YLE News, Helsinki, Thursday, 31 July 2008.

Finland Considers Legalising Male Circumcision

Finland is considering legalising the practice of male circumcision. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health is currently preparing draft legislation, which would make circumcision acceptable when performed by a doctor, according to the parents' wishes, and with the child's consent.

According to the bill, parents can choose to perform the procedure on behalf of a small child. However difficulties may arise in cases where one parent opposes the circumcision. Officials hope to bring the bill before Parliament as early as this year.

In Finland circumcisions are carried out for religious purposes by members of the Jewish, Muslim and Tartar communities. Estimates are that currently about 100 operations are performed annually.

Police Investigate Two Circumcision Cases

Currently the law on male circumcision is somewhat hazy. Information about circumcisions is passed on to police for further investigation. Police enquiries have put an end to some attempts to carry out circumcisions, since the procedure is treated as serious abuse.

In 2006, the Turku district court convicted a Muslim mother for circumcising her son, however she was not sentenced. The Court of Appeal subsequently ruled that the mother was not guilty of abuse. The case is now being considered in the Finnish Supreme Court.

Helsinki police are currently investigating two cases in which male circumcisions were performed by Muslim and Jewish families. Both operations were performed by persons brought into Finland by the families, and who were not medical professionals.

Police say that complications arose following the procedures and the babies had to be hospitalised. The cases will be reviewed by the prosecutor during the autumn. YLE

(File created 31 July 2008)