s 18. Do you believe you should not express any of your political beliefs or moral convictions to your child? Why can you train your son to follow football, basketball etc. while you wish to disallow me from teaching my son to follow my religious beliefs?

  43. Jinxxed says:

    In the olden timey days it used to make sense since they bathed once a month and in dirty bacterial infested water but these days we have running water.

    It’s the same thing as with most of the OT laws on cleanliness and diet restrictions, there was a reason for it that is not long gone.

    However, as the times change the religion stays the same so Muslims and Jews still live by the laws and still circumcise their boys.

    Why this would be a message to Jews when Muslims are the single largest group that circumcise their baby boys i do not know.

  44. dan says:

    Jinxxed,

    I’m guessing that A- you are woman, and B- you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    You clearly don’t know the difference between cleaning/cleanliness between a circumcised penis and uncircumcised.

    Also, how can you compare female genital mutilation to circumcision? They are not the same.

    I understand the main argument that men should have a choice in the matter, but a small surgery becomes a much bigger issue when doing it at age 18.

    P.S. Your 5 condom sensitivity analogy was friggin hilarious.

  45. Gruntig says:

    @Jinxxed Is ear piercing bodily mutilation? I can not help if your mind is limited to 0’s and 1’s.

  46. Simon says:

    @Jinxxed

    Thats entirely my point! If parents arent religious then surely they wouldnt have it done unless necessary?

  47. Jinxxed says:

    @Dan, nope, wrong on both counts but it’s cute that you are still trying after failing so miserable. 😀

    Removing 50% of the nerve endings in the genitalia is what? Mutilation?

    Yup, call it what it is and don’t be so sad about having less than half of the sensitivity in your penis, i’m sure that since you don’t clean it it will get sore enough to make you wish you had no sensitivity in it eventually. 😀

  48. Jinxxed says:

    @Simon, and yet they still do, i do not know why but it’s probably a cultural tradition.

  49. Nora says:

    What anti-circumcision fanatics WON’T tell you: http://goo.gl/kKPgD

  50. dan says:

    Oh sorry, I forgot,

    stats regarding circumcision in a good light are all bullshit and wrong.

    However, your medical background and statistics that circumcision removes 50% of the nerve endings in the penis is correct. Obviously. My mistake Doctor.

    Let me also quote the highly respected Doctor Jinxxed:

    “The sensitivity when circumcised is roughly the same as it is for an uncircumcised man who’s wearing five condoms.”

    … You think someone would do that? Go on the internet and tell lies?