Female and male circumcision is considered by progressive thinkers as a vestige of primitive and archaic customs and one that should be done away with.
While female circumcision is an entirely different matter, male circumcision is a much lesser version of the same procedure, and if done surgically in a medical office or structure, one that comports minimal discomfort and consequence.
In Norway, where a minority of Muslims and Jews circumcise their boys, the government is proposing legislation that would allow boys to obtain the procedure and after care from hospital structures and be legal in all effects.
The proposal is important, even though only a handful of boys in that country undergo the procedure. And that is because for both religions, circumcision is a matter of faith and identity.
Many studies have also extolled the benefits of male circumcision as beneficial to both man and women. In fact, studies have shown that Jewish women have a lower incidence of cervical and uterine cancer, a factor in large part attributed to male circumcision.
Why then are the Norse so adamant about not legalizing the procedure? To many Norse, and Germans too, circumcision is seen as a barbaric habit, one that should be discontinued. But to the Jewish faithful, circumcision is symbolic of the faith to such an extent that it cannot be discarded.
The Norse should know that to Jews and Muslim the procedure is essential, just like the sacraments to Christian believers, and that for this reason alone it should be carried out in a safe and hygienic setting.
Yet the furore rages on. The Norse would rather see Jews and Muslim carry out circumcision in synagogues and other non medical setting than to see it legalized. And that's because to the Scandinavian citizens, the procedure is akin to violence and child abuse, so that legalization translates into abetting the perceived abuse.
But carrying out the procedure in non medical structures has resulted in some children having post-procedural complications that required medical attention and hospitalization. One Muslim child died after a botched operation in Oslo. Others have been maimed or experienced post-procedural pain and side effects.
To the Norse, however, civilized behavior and progressive thinking trumps religion. To them, the children should be protected from circumcision, not helped to undergo the procedure.
But to Jews, for example, circumcision is a pillar of religious observance, one that symbolizes and renews the pact between Abraham and God, and it is do be done specifically on every male child by the age of 8. If circumcision was banned, they insist, the Jewish faith would cease to exist.
What the Norse want to do in the alternative of banning it altogether, is to allow the child to choose for himself. That would mean that the procedure would have to be postponed until the child is close to being a major, something that would negate the religious tradition, at least in the Jewish faith. The minimum age, the Norse medical community insists, should be 16. The Medical association in Norway has also made clear that it opposes male circumcision on the whole.
As in most of Europe, a backlash is washing over what once were tolerant and progressive communities. The fracture between legislators and the medical community reflect fully the same divisions that are showing up in the population. There is a strong resistance to adapting what are old constitutionals status quo into new and revamped bodies of law to accommodate religious needs.
In most Scandinavian countries however, the identity of the child and the rights of the minor are to be protected at all costs, religion notwithstanding. There is a sense however, that this has to do more with the discontent building up in the population at the needs of religious observers than the issue of circumcision itself. To many in Europe, the effort to accommodate religious beliefs to the extent that new legislation is needed is seen as a regression to previous times and eras, to medieval taboos and rituals that, in their mind, have no place in modern times.
Source: DW-DE: 4.30.14