Norwegian phobia against circumcision

The Christian daily Vårt Land runs a separate discussion forum, verdidebatt.no. The readers of Vårt Land tend to have a high academic profile, perhaps even elitist. Hence, one expects more of this debate forum than others, where they do not flag values and ethics as important guiding principles. Not that the debate therefore must be toothless, but certain forms of expression should perhaps not be encouraged?

A reader called Kjetil Stenvik has provided the following to the debate on circumcision. It is a shame that verdidebatt’s moderator is hopelessly undereducated on the facts on circumcision on the one hand, and racist remarks on the other, otherwise, he or she might have decided to use the delete button for this entry:

Circumcision – state-sponsored abuse

Published 27 October – 563 views Post
Several years has passed since the Norwegian society focused on female circumcision in the Muslim community. Nowadays, submissions to the consultation on the circumcision of boys requested by the Ministry of Health and Care Services are being reviewed. It is high time.

It is strange that none of the regulatory proposals on circumcision of male children mention a ban. Rather, the proposed alternatives only suggest that circumcision either be performed by health professionals or that it can be carried out by religious leaders. The fact that a ban is not an option is appalling, but understandable.
It is understandable, at a time when powerful forces in Israel characterizes Norway as the most anti-Semitic country in the world, where research in schools shows that Jewish children feel harassed and where 22 July has given Norway a collective fear of xenophobia. Appalling, because the circumcision of boys should be characterized as an abuse.

First, as Lars Gule points out in his submission (reproduced on vl.no 10.26), it represents a religious abuse. When you mark a person for life with a religious affiliation without its consent, but with the public consent, this is a breach of the individual freedom of belief. Second, and as the Norwegian Medical Association points out, it is not acceptable to remove a healthy part of body without the person’s consent. It is about the right to decide over one’s own body.

The special case of Jews

While Muslims can accept that the abuse is carried out by a doctor, it has been pointed out that only a mohel (Jewish circumcisor) can perform this procedure for the Jews. It is probably for this reason, that the ministry of Health and Care Services opens up for the possibility that others than health professionals can perform the procedure. This option is even worse for the child. There are several examples that circumcision has gone wrong. Among other things, the penis healed inappropriately  and became bent, if too little skin is removed , the child has been phimose (too tight foreskin) or penis has been inflamed. The list of problematic effects when circumcision is not performed by health professionals is long.

Anesthesia no not necessarily administered for ritual circumcision. Because of the high number of nerve cells in the foreskin, it can be compared with the cutting off of the finger tip, a torture method being generally see used in mafia movies. Do we really wish other persons children this much pain?

Religious Freedom for whom?

Despite the fact that circumcision of boys is a painful procedure, which marks the child for life, it appears that the Ministry of Health and Care services do not deem these children’s right to religious freedom, self-determination over their own body or the right not to be subjected to unnecessary pain, to be equally important as the parents’ religious freedom.

Absurdity of this can be summed up in the pediatrician-Ola Didrik Saugstad statement: “this is about respecting the cultures where this is an obligation. If we want to have Muslims and Jews living among us, we cannot prohibit it “(vl.no 26.10). In some cultures, there is an obligation to circumcise girls, in others, to stone women who have been unfaithful. In some cultures, there is an obligation to put children with brain injuries and disabilities out in the wilderness. That something is an obligation in one culture, does not mean it automatically is worth preserving. Not all cultures are equally valuable.

One should rather turn it around. If Jews and Muslims want to live in Norway, they should respect the fact that in Norway, religious freedom is limited where it restricts the freedom of others.

This Mr. Stenvik has exposed himself as a bigot, and a poorly educated person, with not a clue at all about medicine or surgery in general, circumcision in particular. And with pretty unsavory ideas – this smelly brownish rant, it this representative of the values Verdidebatt.no (verdi = value).

True, we all have the right to think, write and say whatever we like. Now we know how twisted this persons mind is, and judging by the feedbacks, he has more than one friend who is happy to vouch for these kinds of attitudes.