Circumcision remains legal in Germany

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Germany’s parliament approved a bill to keep male circumcision legal, after a court ruling earlier this year put the practice into question. Discussions focussed on child welfare versus religious freedom.


German lawmakers have approved a bill to keep male infant circumcision legal. The new law, passed by 434 to 100 votes on Wednesday (12.12.2012), grants parents the right to authorize circumcision by a trained practitioner.

This follows months of debate. In May 2012, a Cologne court ruled that the circumcision of a young boy on religious grounds amounted to grievous bodily harm, and was therefore illegal. The decision prompted  many Jews and Muslims to question their acceptance and sense of feeling spiritually at home in Germany.

Months of debate on the cultural and religious tradition of infant male circumcision in Germany followed. Nowhere else in the entire world has this debate been held “with such acrimony, frostiness and at times brutal intolerance,” Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said at the time. 

The Cologne ruling led to a good deal of legal insecurity. In practice in the past, it had always been undisputed that parents could agree to a circumcision that is not strictly necessary from a medical point of view.

Written By: Kay-Alexander Scholz
continue to source article at dw.de

34 COMMENTS

  1.  The decision prompted  many Jews and Muslims to question their acceptance and sense of feeling spiritually at home in Germany.

     in other words, if you don’t allow me to accept grievous harm to the body of my child, i am going to question whether you accept me, and to doubt just how spiritually at home i feel in your country.

  2. Greyman, I share your disappointment, but I was pretty sure from the beginning that the ruling would not stand.

    The cry of ‘antisemitism’ is still a powerful club in Germany and no government was going to open itself up to that battering. The next step would have been for the affected parties to wave the bloody shirt and draw parallels with the holocaust.
    So Jews and Muslims can keep slashing the penises of their infants and everything goes on as before.

    I had an discussion about this with a friend who actually argued that “when the babies grow up, they never remember it.” I pointed out that this would also be true if you cut off one of their fingers, or mutilated them in any other fashion.

  3. If Germans, both Jewish and non-Jewish, are so keen for Jews to be physically marked for life, maybe a more humane solution could be implemented than cutting off bits of their genitals. 

    What about tattooing an identification mark on their forearms?

  4. Maybe I’m overoptimistic, but the fact that the matter has been discussed at all is a first step that will eventually lead to a ban of religiously motivated mutilation.
    Things can change quickly in the information age (see same-sex marriage).

  5. Why not bring back foot binding  and skull shaping in babies, too? Both long-standing traditions.
    Seriously though, it is good to see the practice subject to controls even if it won’t be banned, for now.

  6. This law is at odds with the secular majority in Germany. It was supported by major Catholic and Lutheran Church functionaries in a rare display of unity with their Jewish and Muslim equivalents. They all agreed that their right to cut pieces off children and to indoctrinate them was more important than the rights of the child.

  7. There’s more than religion here. Most American men seem to be “cut.”  It seems to be preferred over a turtleneck.  I wonder if that is the situation in Europe. Do women have a preference or just not care? Is there an aesthetic value?

  8. Most American men are ‘cut’ ( I would say ‘mutilated’) as infants and had no choice in the matter.
    Most muslim men prefer mutilated female genitalia. Should that even be a consideration?

  9. A necessary medical procedure must be based on completly different criteria than aesthetic or religious I suppose.
    (my husband had to be necessarly submitted to some “cut” or medical procedure, otherwise he couldn´t be able to have a normal sexual life before being an adult, and he has a minimum longitudional scar, not a barbaric peel off ).
    My father too, he would have the need to be submitted to a medical procedure, so I suppose medical procedures are sometimes necessary, but they don´t follow barbaric purposes, religious or aesthetic.

  10. ManhattanMC

    Most muslim men prefer mutilated female genitalia. Should that even be a consideration?

    I have serious doubts about this statement. Can you produce any proof of this? I can tell you that the North African Maghreb in general considers FGM to be an atrocity.  They didn’t generally know it even existed until lately when satellite dishes and internet brought the outside world into their living rooms. I will also bet that it’s not even men who are the driving force behind FGM. I think it’s the old ignorant women in those cultures who perpetuate this disgusting cruelty because they are afraid to be stuck with an “old maid” daughter or granddaughter if she isn’t sufficiently altered in this way. No one of them has the guts to break this ingrained pattern. 

