Male circumcision in the spotlight in Denmark

VALDRIN XHEMAJ DATE CORRECT IN CAPTION

A Kosovar-Bosnian boy looks on during the circumcision festival in the village of Donje Ljubinje, Kosovo, 25 July 2007. Donje Ljubinje is situated in the Shar mountains that form the border between Kosovo and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Its inhabitants are ethnic Bosniaks. Every five years the people of the village organize a Sunet (circumcision) three-day Festival. All the members of the village gather including many who live abroad from as far as Switzerland and Germany.

Professional ethics clash with legal prerogatives


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Both doctors and the state are taking steps to regulate the ritual practice of male circumcision in Denmark.

Professionally unethical

The Danish Medical Association moved last Friday to label circumcision “unethical” for boys under the age of 18, The Local daily reports. The ruling of the medical association echoes a poll in July 2016 that says that 87% of Danes want to make circumcision illegal until boys reach adulthood.

According to the ethical board of the medical association, circumcision should be “an informed, personal choice” about a man’s body and cultural identity. It is also pointed out that circumcision is an operation with risks and, therefore, it should be an individual choice.

Fearing bullying and unauthorized procedures, the professional body did not call for a blanket ban on the operation. Female circumcision (FGM) is illegal.

Presence of doctors legally required

The Danish Ministry of Health followed through on Monday with a regulation obliging doctors to report circumcision to authorities, the Danish posten daily reports. That is in addition to the legal requirement that a doctor is present. That means there will be a database for all male Jews and Muslims in Denmark.

The regulation applies irrespectively of whether the operation is performed at home or in hospitals and goes into effect in January 2017.

Since 2015, Denmark is a signatory to a United Nations convention that proclaims that the parental choice of circumcising male children is a human right. It is estimated that 1,000-to-2,000 circumcision take place each year in Denmark by the Jewish and the Muslim communities. Most of these procedures take place at home or private clinics.

Catch 22?

In sum, doctors will have to be present in operations their professional association regards unethical; they will also need to report their presence. Finally, there will be a database that de facto records religious minorities. And doctors are caught in a “catch 22” situation:   If they report the operation they confront their professional board; if they don’t, they must pay a fine.

 

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