An email from Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, Icelandic MP

I’ve just had an email exchange with Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir MP, the Icelandic MP behind the bid to make MGM illegal in Iceland. She has asked me to make public the following information:

The bill is at the moment in process in the Icelandic parliament. My arguments for the proposing the bill

“At the moment the bill 183 is discussed in the Icelandic parliament. Circumcision on girls and women was banned by law in Iceland 2005. Bill 183 is exactly the same as the law we already implemented, except the word „girls“ is now „children“. We should have the same law for all children.
Circumcision is not common in Iceland. People were surprised that boys didn’t have the same protection as girls, in accordance with the law from 2005. I would also point out that The Ombudsmen for Children in all the Nordic countries published a common statement 2013, were they encourage all the Nordic countries to ban circumcision on boys, since it goes against the UN Convention of the Right of the Child. Save the Children in Iceland published a similar statement.

We put bill 183 forward to protect the rights of children, first and foremost, and the individual freedom of the child to choose when it is old enough to do so – to give it´s informed consent. Until then, child’s body should be intact, in our opinion.“

About the process in the Parliament of Iceland

“The bill is put forward by representatives from four political parties. This is an internal affair and we are still discussing the bill. When the first round of discussions is over, a parliamentary committee will further research the matter and then take their conclusion into the floor of parliament, for another round of discussions. It is uncertain when discussions will conclude and what the outcome of the vote will be. It is totally normal that we, as Icelandic MP´s, take complicated matters, such as male circumcisions up for discussion in parliament. We cannot be afraid of talking about difficult, sensitive and highly debated issues. It is our job to do so and form the legal framework in our society.“

About child protection, not put forward against religion

“Circumcision on boys and girls is technically different, as we all know. But in both cases the individual right of the child to choose, is taken away. Those procedures are unnecessary, done without their informed consent, non reversible and can cause all kinds of severe complications, disfigurations and even death. Thankfully, many do not have any complications, but some do and one is too many if the procedure is unnecessary.

The bill is not put forward against religion. It is put forward to protect children and their right. Banning circumcision of boys does not go against the religious right of their parents.“

Here are information about the links mentioned above and some more

This is a link to the statement of the icelandic ombodsman of children. Further down there is a attached pdf letter with the common statement of the Nordic countries.

The Convention of the Right of the Child (United Nations)- English:

Informing article; Pediatrics 2013, written by 38 pediatrics, where they question the health benefits of circumcision, if they exist at all.

Banning circumcision of boys does not go against the religious right of their parents.“


Arguments from The Ombudsman for Children in Norway in the mass media 20. February 2018:


All the best,

Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir,

Member of the Parliament in Iceland

11 thoughts on “An email from Silja Dögg Gunnarsdóttir, Icelandic MP

  1. Great work ! Genital mutilation can not be excused by a religion and the mutilation of boys can’t be tolerated any more than the mutilation of girls.

  2. “There isn’t any significant difference between FGM and MGM in terms of the historical motivations for doing both” Precisely so. So the defence of the latter hinges on the power of that cultural lobby. The argument is not one of principle, as in principle both are an assault, but the power of the cultural lobby. Attempts to prevent MGM in Germany, Austria and Denmark all failed to make statute due to loud campaigns of “Nazis”. The “Cultural” lobby trumped that of principle.
    I do not dispute what you say about circumcisions affects, however in any perceived “competition” between men and women in our gynocentric society the presumption is always the latter are more vulnerable. In a campaigning sense the argument is always “lost” not because of the facts but because of the ingrained bias.
    It remains to be seen but it seems the focus on the principle and rights of children may carry the day on this occasion.

  3. There isn’t any significant difference between FGM and MGM in terms of the historical motivations for doing both. The only difference is in the extent of dysfunction caused, and despite the claims by the media and academia, the average MGM is many many times worse than the average FGM due to all the sexual pleasure coming from the foreskin. It blows my mind that there’s still this commonly held belief that the glans penis is significantly pleasurable.

  4. Even if they were different the point would remain that neither are a routine medical necessity and the arguments for both are essentially cultural/religious. Though I agree there isn’t much difference the argument becomes a distracting “red herring” (which neatly plays into the deep deep social concern with protecting females). What the MP has set out is the case in principle as a human right for any procedure on the body. As you say the presumption is that somehow the cultural issues trump anything else and lets be clear the “fear” is of the Jewish lobby and the charge of “Nazi”. Clearly the cultural and religious issues in FGM cut no ice at all and in many countries I doubt the Islamic issues would cause much concern (unlike modern Britain).
    The US appears a different thing altogether as the only Country still propounding health benefits (and promoting the same in Africa).

  5. “Circumcision on boys and girls is technically different, as we all know”

    No, they are not. Why do even people who want to outlaw MGM always seem to believe FGM is worse or different? In reality, MGM (foreskin amputation) is worse than almost all FGM since all the erogenous nerves in the penis are in the foreskin. There is zero scientific evidence the average FGM removes more erogenous sensation and functionality than the average MGM.

    I would like to know what law in Iceland states that non-medical non-consensual foreskin amputation is legal, because if they are anything like the rest of the world, they assume it’s legal, even though it isn’t if there are laws against assault.

  6. It is amazing how conforming with societal norms can distort the ability to think clearly. These statements are patently sane and realistic. The arguments in defence of MGM in the UK and Europe are illogical and simply statements of blind acceptance of stupidity.
    Even when the freedoms and respect of children are at stake many individuals cling to conformity and mindless rhetoric because?..because.
    Iceland is setting the bar at the correct height. Good News!

  7. Thank you for this very informative explanation. I think it a very important point indeed to sidestep the debates about which is “worse” FGM or MGM and concentrate on the simple fact that it is an unnecessary procedure on an infant or child that could await their consent later ,as is the case for all sorts of “body modification” procedures. It is interesting that the Bill is simply framed as Children and removes the sexism of a bill about “Girls”. In effect challenging the powerful feminist lobbies in “Nordic Countries” to support what they say they believe in, equal rights.
    I suspect the UK is not unlike the Iceland and Nordic countries in that people generally probably don’t think much about the issue because it never had the widespread support as in the US and remained until recently perceived as an odd quirk of Jews.(Frankly if I thought of it at all I’d thought it was done by doctors in this country, this campaign has been an education). As I understand it culturally Islamic male circumcision can occur at various ages so infant circumcision must not be “core”.
    Given that the grounds for FGM are Cultural/Religious and so are MGM there is no defence in principal a “gendered” approach. After all similarly “cultural” procedures as scarification, tattooing, piercings etc. are controlled by law for both sexes of children.

  8. This is really good news. It might only affect a small number of infants in Iceland, but if it can be put into legislation there, it can spread to other Nordic countries, and if they can adopt it, it will spread across Europe. The legislation is simple, because most countries already have laws against FGM, so it only requires a simple word change. And the advocates of MGM have yet to put up a good argument – relying on calling everyone a Nazi sympathizer is appalling and unworthy. Many Muslims and Jews already oppose circumcision, and presumably they have not yet been struck down by thunderbolts. Dare one suggest that at last things are moving in the right direction?

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