Latest news

Norway may ban non-medical circumcision of boys


Norway’s Health Ministry is considering a proposal on regulating the circumcision of boys. Some political parties are calling on a complete ban of the practice on minors, a possibility that would affect Jewish and Muslim communities.

Two years ago, the ministry was tasked with reviewing circumcision and how it should be practiced in Norway. It is yet to finalize its stance, but intends to submit its legislative proposal before Easter next year, Health Minister Bent Hoie told Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper.

The issue was brought to public attention after the resent call by Norway Children’s Ombudswoman Anne Lindboe to ban circumcision of boys before age 16, unless the procedure is warranted by medical needs.

“This is not due to any lack of understanding of minorities or religious traditions, but because the procedure is irreversible, painful and risky,” she argued.

Lindboe’s position is shared by some members of the Labor Party, which currently holds the largest share of 55 seats in Norway’s 169-strong legislative and is in opposition to the ruling Conservative-Progress coalition.

“As a modern society, we should work to eliminate practices that expose children and people to unnecessary suffering,” said Labor’s Ruth Mari Grung, who is a member of the parliamentary Committee on Health and Care Services.

A ban is also supported by the Center Party, which has 10 seats in the parliament.

Other parliamentary parties are yet to formulate their official position on the issue. Hoie, a Conservative member, who used to chair the Health Committee before getting his ministerial appointment, voiced concerns that a ban would force the groups practicing ritual circumcision underground, where the procedure would be performed by non-medics and pose greater health risks to the children.

The Norwegian lawmakers also disagree on whether circumcision should be covered by the budget under the national healthcare system. Some parties insist that ritual circumcision should be paid for by parents.

According to the newspaper, an average of about 2,000 Muslim and seven Jewish newborns are circumcised in Norway each year.

Regulation of ritual circumcision in Europe made the headlines in June, when a German court ruled that the procedure constitutes a minor bodily harm and outlawed performing it on minors. The decision sparked nationwide debate on the conflict between religious freedoms and protection of children.

The issue was further stressed in early October, when the Council of Europe branded the practice “a violation of the physical integrity of children” and called on EU members to protect children. The latter should include a ban on performing circumcision on those who cannot consent to it, the non-binding resolution said.

Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Greenland are among the European countries where public debate on ritual circumcision of boys is hotly debated.


GENITAL AUTONOMY 2014 in Colorado, USA – “Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change”


The National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (USA),
Intact America, Genital Autonomy (UK and Australia), and the Sexpo Foundation (Finland)present


“Whole Bodies, Whole Selves: Activating Social Change”
The 13th International Symposium on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado, USA
July 24-26, 2014

The International Symposia on Genital Autonomy and Children’s Rights promote interdisciplinary dialogue about genital cutting practices of male, female, and intersex children, and on strategies for protecting children from medically unnecessary genital alteration. The Symposia offer an informational and practical platform for effecting social change and are designed to be of interest to legal, medical, and mental health professionals; scholars, educators, and students; policy makers and the media; activists and the general public. Read more on the Genital Autonomy 2014 website.


Nordic ombudspersons will seek a ban on non-therapeutic male circumcision


30.9. 2013 – At a meeting in Oslo, the children’s ombudspersons from the five Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland), and the children’s spokesperson from Greenland, in addition to representatives of associations of Nordic paediatricians and pediatric surgeons, have agreed to work with their respective national governments to achieve a ban on non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys. Resolution:


Circumcision without a medical indication on a person unable to provide informed consent conflicts with basic principles of medical ethics, particularly because the operation is irreversible, painful and may cause serious complications. There are no health-related reasons to circumcise young boys in the Nordic countries. Arguments that may argue in favour of circumcision in adult men are of little relevance to children in the Nordic area. Boys can make up their own minds about the operation when they get old enough to provide informed consent.

As ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health we consider circumcision of underage boys without a medical indication to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 12, about children’s right to express their views about their own matters, and article 24, pt. 3, which says that children must be protected against traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health.

In 2013, the UN Human Rights Council has urged all states to end operations that compromise the integrity and dignity of children and are prejudicial to the health of both girls and boys. We consider it central that parental rights in this matter do not have precedence over children’s right to bodily integrity. What is in children’s best interest must always come first, even if this may limit an adult’s right to carry out their religious or traditional rituals.

The Nordic ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health therefore want to work towards a situation, where a circumcision can only be performed, if a boy, who has reached the age and level of maturity required to understand necessary medical information, consents to the operation. We wish a respectful dialogue among all parties involved about how to best ensure boys’ self determination with respect to circumcision. We also urge our governments to inform about children’s rights and health-related risks and consequences of the operation. We ask the Nordic governments to take the necessary steps towards ensuring that boys get the right to decide for themselves whether or not they want to be circumcised.

Oslo, 30th of September 2013

— Signed by
Anne Lindboe, Norwegian ombudswoman for children
Fredrik Malmberg, Swedish ombudsman for children
Maria Kaisa Aula, Finnish ombudswoman for children
Per Larsen, Chairman of the Danish Children’s Council
Margrét Maria Sigurdardóttir, Icelandic ombudswoman for children
Anja Chemnitz Larsen, Greenlandic Children’s spokesperson

as well as by representatives of Nordic associations of pediatricians and pediatric surgeons.


Source: Child Rights International Network (