UK doctor faces prosecution over Islamic circumcision

UK doctor faces prosecution over Islamic circumcision April 8, 2018

The mother of a boy who was circumcised against her wishes is seeking to challenge a Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision taken last November not to prosecute the doctor who carried out the procedure.

According to this National Secular Society report, via the Sunday Times, the boy was in such pain after he was ritually mutilated  that he could not wear a nappy.
The CPS challenge is being mounted by the mother’s solicitor, Saimo Chahal QC, a partner at the London law firm Bindmans.
The  baby was reportedly conceived after the mother had casual affair with a Muslim man. The baby was with the family during the Eid festival when the grandmother took him to be circumcised with the consent of the father but not the mother.
The mother, who has sole parental responsibility, said the boy was mutilated to make her son identify as Muslim:

His dad said he’s going to know he’s one of us and he’s going to hate you for the way you bring him up if I don’t bring him up a Muslim.

Female genital mutilation has been a criminal offence in the UK since 1985, but “nobody really gets” the problem with male circumcision, the mother said.

I have had to lay my son on a towel and not even been able to put him in a nappy because he is scratching away. Somebody needs to be held accountable for what they are doing to little boys.

The CPS had reportedly previously written to her to say:

Had it been the case that [the doctor] had performed the operation knowing that you did not consent, then potentially his actions would have amounted to assault.

Infant male circumcision is increasingly under the spotlight largely due to an international community of medics, lawyers and human rights workers challenging the practice. A draft bill to end non-therapeutic male genital cutting currently before the Icelandic parliament says circumcision without consent is a violation of children’s human rights.
The National Secular Society has long campaigned for an end to all forms of forced genital cutting.
Stephen Evans, NSS CEO, commented:

For too long, the most basic rights of young boys have been ignored due to an unwillingness to question this particular religious and cultural practice. The time has surely come to prioritise child safeguarding over parents’ wishes to express their religious beliefs through the cutting of their child’s genitals. Parent shouldn’t be entitled to demand surgical procedures that are contrary to the child’s best interests.

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  • Gaurav Tyagi

    The baby was reportedly conceived after the mother had casual affair with a Muslim man and the Mother has the sole Patental responsibility. It simply means that the Muslim man over here screwed this woman and run away but just ensured that the boy identifies himself as a Muslim by cutting the foreskin of his ‘lil banana’. One has to bear the consequences of one’s actions. This is what you get for sleeping around and having a casual affair with a Muslim man. This whole circumcision business being performed on male babies is nothing but extreme child abuse and religious indoctrination.

  • 1859

    Tribal scarring of babies – totally abhorrent. Hope Iceland shows the way. I didn’t know FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985? But how many convictions?
    FGM = MGM = baby abuse.

  • Great Satan

    A campaign to ban male circumcision is something that atheists/secularists etc would do well to get off the ground, I detect a shift in public consciousness against this religious child abuse.

  • Club Secretary

    @ 1859 says:
    Mon 9 Apr 2018 at 4:36 am
    To answer your question, a handful of prosecutions but NO successful convictions.
    The police & cps always seem to screw up the case, I wonder why?

  • Laura Roberts

    Probably being mean here, but generally I place football coach somewhere below used-car salesman on the respectability scale. High-school football coach is definitely near the bottom of the barrel.

  • L.Long

    Circumcision without the primary parents permission is ASSAULT!!!! HOWEVER the mom is a full blown dimwitted more-on!!! She should be charged with leaving the child in a dangerous area!!! NEVER trust anyone who acts opposite to their religion…they are LIARS & hypocrites not to be trusted!!!! She does not stand a chance on earth of winning in court!

