AT meeting Oslo last week, Nordic ombudsmen for children, paediatricians, and paediatric surgeons agreed a resolution urging their national governments to work for a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of under-age boys.
According to this report, the children’s ombudsmen from the five Nordic countries – Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland – along with the Chair of the Danish Children’s Council and the Children’s spokesperson for Greenland passed a resolution to:
Let boys decide for themselves whether they want to be circumcised.
The ombudsmen concluded that:
Circumcision without a medical indication on a person unable to provide informed consent conflicts with basic principles of medical ethics.
They found the procedure:
To be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, articles 12, and 24 (3) which say that children should have the right to express their own views and must be protected from traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health.
Dr Antony Lempert, a GP and spokesperson for the UK Secular Medical Forum (SMF) applauded this historic resolution and urged the UK and devolved Governments to work towards protecting all UK children at risk of forced genital cutting. He said:
This important statement by the Nordic child protection experts is grounded in common sense. Children’s basic rights to bodily integrity and to form their own beliefs should not be overridden because of their parents’ religious or cultural practices.
Dr Lempert argued that:
With an increasing awareness of serious irreversible harm caused to boys and girls from forced genital cutting it is time for the genitals of all children to be protected from people with knives and strong religious or cultural beliefs. There can be no justification for healthy children to be forcibly cut. All children deserve society’s protection from serious harm.
In 2011, a Danish study found that circumcised men faced an increased risk of experiencing delayed orgasm, and their female partners had an increased risk of not feeling sexually fulfilled.
Some 5,000 sexually active men and women were surveyed about their experiences and possible problems with their sex lives. With a specific focus on circumcised men and their women, the results were described as “startling”.
Said one of the researchers, Associate Professor Morten Frisch from Danish research enterprise SSI:
Circumcised men are three times as likely to experience a frequent inability to reach an orgasm … Previous studies into male circumcision have looked at the effects it has on the men. But scientists have never really studied the effects this has on the women’s sex lives.
It appears that women with circumcised men are twice as likely to be sexually frustrated. They experience a three-fold risk of frequent difficulties in achieving orgasm, and an eight-fold risk of feeling pain during intercourse – also known as dyspareunia.
According to Frisch, the study has received a great deal of international attention. For example, he has been contacted by politicians in California, who are very pleased with the results of the study because they wanted to ban circumcision in their federal state.
Others are less excited, saying the research is controversial.
This is a highly sensitive issue, and some people oppose the publication of this kind of research. Some people have actually tried to stop the publication of our article.
Certain groups and individuals are lobbying in favour circumcising all men, explained Frisch. Not necessarily out of religious concern, but because they believe that circumcision has a health-promotional effect. Pro-mutilationists frequently argue that cicumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection.
UPDATE: European leaders brand circumcision as as a human rights violation.
Hat tip: Graham Martin-Royle