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No Law on Male Circumcision After All

Finland has decided not to regulate male circumcision. A bill legalising the practice has been in the works for seven years, but Minister of Health and Social Services Paula Risikko has decided not to bring it before Parliament.

Hunnutettu nainen kävelemässä kadulla
Anne, joka sai sakot ajettuaan autoa kasvot kokonaan peittävässä niqab-huivissa, kävelee tapaamaan toimittajia Nantesissa huhtikuussa 2010. Image: Franck Dubray / EPA

In Finland circumcisions are carried out for religious purposes by members of the Jewish, Muslim and Tartar communities. Estimates are that currently about 200 operations are performed annually.

While Finnish law classifies female genital mutilation as serious abuse, no legislation has been passed on the practice concerning boys.

With no clear rules on male circumcision, doctors carrying out the procedure as well as parents may be slapped with abuse charges.

In 2006, a Muslim mother in Tampere was convicted for circumcising her son, however, the Finnish Supreme Court eventually dropped the charges.

After seven years of drafting a bill legalising male circumcision, the Ministry of Health and Social Services decided not to pursue the matter.

“We’ve deliberated over this for a long time at the ministry, and after many discussions and evaluations, we’ve reached a decision that a separate law isn’t needed,” Risikko told YLE.

Many physicians, police officials and NGOs in Finland oppose male circumcision. Critics say they want clarity on the issue and say the practice doesn't have a place in Finnish society.

A working group under Migration Minister Astrid Thors is now faced with drawing up guidelines on circumcision for public health clinics. The main questions are where circumcisions should be carried out and who should pay.

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