We are pleased to announce that an important new legal decision has been handed down in the UK upholding children’s rights. While the judgment is not perfect, the judge’s primary reasoning protects the child’s best interests and his right to personal autonomy.

This landmark event can be attributed in large part to the tireless efforts of our close colleague and friend James Chegwidden, who co-represented the plaintiff mother in this case. The case involved a threatened circumcision of two boys that was sought by the father to be performed by a medical professional, but for purely religious reasons. The court refused to permit the procedure to be performed, finding that circumcision carries real risks. The court also found that nothing in Islam requires male circumcision before an age when the boys could make the decision for themselves (15-16 years old) and that to the contrary, intact boys can fully participate in their father’s Muslim community and culture and would not suffer exclusion. The case can be accessed at http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Fam/2016/849.html.

Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child


Muslim man loses high court bid to have sons circumcised

Father went to court after mother of the boys, aged four and six, objected to the procedure at a young age

A devout Muslim has failed to persuade a high court judge to rule that his sons should be circumcised.

The man, who was born in Algeria but lives in England, argued that circumcision would be in accordance with his “Muslim practice and religious beliefs” – and in the youngsters’ best interests. But the boys’ mother, who grew up in Devon and is separated from their father, disagreed.

Mrs Justice Roberts refused to make a circumcision order after analysing arguments made at a family court hearing in Exeter, Devon. She said it was better to defer a decision until the boys, aged six and four, reached a stage where they could make “individual choices”.

The details of the case emerged on Monday in a ruling by Roberts. The judge said no one involved could be identified, but she said the man and woman were both in their mid-30s.

She said the man had been living in England for 15 years. He had argued that it would be “in the children’s best interests to allow them to be circumcised” in accordance with his “Muslim practice and religious beliefs”, Roberts said in her ruling.

The man’s former partner “opposes that course until such time as the children have reached an age where they are competent to give consent to such a procedure”, the judge added.