Helsingin Sanomat [Helsinki News], Tuesday, 21 August 2001.

Botched circumcisions send four boys to hospital in Kuopio

Authorities investigate aftermath of operations by visiting Muslim doctor

Four Muslim boys have been hospitalised in the eastern city of Kuopio for complications resulting from circumcisions.

One of the boys had gangrene in his penis, but it apparently was successfully treated in hospital.

An African-born doctor visiting Kuopio last week performed the operation on seven Muslim boys. The youngest was just three months old, and the oldest were about ten.

The first of the boys were brought to the hospital on Wednesday night last week.

The Kuopio University Hospital and public health clinics do not perform male circumcisions except for medical reasons.

Female circumcision, also known as female genital mutilation, is practised in a number of areas in North Africa. The procedure is illegal in Finland and is prosecuted as an assault.

The Provincial Government of Eastern Finland is investigating the events of recent days.

"At this point we are ascertaining what kind of a doctor was at work, if he has a right to practice medicine, and in what kinds of conditions it has taken place", says Provincial doctor Antti Turunen.

"Fortunately the patients are being treated and nothing worse happened. However, this is already pretty bad."

If the case is found to involve serious negligence, the matter will be dealt with by the National Authority for Medicolegal Affairs (TEO). According to director-general Eila Uotila, the professional skill of a doctor can be reviewed if his or her patient suffers more complications than normal.

In a ruling issued in 1999 the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Riitta-Leena Paunio said that Finnish public health institutions are not obliged to perform male circumcisions for non-medical reasons.

Paunio said that a cautious view should be taken on male circumcision, even though the right to practice religion should be respected.

Different hospitals have different policies concerning circumcision for non-medical reasons.

The university hospitals in Helsinki and Kuopio do not perform religious circumcisions. At the Oulu University Hospital, about half a dozen such procedures are performed each year.

The university hospitals of Tampere and Turku stopped performing religious circumcisions after the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman's decision.


Religious Tolerance.org: Female Genital Mutilation (aka female circumcision)
Male circumcision: the case against (Family Medicine Connect - UK)
Male circumcision: a Muslim perspective (Family Medicine Connect - UK)
Male circumcision: a Jewish perspective (Family Medicine Connect - UK)

Cite as:
(File prepared 26 August 2001)

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