  • Michael Glass

    This situation calls out for law reform.
    If a child is to be circumcised, both the mother and the father must give informed and written consent to the surgery. No child should be circumcised against the objection of a parent.
    In this case the doctor acted on the request of the father and the paternal grandmother. If the law had insisted that the written consent of both parents must be obtained, this situation would not have arisen
    Adopting this rule could prevent many such cases in future, and prompt the Crown Prosecution Service to take any similar cases seriously.
    Calls to ban circumcision make people feel righteous. However, if progress is to be made, the following legal changes also need to be enacted:
    * Unqualified people should be banned from circumcising anyone!
    * Qualified but incompetent circumcisers should be banned from circumcising anyone else! 
    * Dangerous traditional practices such as metzitzah b’peh (oral suction of the circumcision wound) should be discouraged by public education and other suitable measures.
    * Before anyone is circumcised, an independent doctor must certify in writing that the person is free of any bleeding disorders and any other contra-indications and is strong enough to withstand the surgery.
    * If a man or an older child is forcibly circumcised against his will, this should be treated as a sexual assault, and the perpetrator prosecuted accordingly.
    It is true that these legal changes won’t interfere with most juvenile circumcisions. However, that is the very feature of the reforms that will disarm much opposition and make the reforms easier to support.
    If implemented, these reforms would raise safety standards, take a firm stand against forced circumcision of adults and older children and help ensure that a child cannot be circumcised against the will of a parent.

  • Daz

    “If a child is to be circumcised, both the mother and the father must give informed and written consent to the surgery. No child should be circumcised against the objection of a parent.”

    Sorry, but no.
    (The following applies to any surgery on people too young to give informed consent.)
    A child should only be circumcised if there is a proven medical need, despite any parental wish to unnecessarily butcher their child, even if both parents agree. If there is a proven medical need, then the surgeon should act in accordance with the medical needs of the child, despite any parental objection. (The latter has happened in similar cases, and been upheld by the court, in the case of (I think it was) Jehova’s Witnesses.)

  • Stephen Mynett

    Daz, I will try to find the case about the JWs. These days things are getting better and children are protected to a degree.
    The case you are thinking probably involved the need for a transfusion as, despite what JWs argue, blood is a necessity at times. Surgery without blood transfusions is possible but not in every circumstance, although that annoying JW who was posting here a while back would try to argue otherwise.

  • ray metcalfe

    Daz Jw don’t circumcise children at least they don’t now I used to be A jw . They will refuse a blood transfusion though.

  • Daz

    Yeah. That’s why I said “similar.” The point of similarity being that the parents’ wishes were judged to be overridden by the needs of the child.

  • Michael Glass

    “A child should only be circumcised if there is a proven medical need, despite any parental wish to unnecessarily butcher their child, even if both parents agree.”
    Unfortunately, this won’t fly. Opposition from religious groups would scuttle it.
    If Wilberforce could get the slave trade banned before trying to ban slavery in the British Empire, and the Parliament could pass the Reform Bills of 1832, 1867, 1884, 1918 and 1928 to get to universal suffrage, then a series of partial reform of the laws on circumcision might have a greater chance of success than simply calling for a ban on all circumcision..
    Even if you don’t like parents having the power to circumcise their son, you could still support a law treating the forced circumcision of men as a sexual assault.
    Even if you can’t stand any circumcision you could still agree that unqualified people must be banned from circumcising anyone.
    Surely anyone could insist that incompetent surgeons must be prohibited from circumcising any more patients!
    Sometimes reforms must be worked on step by step.

  • Daz

    I do agree with those things. It’s the part I quoted which I disagree with. Nor does that fact that it probably (almost certainly) won’t fly at the moment mean that we should not try to make it fly.
    Nor do I think a “must need both parents’ consent”law would have any significant effect, since the only couples it would have effect on are those few in which both partners aren’t of the same religion.

  • Daz

    Talking of parental preferences, though.

  • 1859

    For those with a religious take on reality, a step-by-step reform strategy leads to an open door – they will find a million ways around the law and remain mutilating babies. No a robust response is needed, not a pussy-footing response.

  • Michael Glass

    There is nothing pussyfooting about a law that treats the forced circumcision of men as the sexual assault that it is.
    There’s nothing pussyfooting about a law that bans unqualified people from circumcising anyone.
    There’s nothing pussyfooting about a lifetime ban on those who botch circumcisions.
    Without regulations or laws to make circumcision unlawful unless both parents agree in writing, you will continue to have cases, such as the one above, where one parent went behind the back of the other to have the boy circumcised.In this case it is obvious that the chief instigator was the boy’s paternal grandmother.
    One way to forestall this by putting on doctors a responsibility to ensure that BOTH parents request the procedure. That mightn’t be ideal, but it’s a good deal better than having the situation described above.
    There are, of course, a million ways round any law, I am sure that dozens of murders go unpunished, hundreds of thousands of thefts are undetected and millions or road rules are defied.
    Laws aren’t perfect, but carefully considered reforms can still do a lot of good.

