German court rules circumcision is 'bodily harm'
A court in Germany has ruled that circumcising young boys for religious reasons amounts to bodily harm.
In a decision that has caused outrage among Jewish and Muslim groups, the court said that a child's right to physical integrity trumps religious and parental rights.
The case involved a doctor who carried out a circumcision on a four year-old that led to medical complications.
Thousands of Muslim and Jewish boys are circumcised in Germany every year.
Although male circumcision - unlike female circumcision - is not illegal in Germany, the court's judgement said the "fundamental right of the child to bodily integrity outweighed the fundamental rights of the parents".
Circumcision, it decided, contravenes "interests of the child to decide later in life on his religious beliefs".
'Protect religious freedom'
The doctor involved in the case was acquitted and the ruling is not binding, but correspondents say it sets a precedent that would be taken into account by other German courts.
The president of Germany's Central Council of Jews, Dieter Graumann, called it "an unprecedented and dramatic intervention in the right of religious communities to self-determination".
He urged the country's parliament to clarify the legal situation "to protect religious freedom against attacks".
Male circumcision is part of the ancient religious rituals of both the Jewish and Muslim faiths, as well as the traditions of some tribal groups.
In some countries, such as the United States, it is also not uncommon for parents to request that young boys are circumcised for health reasons.
The BBC's Stephen Evans in Germany says it is unclear what the next legal step will be, but this issue is a moral and political minefield.
The ruling followed a lengthy legal battle, sparked when a Muslim couple decided to have their son circumcised, specifically for religious reasons, by a Muslim doctor in Cologne. The doctor, identified only as Dr K, carried out the circumcision on the four-year old boy in November 2010, before giving the wound four stitches. The same evening, he visited the family at home to check up on the boy. When the boy began bleeding again two days later, his parents took him to the casualty department of Cologne's University hospital. The hospital contacted the police, who then launched an investigation. The doctor was charged with bodily harm, and the case was taken to court.
While the court acquitted Dr. K on the grounds that he had not broken any law, it concluded that circumcision of minors for religious reasons should be outlawed, and that neither parental consent nor religious freedom justified the procedure. It ruled that in future doctors who carried out circumcisions should be punished.
The court weighed up three articles from the basic law: the rights of parents, the freedom of religious practice and the right of the child to physical integrity, before coming to the conclusion that the procedure was not in the interests of the child.
It rejected the defence that circumcision is considered hygienic in many cultures, one of the main reasons it is carried out in the US, Britain and in Germany.
After much deliberation, it concluded that a circumcision, "even when done properly by a doctor with the permission of the parents, should be considered as bodily harm if it is carried out on a boy unable to give his own consent".
Some Clarifications & Additions: The Doctor made no medical mistake and was not hold liable in this Case / at 14 every Child is allowed to officially change its Religion which the court views as the Time where it is able to make a Decision regarding cutting off a part of his Junk / Before this Decision the Medical Society could claim there is no legal decision against it (Ex Culpa ~Verbotsirrtum) which it now can't / The Court Decision claims the Hygienic Value of the Procedure is marginal in Northwest Europe
Due to the legal Dispute the '─rzte Zeitung' is advising against circumsisions which are not medically needed as Doctors may be liable to civil and criminal charges.
They also published an Article regarding the grey Area of Circumsisions a few months ago which caught some Heat from a Muslim Society. http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleto...-11801160.html (german)
There are two more Instances of Courts above this (Bundesgerichtshof and Bundesverfassungsgericht) which likely wont be called.
TLDR: (Irreversible) Bodily Harm versus Religious Freedom Which is the better Argument?