    As for male circumcision, it is so widely practiced that one never hears about any option to it.  It’s just one more scheduled family celebration that no one even questions.  If I said to the family, “Let’s skip this whole circumcision thing and just have a family party with no actual cutting!” it would be like time stood still while these people wait for their brains to reboot.  

    Here in the States and in Europe we live with much diversity.  Strange new ideas are everywhere. There is debate over every single issue.  But the Islamic states are at serious disadvantage due to their lack of free speech and religious indoctrination.  They have plenty of intellectuals who are disgruntled but afraid to speak freely. 

    In all honesty, it’s not difficult to get these Muslim guys to concede that even male circumcision is a cruelty to children. Since it’s generally done at an age that they have memory of, after some weak defense of the practice on grounds of “the importance of family and cultural tradition” and some dire warning of filth and disease when not performed, they will always admit that the extreme pain and fear that they felt was not worth the traditional value. In short order they will concede that if it has to be done it should be as an infant and in a hospital where there are Drs. present who will do the procedure with proper sterile conditions. I’m not defending this as I want it to be illegal but it would be a great improvement over the home circumcisions done by local “specialists” hack jobs who don’t even know what bacteria is, and deny that there is such a thing when it is explained to them. 

    Another strong argument against all genital mutilation is that it is not specified in the Koran.  This is a very important point.  That means that it is NOT the word of Allah. It is NOT a requirement of every Muslim, therefore it is only the opinion of some imperfect, fallible humans and no one need participate. 

    I believe the Islamic countries will make some adaptation on the genital mutilation issue, but it will be very gradual. At least with this issue we have some good strong arguments to make against it.  Other problems are very mired in the Koran and I am much less hopeful for improvement.

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  11. “genital mutilation (is that it) is not specified in the Koran.  This is a very important point.  That means that it is NOT the word of Allah” 

    WELL… Allah ordered Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to follow the religion of Ibrahim (peace be upon him). When Allah says: “Then We inspired you: ‘Follow the religion of Ibrahim, the upright in Faith’.”(Qur’an 16:123)

    And part of the religion of Ibrahim (Abraham) is circumcision.

  12. If that’s the best quote you can find then I’m not even a bit worried.  That passage is praising Abraham for rejecting Paganism.  

    verse 120

    Abraham was indeed a model,

    Devoutly obedient to God

    (And) true in faith,and he

    Joined not gods with God:

    The rest of the page blathers on in a vague way consistent with the section above.  It’s one hell of a stretch to imagine that guys will read this and go running off in search of a penis hacker to chop a piece of their penis off just because the old ancient Jewish Patriarch, good old Abraham did so.

    Here’s the thing.  You know as well as I do that if something is not spelled out clearly in that book then it’s man-made, not the word of Allah. If there is no line in that book clearly stating that Muslim men need to chop of that piece of flesh off, then I’m holding my ground in this argument with them.

  13. They had a chance to not be sex criminals. Instead they chose to allow sexual mutilation of children. Anyone who does this belongs in prison. There is no argument but medical necessity to avoid a worse situation and only by a trained medical practitioner in an appropriate surgical environment. 

  14. There is something decidely perverse and mentally aberrant about people who cannot re-examine their thinking about the continuation of practices which appeared among bronze age attempts at philosophy and serve only the perpetuation of a tyranny imposed by dead imbeciles and their preoccupations with ‘improving’ genitals, unique access to one vagina and the ‘periodic filthiness’ of menstruation.  People who claim to think questions about the origin of the universe and existence are the game in town have no time to waste on such fucking rubbish.
     
    Just think if we did not have the unholiness of sexual reproduction the abrahamic religihooligans would have had to turn their attention to making up rules and ‘hard to fake acts of commitment’ about something like defecation and haemhorroids, or nose blowing and rhinoplasty or such like.