  • 1859

    All of what you say I agree with, but it still leaves two adults in control of their children’s foreskins. They consent to having it removed, not the child because the baby/child is too young to understand what the fuck it needs to lose its foreskin for. The law should protect the child not the religious rites/rights of the parents. The law should ban male circumcision until the boy reaches 16 – after which age he can decide for himself whether to be religiously snipped or not. You ignore in all you have said above, the basic human rights of the child – not to be violated in such an atrocious manner.

  • Daz

    I want to stress this. If a law is passed which specifically states that unnecessary surgery may be performed on a child provided both parents agree, that will be a step backwards. Instead of there merely being no law against parental violation of a child’s autonomy, such violation would be enshrined and protected as a legal right.

  • 1859

    @Daz: Absolutely – well said.

  • Michael Glass

    What you say sounds so good, but it still means that you leave no protection for a child and a parent who wants to protect him against the other parent who is intent on circumcising him.
    As for the idea that no law is better than some law, I suggest you examine this case:
    Here is a man without medical training, and because there are no rules about circumcision he got off scot-free!
    Sometimes, harm minimisation is the best that can be done.
    However, if you don’t like the wording to say that a child may be circumcised if both parents agree, perhaps you would prefer the law to say that a child may not be circumcised if one of his parents objects.

  • John the Drunkard

    How old was the boy?
    Who performed the mutilation?
    Have they been arrested?
    Why was the child EVER put in the care of his (absent) father’s family?
    Why would any woman have contact with a ‘believing’ Muslim male, considering the implications of his beliefs?

  • barriejohn

    If circumcision (of a child) isn’t physical assault, then what is?

  • Daz

    “As for the idea that no law is better than some law, I suggest you examine this case: …
    “Here is a man without medical training, and because there are no rules about circumcision he got off scot-free!”

    As both myself and 1859 have stressed, we are not disagreeing with your ideas in regards to such cases.

    “perhaps you would prefer the law to say that a child may not be circumcised if one of his parents objects.”

    Better, yes. It at least avoids legally enshrining a right to circumcise. Assuming some weasely politician doesn’t re-frame it “to make it easier to pass”or similar.
    Quick checklist:
    • How effective do you see this law being? (How many couples would disagree on the matter?)
    • Would the passage of such a law provide a rallying point for pro-cutters, making the future banning of all medically unnecessary cutting even harder?
    • What knock-on effects (if any, good or bad) would the campaign for such a law have on other anti-abuse campaigns?

  • Michael Glass

    The cases where parents disagree on circumcising a child are not common but when they occur they can be really hard-fought and nasty. Here are some examples:
    The case we are commenting on
    This case where a mother was jailed because she resisted having her son circumcised and the child’s father insisted that it take place
    In this case a British judge decided that a child should not be circumcised.
    Here’s another case where a marriage fell apart over the issue:
    And another where a doctor tries to adjudicate between parents:
    but if that’s all too gruesome, they this:
    A rule that says that a child cannot be circumcised if a parent objects might be helpful in sorting out these disputes.

  • Michael Glass

    Hi, I tried to provide links to cases of disputes over circumcision but this excited your spam filter.
    Here are my points in reply.
    1 It is not my intention to imply a right to circumcise children, so I’ll change the wording of my proposal in future. Thanks for the feedback.
    2 Really nasty disputes between parents over circumcision occasionally result in media coverage. A general rule not to circumcise if parents can’t or won’t agree on the matter could be a circuit-breaker in some of these cases.
    3 My preference would be for a whole raft of reforms as I outlined above. They are designed to deal with problems in a non-partisan way, and not take sides in the debate about circumcision. It’s an appeal for harm minimisation that could be accepted by both sides of the debate on circumcision.
    4 One effect would be to make circumcision safer by providing government regulation of the practice. I think doctors would support this while religious bodies would accept it because it’s not a ban on circumcision.It would be a step in the right direction for anti-abuse campaigners, but it would not go far enough for them to be satisfied.The struggle to end juvenile circumcision would continue.
    5 Social change can take decades or even centuries. The campaigns to stop the slaughter of witches and to end slavery took centuries. Any attempt to ban circumcision would be fought all the way. That is why a harm minimisation approach is so important. There is no need to wait for centuries to enact reforms that could garner widespread support today or in the near future.