German court: Circumcision unlawful personal injury

A regional appeals court in Germany found the circumcision of an 11-year-old Muslim boy to be unlawful.

The Sept. 20 decision in a Frankfurt am Main appeals court found that the boy’s circumcision without his approval was an unlawful personal injury. The decision opened the way toward financial compensation for the boy.

The case may have repercussions for the practice of ritual circumcision in Germany by Muslims and Jews. The court suggested, in part, that it was a punishable offense to subject one’s child to teasing by other children for looking different.

The boy, now 14, plans to sue his father for 10,000 Euro (about $14,000), according to a report by the German ddp press agency.

Reportedly, the boy, whose parents are divorced, was visiting his father during a vacation when his father forced the ritual circumcision. The boy lives with his mother, who had always rejected circumcision. Muslim boys are traditionally circumcised at elementary school age.

According to the court, circumcision can “be important in individual cases for the cultural-religious and physical self-image,” even if there are no health disadvantages involved. So the decision about whether or not to go through with a circumcision is “a central right of a person to determine his identity and life.”

The court did not give an age minimum at which their parents must seek a child’s permission to perform a circumcision . The amount of damages depends, said the court, on the extent to which the boy suffered long-term physical or emotional damage, or “whether his peers would tease him for looking different.”

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