Religious circumcision needs child consent, charity says

Jewish and Muslim parents should wait until sons are old enough to agree to ritual circumcision, Norm-UK to tell conference. Parents should not circumcise a son on the grounds of faith without the child’s consent, a conference will hear today. Norm-UK, a charity opposed to male circumcision, said the practice was harmful and subjected children to surgery that was non-consensual, irreversible and unnecessary. It meets today at a Keele University conference addressing the issues of male and female circumcision, in addition to examining the physical and psychological impact of these practices. Laura MacDonald, a trustee of Norm-UK, said: “We are not calling for a ban on Jewish or Muslim parents circumcising their sons, but we’re asking them to reconsider and wait until the child is old enough to give his consent. “If it is a religious requirement then it has more value if carried out when someone has chosen to do it. It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to be given a tattoo even if they want it. There’s an anomaly here.” In Judaism, the Brit Mila – ritual circumcision – is one of the cornerstones of the faith and is held on the eighth day after the child is born. Circumcision is seen as a religious obligation, not a medical operation, and is carried out by a mohel, someone who has been trained in the procedure and understands the significance of the rite. The Initiation Society, formed in 1745, trains men to perform this ritual and more than 2,000 circumcisions are done every year. Riazat Butt reports.

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