Boys circumcised for religious reasons are victims of assault, says German court
NON-THERAPEUTIC circumcisions constitute a “serious and irreversible interference” with the human body, a Cologne district court ruled yesterday.
This groundbreaking ruling effectively criminalises ritual mutilations performed by Jews and Muslims. Foreskin removal should be considered a crime of bodily harm, the court said.
The Cologne decision came after a Muslim doctor performed a circumcision on a four-year-old boy. Two days later the mother brought the child to the emergency room because he was bleeding.
The prosecutor’s office learned of the situation and filed charges against the doctor. The doctor was found not guilty in the first instance, but the prosecutor appealed.
According to this report, thousands of very young boys are circumcised in Germany each year, mainly for religious reasons.
Holm Putzke of the University of Passau said that German doctors performing non-therapeutic circumcisions have until now operated in a legal grey area.
The ruling is enormously important above all for doctors because it’s the first time that they have a legal certainty.
Putzke has been calling for prohibition for years.
The court has, in contrast to many politicians, not allowed itself to be scared by the fear of being criticised as anti-Semitic or opposed to religion.
This decision could not only affect future legal rulings but in the best case it could lead to a change of consciousness among the affected religions when it comes to respecting the basic rights of children.
Jewish and Muslim groups have fought for years against a criminalisation of circumcision. They did not have any immediate comment on yesterday’s ruling, saying they needed to review it first.
The court ruling is likely to be highly controversial – experts expect the matter will end up being decided by the Federal Constitutional Court.
Glen Poole, who runs the End Unnecessary Male Circumcision in the UK blog, said:
The news is a huge victory for ‘intactavists’ worldwide and the article [in the German Finanicial Times] acknowledges that a “massive resistance” to the practice is taking shape.
Hat tip: Glen Poole & Remigius