NETHERLANDS: Boys' circumcision 'up for discussion'

Summary: The Royal Dutch Medical Association has put the circumcision of boys on the public agenda, saying that when carried out as a ritual practice it amounts to mutilation, as there are no medical grounds for it and it is performed without the consent of child affected.

[15 September 2011] - The circumcision of girls is already banned in the Netherlands, but the circumcision of boys should now be the subject of public debate, says the Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG).

The KNMG is calling on human rights groups and the children’s ombudsman to make explicit statements on the issue.

Muslim and Jewish organisations are not pleased with the move. “Circumcision is a precept of our faith, which we want to continue observing,” Driss El Boujoufi from the umbrella organisation, the union of Moroccan mosques, explains to Trouw newspaper.

The Jewish point of view also couldn’t be clearer. “No appreciable change can be made to the practice of circumcision,” says Rabbi Raphael Evers of the NIK Orthodox Jewish umbrella organisation.


The KNMG’s main objection to the ritual practice is that it amounts to mutilation of a child. “You’re doing something that’s irreversible to an underage child without him being able to give his consent,” argues the KNMG’s Lode Wigersma. “What’s more, it’s a medically irresponsible procedure: between five and 15 per cent of cases lead to later complications.”

Lex Klein, a doctor working at the BCN circumcision centre, disagrees: “In the decade that the BCN has been operating, we’ve circumcised about 37,000 boys and there’s not been a single serious complication.”


The KNMG denies that it is pushing for a ban on the circumcision of boys, [which it fears could push the procedure underground], saying that a first step is for doctors to discourage parents from having their male children circumcised.

Yusuf Altuntas of the CMO contact group for Muslims and the government worries the discussion may end in a ban. “If the KNMG wants to raise awareness, it shouldn’t be addressing government, parliament and human rights organisations but seeking dialogue with Jewish and Islamic youth,” he says in de Volkskrant newspaper.


Further Information: 



Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.