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.

He added:

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


35 responses to “Boys circumcised for religious reasons are victims of assault, says German court”

  1. Daz says:

    Way to go Germany! Let’s hope more countries follow.

    *Braces self for invasion of child-mutilation apologists*

  2. James Loewen says:

    Just as other movements for social justice have met with bitter resistance so too does this movement for genital integrity. Eventually human rights will prevail and all children will be protected from genital mutilation by law.

  3. Lazy Susan says:

    I’m willing to bet the ruling won’t stand. Or exceptions will be allowed. The antiforeskinheads are many and strong.

  4. Alan C says:

    I wouldn’t get too exited, we already have a law in the UK against female genital mutilation, convictions so far? None.
    Estimated cases? 100,000.

  5. Angela_K says:

    Good news but the religious idiot lobby is powerful, so I expect the ruling will probably be overturned by someone claiming it is their human right to mutilate children.

    I wonder if the trolls will get this circumcision thread up to 210 posts?

  6. AgentCormac says:

    Well, it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s just hope they manage to enforce it as I’m sure there will be plenty of doctors whose religious allegiances prove to be stronger than their allegiances to the law of the land, and as a consequence are willing to perpetuate this barbaric and unnecessary mutilation ‘on the QT’.

  7. Matt Westwood says:

    @AK: No chance – being that this is Germany, Godwin’s Law should set in considerably earlier than it may otherwise have done.

    So, what Norway are still discussing, Germany have up-and-away done! This is such good news. Intact foreskins = happy marriages.

  8. JohnMWhite says:

    Good point, Matt Westwood. The German government restricting a Jewish religious practice? It’s going to get messy…

    Of course, it’s the right thing to do, and I am pleasantly surprised that a German court would be willing to set aside the obvious PR issues that such a move would cause and try to protect the genitals of children. Now if only they could also make a similarly strong move to protect their anuses from priests.

  9. barriejohn says:

    It’s a Muslim practice as well.

  10. Alan C says:

    It’s not just Jews and Muslims, aren’t most American boys circumcised?

  11. 5ec4um says:

    We all know that there are countless inconsistencies and instances of outrageous cruelty and abuses of women and children in the holy scriptures. Circumcision is an example that, for cultural reasons, has persisted. It’s time for practitioners to realise the tradition is non less barbaric than those other things that aren’t done any more.

  12. Matt Westwood says:

    @Alan C: Yep. That’s why American women are so sexually frustrated. They can’t get a decent shag. And it’s why it’s so easy for a European man to pull an American girl. Just don’t be so stupid as to a) get her pregnant, b) marry her.

    But seriously folks, there’s a backlash against the practice which is getting under way now. I gather that only about 50% of US males are chopped at birth nowadays. So this is all to the good.

    Having said that, it tends to be the mothers who want their little darlings skinless, on the grounds that it’s easier to keep clean and “once he’s a teenager I won’t be able to stand over him while he washes it.”

  13. Matt Westwood says:

    … talking of religious practices, I saw a woman today who (by her style of dress) I took to be Muslim. As I was driving down the road I saw her headscarf blow off. She didn’t seem bothered, and didn’t even bother to replace it, just carried on walking down the road with her hair out.

    Is the worm finally turning?

  14. JohnMWhite says:

    @barriejohn – I’m aware it’s a Muslim practice (and practiced secularly in some areas), but my point was that it is tied so closely with Jewish culture that I can see the shit hitting the fan when a German authority says “no, you can’t do that”.

    In the US, Medicare recently stopped covering the procedure in many states, which caused the rate to plummet. Most parents won’t pay for it out of pocket because they’re aware it’s not really necessary, but it is a bit scary that they were happy to have their children mutilated so long as it was free. The most common argument I hear in favour of it (other than the fantasy that it protects against AIDS) is that parents want their son to “look like his dad”. How much time do these fathers spend comparing penises with their children?

  15. JohnMWhite says:

    Did I say Medicare? I meant Medicaid. You the idea anyway.

