Norway’s union of nurses urged the government last month to ban non-medical circumcision of boys under 15. The Norwegian Nurses Organization first reported the plea in an interview with its director, which was posted Tuesday on the organization’s website.
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“We need to gain acceptance for setting a minimum age limit of 15-16 years for circumcision, so that the boy himself can decide,” Astrid Grydeland Ersvik said, outlining a presentation she made to health ministry officials at a February 27 meeting.
Grydeland Ersvik requested the meeting to discuss new regulations on circumcision that the health ministry said it would issue before summer.
In an interview for Aftenposten Wednesday, Health Minister Bent Hoie said his draft for the regulations proposes all circumcisions take place in hospitals but that he has no plans to ban the practice.
In her interview, Grydeland Ersvik said that although “the Jews are a small group in Norway, they have been allowed to influence the debate on this issue."
She drew parallels between female genital mutilation, which is forbidden in Norway, and ritual circumcision of boys.
“If we get a law that allows this in boys while it is illegal in girls, then this is discriminatory,” she said.
Jewish groups have rejected the analogy, arguing that ritual circumcision for boys does not maim them and helps protect against diseases.
In October, Council of Europe assembly members passed a resolution against non-medical circumcision of boys, which calls circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children."
That same month, government advisers on child welfare from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland issued a joint resolution in favor of banning the ritual circumcision of minors.
Among the leaders of the fight against circumcision in Norway is Anne Lindboe, the government’s children’s ombudswoman.
In November, she said Jews and Muslims would abstain from circumcising babies if they are educated about the risks. And in 2012, she proposed they express their faiths by performing a symbolic, non-surgical ritual instead of circumcision.
According to Hoie, some 2,000 ritual circumcisions are performed annually in Norway. Of those, only five to 10 are of Jews, according to Grydeland Ersvik.