Bodily integrity and autonomy in Israel, Norway and Denmark
Israel’s top court has overturned a decision by a court of rabbis which had ordered a mother to have her son circumcised against her will, as she had previously agreed to the procedure with her former husband prior to their divorce. Rabbinical courts are part of Israel’s justice system and maintain jurisdiction over religious matters, primarily in cases of marriage and divorce of Jewish citizens. But the High Court of Justice said that in ordering the circumcision of the boy, the High Rabbinical Court had overstepped its jurisdiction, as the issue of circumcision is not tied to divorce proceedings.
According to the mother’s lawyer there is no legal obligation in Israel to circumcise infants. But under Jewish religious tradition, boys are circumcised on the eighth day after birth. However, the mother in this case said that „the objection to circumcise my son came after I was exposed to all the information on the issue, and studied and investigated it. I realised that it was healthier not to circumcise.” Prior to the ruling, the Supreme Court had requested the opinion of Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who also said that the rabbinical court had exceeded its authority and that „it is doubtful whether the court’s decision was based on the principle of the child’s welfare.“
Norway has approved a law allowing for infant boys to be circumcised for religious reasons, despite opposition from the country’s nursing union. While authorising the practice, the new law also places limitations, namely that it be performed under the supervision of a licensed physician, yet it may be physically carried out by other persons. An earlier version of the bill stipulated that circumcision be performed only by a licensed medical professional and in clinical facilities.
Back in March, the Norwegian Nurses Organisation called on the government to ban non-medical circumcision performed on children at age when they are unable to consent to the procedure. Similarly in April, Norway’s Ombudswoman for Children Anne Lindboe reiterated the Nordic ombudspersons’ view: „that circumcision of boys should not be done until the boy is old enough to decide himself if it is something he wants to do.”
Meanwhile in Denmark in April, where opposition to the practice also exists on the basis of children’s rights and medical ethics, the National Board of Health published new guidelines stating that non-medical circumcision of boys is permissible, despite calls to ban the practice by the Danish College of General Practitioners. In June, the Danish Association of Medical Students (FADL) issued a position statement opposing ritual male circumcision on ethical, legal, and human rights grounds.
Quelle: Newsletter des Child Rights International Network Nr. 1384 vom 2.7.2014
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