Two separate pieces of good news have come to us this week from Sweden.

On September 24, Sweden’s Ombudsman for Children as well as representatives of four leading Swedish physicians’ organizations declared that no medical reason exists to circumcise boys, while the procedure causes a range of problems and violates human rights.

On September 28, Swedish legislators introduced a bill that would outlaw circumcision of males younger than 18 years of age for non-medical reasons.

Below are articles on both developments.

Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child


Ban on non-medical circumcision introduced in Sweden
September 28, 2013

A bill introduced in the Swedish parliament would ban the non-medical circumcision of males younger than 18. Two lawmakers from the rightist Sweden Democrats party, noting that female genital mutilation is illegal in Sweden, submitted the bill to the Riksdag on Tuesday.

Bjorn Soder and Per Ramhorn wrote in the measure that “boys should have the same right to avoid both complications of reduced sensitivity in the genitals, painful erections, increased risk of kidney damage and psychological distress by permanent removal, and the tremendous violation of privacy that circumcision actually means.”

The bill proposes to scrap legislation from 2001 that says circumcisionof newborns is permissible if it is performed by a “licensed professional.”

Jewish ritual circumcisers, or mohelim, in Sweden receive their licenses from the country’s health board, but a nurse or doctor must still be present when they perform the procedure.

The anti-immigration Sweden Democrats party was established in 1988 but only made it into parliament following unprecedented gains in the 2010 elections, when it garnered 5.7 percent of the votes, or 20 seats out of 349 in Sweden’s parliament. The opposition party is the sixth largest faction in the Riksdag.

Ritual circumcision of underage boys increasingly has come under attack in Scandinavia, both by left-wing secularists as well as right-wingers who fear the influence of immigration from Muslim countries.

The opposition followed a ruling last year by a German court in Cologne that ritual circumcision amounted to a criminal act. The ruling was overturned but triggered temporary bans in Austria and Switzerland.

Sweden has about 20,000 Jews and 500,000 Muslims, according to a U.S. State Department report from 2011.


‘Circumcision breaches human rights of the child’
September 24, 2013

There is no medical reason to circumcise little boys; the procedure is painful, irreversible and can cause complications, according to Sweden’s children’s ombudsman and representatives for several healthcare organizations.

“To circumcise a child without medical reasons and without the child’s consent, runs contrary… to the child’s human rights and the fundamental principles of medical ethics,” they write in a debate article in the Dagens Nyheter daily on Saturday.

The ombudsman Fredrik Malmberg, together with representatives from the Swedish Society of Medicine (SLS), the Swedish Society of Health Professionals (Vårdförbundet), the Swedish Paediatric Society (BLF) and the Swedish Association of Pediatric Surgeons (SLF), argues that Swedish law requires that the child’s will be taken into account wherever possible.

Circumcision is a procedure which is typically carried out at a very young age and it is this issue of consent which is paramount, they argue.

“We consider circumcision of boys without the child’s consent to be in contravention of article 12 of UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which gives children the right to have an opinion in matters which concern them.”

They furthermore argue for a change in Swedish legislation in order to meet the human rights of the child and medical ethics.

The issue has become topical in Sweden in recent weeks following the submission of a motion to parliament from the Sweden Democrats calling for an outright ban on the procedure.

Furthermore on Monday September 30th children’s ombudsmen from across Scandinavia will meet together with prominent medical professionals in Oslo to discuss the issue.

The Ombudsman for Children in Sweden is a government agency which represents the interests and rights on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).