  16. Lazy Susan says:

    The funny thing is that Jews and Muslims circumcise to emphasize their difference and uniqueness. Someone ought to tell them.

  17. […] Boys circumcised for religious reasons are victims of assault, says German court ( […]

  18. barriejohn says:

    JMW: I wasn’t disagreeing with you. The Jews will call it anti-semitism, as you say, regardless of the facts. It’s their trump card – or so they think.

    Lazy Susan: Well said!

  19. […] Boys circumcised for religious reasons are victims of assault, says German court ( […]

  20. Patrick Smyth says:

    I was born in the UK in 1957 into a RC family and circumcised shortly after birth. Statistics show that I was one of 2 boys out of every 10 that were born in the UK that year that were also cut. I did not ask for it and indeed as a RC should not have been cut and yet have had to live with the fact that my own personal experience is such that all my male contemporaries whose status I know of were left intact. I have always had a complex about my penis which has impacted on my life in no small way. It is about time that something was done to ban this barbaric practice.

  21. Barry Duke says:

    Patrick, I was born in South Africa in 1947. Received medical “wisdom” at the time (from the US, I guess) was that infant boys should be routinely circumcised to avoid problems in later life, and also that children’s tonsils should be whipped out at the first opportunity.

    Unfortunately, my patents went along with the first option and disregarded the second. As a consequence, throughout my teens I was plagued with enlarged tonsils which regularly caused severe throat infections, and I finally had to have them removed at the age of 20 in 1967. Amusingly, the ear, nose & throat specialist who carried out the op suggested that my recovery would be much speeded up if I SMOKED! I took his advice and made a very quick recovery.

    I don’t miss those tonsils at all (and I still smoke), However, the loss of my foreskin is something I grew to bitterly resent, and over many years have taken every opportunity to condemn this barbarity.

  22. Ward 1 says:

    As someone who’s currently sitting on a ward awaiting a circumcision of medical necessity, some of these comments make for uncomfortable reading.

    These damned doctors are trying to make me less of a cock. =)

  23. stargraves says:

    @Barry, I’m sitting here, and while I’m glad I’m intact downstairs – and wouldn’t dream of doing it to my son unless medically necessary – I’m unfortunately enduring a bout of fever and shakes, because I have tonsillitis. I wish I’d the tonsils out! (Not sure I’d take up smoking though…)

  24. remigius says:

    Yep, never mind the barbarity, the Jews are playing the anti-semitism card…

    ‘The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called it “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination”.’

    Though it’s hardly unprecedented. I seem to recall German Jews having a bit of bother a while back.

  25. Daz says:

    The president of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called it “an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination

    Oddly, I call unnecessary surgery on minors a “(sadly much precedented) intervention in the right of children to self-determination.”

  26. Har Davids says:

    I wonder what would happen if some rabbi or imam wanted to re-introduce the practice of stoning for whatever sham reason they might come up with. Surely, that wouldn’t be allowed in most secular societies, in the eyes of the religious an unprecedented and dramatic intervention?

  27. […] tribunale di Colonia si è recentemente pronunciato sul tema della circoncisione imposta ai bambini per motivi religiosi. La pratica, attuata da ebrei e musulmani, è stata […]

  28. Matt Westwood says:

    Why don’t the Jews and Muslims go the whole hog and chop the entire fucking dick off? That would be good. They’d die out in a generation.

  29. Frank Lithium says:

    It’s a good day for secularism and people with common sense.

  30. Matt Westwood says:


    “I’ve received thousands of emails in the past few days, from all over the world,” he said. “The most remarkable thing is that the emails from Israel were the most balanced and moderate.”

  31. […] CHIEF Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, delivered a swingeing attack on a German court that demanded the banning of ritual circumcision – just weeks after it was reported that another infant in the UK had died after he was mutilated […]

  32. […] CHIEF Rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, delivered a swingeing conflict on a German justice that demanded a banning of protocol circumcision – only weeks after it was reported that another tot in a UK had died after he was lame by a […]