AFTENPOFTEN, Oslo, Norway, 10 December 2003.

Damages for surprise circumcision

A man who woke up in a Molde [Norway] hospital and found himself the recipient of an unexpected circumcision has been awarded NOK 20,000 (USD 3,000) in compensation from the surgeon, newspaper Sunnmørsposten reports.

Frostating Court of Appeals ruled that the physician in charge of was negligent for not reading the man's journal before the operation, and found the result of the surgery constituted injury.

The patient told the court that he would never have embarked on surgery to relieve an uncomfortably tight foreskin if he had known a circumcision would result.

The man claimed that the circumcision had destroyed his sex life by reducing the sensitivity of his penis and because he was now embarrassed to appear naked in front of his wife. He said he was also embarrassed to be naked in public bathing facilities now.

The man originally sued both the hospital owner and the doctor but lost, then changed his appeal to concentrate on suing the doctor.

The surgeon said in his defense that at least 60 percent of American men are circumcised and that the procedure is routine for Jewish and Muslim babies. He also argued that the man was objectively better after the operation and he had been warned that the foreskin could be partially or completely removed.

The appeals court chose to believe that the resulting circumcision came as a shock to the patient, and ruled he had suffered damage, though not 'considerable' damage.

The court also ruled that circumcision remains unusual in Norway and that the physical changes to the man's organ were self-evident.

(File revised 11 December 2003)