Swedish county eyeing ban on circumcision


(JTA) — A county in Sweden is moving ahead with plans to ban the nonmedical circumcision of boys, its leading elected official said.

Per-Ola Mattsson, the commissioner of Blekinge County, said he will up bring up a ban on the practice with the county’s health board in February, according to an article published Thursday by the Sydostran Daily.

According to the Dagens Medicin medical news site, Mattsson, who is also chairman of the Public Health Board of Blekinge, said he opposes the practice because minors “have no possibility to say no to the surgery and therefore the county should not perform these procedures.”

Located in southern Sweden, Blekinge County has a population of about 150,000.

In Sweden, nonmedical and medical circumcision may be performed only by licensed professionals, as per legislation from 2001.

Under the legislation, Jewish ritual circumcisers, or mohelim, in Sweden receive their licenses from the country’s health board, but a nurse or doctor must still be present when they perform the procedure. Representatives of the country’s Jewish community told JTA they are pleased with the arrangement, as it does not prevent them from performing the ritual.

In recent years, Scandinavian countries have seen an intensification of efforts to ban ritual circumcision by activists who say it violates children’s rights and by anti-immigration nationalists who seek to limit the effect that Muslim presence is having on Swedish society. In September, the rightist Sweden Democrats Party submitted a motion in parliament in favor of banning ritual circumcision.

In October, the children’s ombudsmen of all Nordic countries — Finland, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway — released a joint declaration proposing a ban on circumcision.

Pinchas Goldschmidt, President of the Conference of European Rabbis, told JTA: “This latest proposal is yet another alarm bell for Jews across Europe and our challenge for 2014 is to do whatever we can to ensure that other campaigners are not emboldened to make similar pronouncements.”

Recommended from JTA