Supreme Court: Properly performed religious based male circumcision no crime
Muslim mother of four-year-old boy acquitted
The circumcision of a child performed for religious reasons is not a crime if it is performed properly, says a ruling given out by the Finnish Supreme Court on Friday.
In the case, a Muslim woman was charged with assault, or incitement to assault, after having had a doctor perform a circumcision on her four-year-old son for religious and cultural reasons. The procedure was performed under local anaesthetic.
The doctor gave a follow-up examination the next day, and the ruling said that the procedure did not cause the boy any harm.
The court ruled that a child’s guardian has the right to make decisions on irreversible procedures such as male circumcisions, as long as the procedure promotes the child’s well being and development. The procedure must not be against the interests of the child.
According to the court, religious-based circumcisions can have positive significance for the development of a Muslim boy and his identity with respect to his religious and social community. The court noted that circumcision is an old and established tradition, and a solid part of a man’s identity.
The Turku Court of Appeals had also ruled that the mother had not committed a crime. Tampere District Court had argued that the act was unlawful, but did not impose a sentence, because the law was vague and the mother did not know that it was not permitted.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Prosecutor General defers move on Kuopio botched circumcision case (9.4.2003)
Some hospitals sharply oppose religiously mandated circumcisions (25.3.2003)
Finnish hospitals urged to perform circumcisions (24.3.2003)
Court rules circumcision of four-year-old boy illegal (7.8.2008)