  15. Some interesting stats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P

    Circumcision is described as “relatively rare” in Europe in the above article. Having grown up in U.K., I cannot recall ever seeing a circumcised penis, say at school, in sports changing rooms, etc., but on moving to Australia, discovered that it was fairly common. But then, Australia is very USA persuaded in many areas of society. Some countrie have 0% neo-natal male circumcision.

    I haven’t heard a comment from the women that I’ve known in my life about my un-cut penis, but have seen comments from American women online such as “eew!” to uncut penises. Perhaps the women of America drive the high male circumcision rate in USA?

    I’m very surprised at the number of circumcisions among Christian Americans, when St. Paul considered that circumcised males may, indeed, not have the grace of God, due to their circumcision. Galations 5 (NIV) .

  16. I agree with your opinion about people who won’t re-examine bronze age ideas and practices in favour of more humane and compassionate, if not simply, sensible ones.  It boggles the mind, rational mind, that whole societies base their views, and laws, on ideas of people for whom the height of technological achievement was the wheelbarrow.

  17. Ah! But that’s precisely what the Muslims do – they not only trust the prophet completely but are supposed to allow and disallow only what he allowed and disallowed.  They base their opinions, whole lives and jurisprudence on the actions and sayings of a 7th century pedophile, and are prepared to kill you if you disagree or offend him.  If you offend Islam or Allah you might only go to jail, but if you offend Muhammad, even if you apologise and show contrition, you will die. And to think that they want us in the West to adopt this mentality!

  18. Hi ManhattanMC,

    Misinformation and ignorance is skill set better suited for the religious nut jobs, and should not be employed by anyone who claims understanding and reason.

    Mutilating female genitalia is not a “religious act”,  Muslim or otherwise.  It was a custom that was practised in a certain region, that got rolled into certain areas when Islam came into them.   A little bit like Christianity taken over pagan celebration and calling it Christmas.

    The reason it is called mutilating, is because they actually hack off nerve endings from a female reproductive parts, on the hope to stop them wanting to have sex, and therefore control reproduction, which was important in the nomadic tribes communities.

    Male circumcision is not on par with female circumcision, as they don’t hack off any nerve endings, and they just remove the excess skin around the tip of the male penis. (some think it looks better, and many claims it smells better, but that’s personal opinion.)

    So, let us stop calling it mutilation…..

    It is as mutilating as piercing your ears, or tattooing your body….

    The only part I agree with is, babies should have a saying into what happens to their body, but then do we also stop earrings until they come off age??

    I am a circumcised male, and I don’t know what it feels like being otherwise, but i can tell you the quality of my life did not suffer because i had bits of me hacked off when i was little.

  19. at voiceofarabi

    Do you realy believe that there are no Nerve endings in in the foreskin?
    I can tell you, that there are a lot of Nerves in the foreskin, also in the glans penis, which has to grow thicker skin and therfore looses feeling. The raely sad thing is, you`ll never know what you lost…

    There are many ways of mutilating genitals, one of wich is Cutting off the female clitoral hood. This is more or less comparable to the removal of the male foreskin. Do you believe, that this should be allowed?

    Also, do you know The Hadith of the circumciser?If yes, then why are you pro male cutting but conra female cutting?

  20. Hi GerhardW,

    I am not pro or against either, i was just trying to get the facts right, since i belong to the region, and felt others could benefit from the knowledge.

    And no doubt you are correct…. there are nerve endings in all your body, and all you need to see is a baby crying when they have their ears pierced, or receive an injection.

    The point i was making is, hacking off a bit of skin of your penis, does not compare to hacking a female clitoris.

    I was not arguing if it is correct or not….  I leave that to Doctors and people in the know (who think it reduces contracting some STD’s)

    I merely suggested that we should be consistent, and if you don’t want to “mutilate” babies…. then you should also stop earrings and piercings.

    Also, there is few tribes in Africa that cuts kids faces and bodies as marks for their tribe should they stop??

    And few tribes in Iraq, tattoo their kids faces… should that stop too…

    Just saying…

    Last… The word Hadith translate to “discussion”, and like any other discussion you have to take it with a pinch of salt!!

