Circumcision ban in Germany faces criticism

A state court decision in Cologne criminalising circumcision has sparked protest among Muslims and Jews for whom it is a religious duty. However, the state court in Cologne described circumcision as bodily injury, and therefore a violation of German law. At the heart of the debate is the child’s capacity to give informed consent to the procedure.

Holm Putzke, of Passau University, addressed circumcision in an academic journal in 2008. Putzke is not convinced by arguments that circumcision is "for the good of the child" because it symbolically gives the child access to a religious community. He suggests delaying circumcision until the man is old enough to decide for himself. Putzke describes the recent verdict as a "groundbreaking and courageous judgment".

Bijan Fateh-Moghadam, of Münster University, argues that childhood circumcision is a "relatively simple procedure with few risks and recognized medical advantages." He says, therefore, that parental permission does not, in this case, constitute an abuse of custody rights. Fateh-Moghadam says the Cologne verdict will not prevent Jewish and Muslim parents in Germany from circumcising their sons, though he thinks many will travel abroad or have the operation done in private. "I think the verdict could have a paradoxical effect - the level of protection for children will fall rather than rise," he warns. ~ Deutsche Welle, Jun 28

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