Several news outlets have featured this article today.
In brief, the Children’s Ombudsman has responded to a consultation regarding a legal initiative to regulate circumcision in Norway
Wants age limit for circumcision
Ombudsman recommends 15 or 16 years as minimal age for circumcision.
Removal of the foreskin of male babies should not be allowed in the interests of the children, says the Children’s ombudsman -Reidar Hjermann – in an interview with Adresseavisen
– We do not want children to be exposed to non-medical interventions. To the extent they should be circumcised, they should have a chance to give their consent, at an age when they reasonably can do so, Hjermann told the newspaper.
Under Norwegian law, a 15-year-old has the right to self-determination on religious matters, while for health matters, the legal age is 16 years.
In April, the Ministry of Health and Care Services issued a consultation on a proposal for regulation on ritual circumcision in male babies. The consultation paper proposes that the procedure must be performed by doctors or other experts, and that it should be free. The Ombudsman has now replied to the consultation.
– This is about parents’ right to decide versus children’s rights. There is no medical reason to circumcise all male children, and now we have better knowledge as to how infants experience pain. Therefore we must take this discussion now, says Hjermann.
Hjermann says that he has received negative reactions from religious leaders. He has also talked with children about the case.
– We have also had meetings with four circumcised boys from the Middle East and Africa, where three of them believe an age limit is appropriate. At the same time they said that their parents’ generation would be negative to an age limit. They felt that the procedure does not have as much to do with religion, but most of culture, says Hjermann.
– Dramatic and serious
Norwegian Jews react very negatively on the Ombudsman’s view on the matter.
– The age limit is effectively a ban for those of us who circumcise our children on the eighth day. Circumcision is an existential question, and therefore the Ombudsman’s proposal dramatic and serious for us, says Ervin Kohn, leader of the Jewish community in Norway.
Secretary Tord Dale (Ap) at the Ministry of Health and Care Services told Adresseavisen that they will go through all the replies to the consultation paper, but they do not want to comment on the answers during the consultation. (AFP)
Whereas it is fair and reasonable that the State ensures the physical health and integrity of children, and puts in place requirements that demand that anybody performing circumcision is properly trained and that relevant medical assistance is on hand, the attitude of the Children’s Ombudsman reveals not only a spectacular ignorance on medical science, but fundamentally a deep-seated contempt for other cultures, religions and traditional practices.
This is not a way to integrate immigrants, but a whole sale attempt to impose assimilation. Indeed, it smacks of cultural imperialism.
Before the good Ombudsman proceeds to deny parents, families the most basic of human rights – the right to self determination, including deciding on behalf of children – he could have busied himself with health hazards that are much more acute, for instance, child obesity, second hand smoking just to mention two common problems with huge health implications.
Indeed, the Children’s ombudsman could spend his energy on protecting the lives of children – here is a link to an article in VG from May last year that details how 33 children under 15 years old were murdered by their parents between 2000 – 2010.
Maybe we should resolve such problems before we deny others their civic and human rights.