  21. I had just picked up some of the words  of some Makonde youngsters, from a monography  (kindly shared on the internet on March 2012),  data that comes from Makonde´s initiatory rituals-indirectly, because it is closed to outsiders and no direct observation would be allowed- and interview of some individuals was the indirect technic used to do the work, with the help and trust of some Makonde´s member.

    To the open questions, where a free answer is possible,

    -What´s the meaning you give to the initiatory rituals you have passed through ?
    -Do you always do things the way it was taught to you, why ?

     To the first question, the average thinks it to be very important to their own socialization. When it comes to answer to the second question:

    - I find it difficult to do everything as it was told to me, there are a lot of demands (18 years old boy)

    - I don´t do things always as it was taught to me, there are things I can eliminate, each one makes things the way  him/her knows better. (20 years old young woman)

    - There are things that are supposed to be right from a cultural point of view, but not to me.(19 years old young man)

    My view, contrary to that of some people that think individuality as “modern”, is that they should have a better reflection on it.

    I suppose there are people who love “initiatory rituals” to feel integrated in a group, and others that don´t ( I bet).

    When I went for the first time to university, I didn´t adhere to all “iniciatic rituals”, while some students almost begged to be “iniciated”.

    The first time I heard  my Professor of History he remarked that  most students of History don´t appreciate it.

    My daughter told me that in her University people are now asked if they want to participate and they can refuse, I guess things are changing, although there must be languages that don´t have a reflexive word to indicate  “the self”, I don´t find it realistic that it doesn´t exist.

    As I was born in Mozambique, I had a cousin that used to tell us about Makonde´s culture _while I was a child- and I am glad I wasn´t born one of them.

  22. “…The point i was making is, hacking off a bit of skin of your penis, does not compare to hacking a female clitoris.”

    Some forms of female genital mutilation are virtually the same as the male genital mutilation commonly referred to as ‘circumcision’.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/am

    “I was not arguing if it is correct or not….  I leave that to
    Doctors and people in the know (who think it reduces contracting some
    STD’s)….”

    No. The only studies which claim a reduction in HIV transmission are deeply flawed and were never completed.

    http://scienceblogs.com/pharyn

    “I am not impressed. They cite a couple of incomplete
    epidemiological studies in African populations for HIV infection, and
    they come up with some astounding figures: a 50-60% reduction in
    infection rates. Wow, with that kind of advantage…sign me up.

    However, these are deeply flawed studies. None of them were
    completed: they all abandoned the protocol and stopped the research as
    soon as preliminary results gave them positive values. This is like
    shooting craps and announcing that all your dice throws were
    practice…until you get a good roll, and then, yeah, that was the real
    deal. That one counts.

    They all overstate their results. That 50-60% reduction was in relative rate, in comparison across the two groups. The actual calculated protection in absolute terms conferred by circumcision was a 2%
    reduction in the likelihood of infection. That doesn’t dazzle me,
    either, and given that the studies were terminated when they got their
    best results, I’m not persuaded.

    And finally, give me a plausible mechanism for how
    circumcision would achieve these remarkable gains. Tell me how it is
    supposed to work. If it’s something to do with hygiene, it seems to me
    that better sex and health education should have the same or better
    effect than lopping off bits of skin.”  P Z Myers

    And that ‘skin’ includes some 20,000 of the most sensitive nerve endings in the male body.

    http://www.nocirc.org/touch-te

    “…The glans of the circumcised penis is less
    sensitive to fine touch than the glans of the
    uncircumcised penis. The transitional region
    from the external to the internal prepuce
    is the most sensitive region of the
    uncircumcised penis and more sensitive than
    the most sensitive region of the circumcised
    penis. Circumcision ablates the most sensitive
    parts of the penis.”

    Fine-touch pressure thresholds in the adult penis
    Morris L. Sorrells, James L. Snyder, Mark D. Reiss, Christopher Eden*, Marilyn F. Milos†,
    Norma Wilcox and Robert S. Van Howe‡

  23. Hi voice,

    I didn’t call FGM a religious act. I merely opined that most muslim men prefer women who have been mutilated.

