MPs in Iceland are trying to pass a law barring the circumcision of young boys and seeking a six-year-imprisonment term for those who defy the ban, local media has reported.
Circumcision is the removal of the foreskin. It is practiced for cultural and religious reasons by Muslim and Jewish communities.
In Judaism, circumcision is mentioned in the Torah. It is performed on newborn babies and it is regarded as a sign of covenant between people and God.
In Islam, the practice is described in one of the Sunan, the Prophet Muhammad’s teachings. It is performed for cleanliness reasons and as a preventive measures against disease.
However, MPs, including those from the Progressive Part, the Left Greens and the People’s Party, are seeking to ban the practice, except for health reasons, arguing it is a violation of human rights and that children are too young to make an informed decision.
“The United Nations Human Rights Council has also urged all states to ban actions that endanger human dignity of children and do not comply with the rights of children,” reads the bill, which calls for an amendment of the country’s criminal code.
“While it is certainly the right of parents to give their children guidance when it comes to religion, such a right can never exceed the rights of the child.”
The draft law adds that children will be able to decide whether they want to undergo the practice when they “reach the age and maturity of their consent.”
Although it is not specified, the age of sexual consent in the country is 15.
Earlier this month Intact Denmark, a group advocating against genital mutilation, called for citizens to sign a petition to the Danish Parliament to ban circumcision for boys under the age of 18.
“If people want to let themselves be circumcised then they should have the opportunity to make that choice as an adult. Otherwise, they ought to be allowed to grow up with their body intact,” Lena Nyhu, chairperson of the organization was quoted by local media as saying.
Some doctors in the country have previously said circumcision for reasons other than to preserve health of men is “ethically unacceptable.”
“Circumcision of boys without a medical indication is ethically unacceptable when the procedure is carried out without informed consent from the person undergoing the surgery,” said the Danish Medical Association in its revised policy on circumcision.
“Therefore, circumcision should not be performed before the boy is 18 years old and able to decide whether this is an operation he wants.”