[Legal aspects of ritual circumcision].

Klin Padiatr. 2009 Dec;221(7):409-14. doi: 10.1055/s-0029-1233494.

[Legal aspects of ritual circumcision]. [Article in German]

Schreiber M, Schott GE, Rascher W, Bender AW.

Abteilung für Kinderurologie, Urologische Klinik, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen. ms.schreiber@yahoo.de


Female circumcision (genital mutilation) is a criminal violation of human rights under German law. Even with consent of the person to be circumcised and/or her legal representative this procedure must not be carried out since a consent to female circumcision is unethical and therefore void. As much consent as there is on female circumcision the legal situation with ritual male circumcision is very unclear. In practice and unnoticed by the public male circumcision is carried out – be it for medical or ritual reasons – without deeper-going reflexions on the clearness of the medical indication or the legal situation with ritual circumcision. From the medical aspect there are big differences between female and male circumcision but also certain parallels. Various reasons, partly founded in prejudice and misinformation, make people refrain from regarding circumcision of boys also as illegal. Contrary to the prevailing opinion male circumcision also represents a bodily harm which a doctor can only carry out after a preoperative interview and with the consent of the affected person. Since ritual male circumcision does not serve the wellbeing of a child it is not possible for the parents to give their consent to the circumcision in lieu of the child. Male circumcision is only permitted if the child has given his consent and is thus only legally permitted if the child has reached an age at which he is mature enough to understand the meaning and extent of such an action which is hardly the case before he has completed his 16 (th) year.

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