    You are absolutely wrong about male genital mutilation. 20,000 nerve endings are left as stumps and the glans becomes keratinized and loses sensitivity as per most studies on the subject.

    http://www.noharmm.org/IDcirc….

    Any man with an odor isn’t practicing proper hygiene-sorry. Circumcision makes no difference.

    No.  I will not stop calling male circumcision mutilation. I’ve read extensively in the medical literature on the subject and I’m convinced beyond doubt that it is exactly that. Are you aware that a large percentage of infants go into shock when the procedure is performed?

    Yes, it is as mutilating as breast implants as well and the key concept here is ‘consent’.
    Infants can’t give it. And yes, I think piercing an infants ears is immoral.

    You aren’t in a position to know what you’ve lost-sorry. you wouldn’t remember an amputation performed in infancy either and would never really know what it was like to be whole.

  24. LaurieB,

    You argue against yourself in a single paragraph.
    Of course this travesty is perpetuated by women and of course it is done to please male suitors.

    If you actually think FGM is non-extant in the Maghreb I’m afraid you are mistaken.

    Algeria

    Raya, Patricia Diane. “Female Genital Mutilation and the Perpetuation of Multigenerational Trauma”, The Journal of Psychohistory, Spring 2010.

     Libya

    “Female Genital Mutilation”, UK Border Agency, 20 June 2008.

    Mauritania

    “(71% prevalence, Type I and II)Female genital mutilation is prevalent in Mauritania”

    “FGC Prevalence Rates Diagram”, African Women’s Health Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, accessed 7 September 2011. “…Current status: The Ministry of Health has estimated the
    prevalence of excision and circumcision at between 20% and 25%. A
    Government report shows that 92% of women in the Soninke ethnic group
    and 95.5% of the Halpulaar ethnic group have undergone genital
    mutilation. Rates of FGM among other ethnic groups are between 27% and
    72%, the study by the National Statistics Office found. “

    Regardless, the Maghreb is a small percentage of the billion plus muslims on the planet.

    “As for male circumcision, it is so widely practiced that one never hears
    about any option to it.  It’s just one more scheduled family
    celebration that no one even questions. ” LaurieB

    Your ignorance of a raging debate is not an argument.
    Male circumcision is a ‘cure’ in  search of a disease.

    http://www.cirp.org/library/hi

    But it was implemented to debilitate sexual feeling.

    {‘Similarly with regard to circumcision, one of the
    reasons for it is, in my opinion, the wish to bring about a
    decrease in sexual intercourse and a weakening of the organ
    in question, so that this activity be diminished and the
    organ be in as quiet a state as possible. It has been thought
    that circumcision perfects what is defective congenitally.
    This gave the possibility to everyone to raise an objection
    and to say: How can natural things be defective so that they
    need to be perfected from outside, all the more because we
    know how useful the foreskin is for that member? In fact this
    commandment has not been prescribed with a view to
    perfecting what is defective congenitally, but to perfecting
    what is defective morally. The bodily pain caused to that
    member is the real purpose of circumcision. None of the
    activities necessary for the preservation of the individual
    is harmed thereby, nor is procreation rendered impossible,
    but violent concupiscence and lust that goes beyond what is
    needed are diminished. The fact that circumcision weakens the
    faculty of sexual excitement and sometimes perhaps diminishes
    the pleasure is indubitable. For if at birth this member has
    been made to bleed and has had its covering taken away from
    it, it must indubitably be weakened.”}

    Moses Miamonides

    I share your optimism about the gradual withering of FGM and hope that with some study you will see that male genital mutilation needs to be ended as well.

  25.  LaurieB,

    here is a better history of male circumcision as a ‘cure’ in search of a disease.

    http://circinfosite.com/2.html

    “History of Male CircumcisionTimeline of Medical Circumcision”Circumcision is a solution in search of a problem.” –Edward WallersteinThis
    timeline provides an overview of how doctor’s reasons for doing
    circumcisions on children and babies have changed drastically since the
    time when they first began promoting it.”

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