Sunday Times caption: Campaigners say circumcision raises the question of whether children have human rights
A piece by Nicholas Hellen in today’s edition of The Sunday Times. I’ve posted a lengthy comment pointing out the illegality of MGM, and linking to materials on MGM, including four blog pieces by William Collins. I urge supporters to add their own comments. The piece:
A mother whose baby son was in such pain after he was circumcised that he could not wear a nappy said boys should be given the same protection as girls get from female genital mutilation (FGM).
The mother, who is taking legal action to prosecute the doctor who carried out the surgery without her consent, said: “For FGM they can stop people taking daughters out of this country but they won’t protect boys in this country.”
Her lawyer, Saimo Chahal QC, a partner at the London law firm Bindmans, is seeking to challenge a Crown Prosecution Service decision taken last November not to prosecute.
The case has attracted the support of pressure groups that want to capitalise on moves by Iceland to become the first European country to ban the procedure for non-medical reasons.
Tim Alford, of the Men Do Complain pressure group, said: “The question is whether children have human rights or if they are dependent on the culture and faith of the parents.”
While it is a criminal offence to perform FGM in the UK or overseas, “nobody really gets” the problem with circumcision, the mother said. She is 29 and lives in Nottingham but cannot be named so as to protect her son’s privacy.
“I have had to lay my son on a towel and not even been able to put him in a nappy because he is scratching away and he is in that much pain and somebody has inflicted that on my child,” she said.
“My little boy could have died on that [operating] table . . . and they could say it was an accident. Somebody needs to be held accountable for what they are doing to little boys.”
The CPS wrote to her to say: “Had it been the case that [the doctor] had performed the operation knowing that you did not consent, then potentially his actions would have amounted to assault.”
She conceived her child in a casual affair with a Muslim man and has sole parental responsibility. She said she did not put the father’s name on the birth certificate because it was “a fling that went wrong” and she knew nothing about him. She is white British and is not religious.
Nonetheless, she was willing for her son to go on occasional visits to his father’s family: “I wanted him to have a big family around him.”
The baby was with the family during the Eid festival when the grandmother took him to be circumcised with the consent of the father but not the mother.
The mother said it was done to make her son identify as Muslim: “His dad said he’s going to know he’s one of us and he’s going to hate you for the way you bring him up if I don’t bring him up a Muslim.”
She added: “I wanted him to appreciate his [father’s] culture and his family background but I didn’t want any strong influencing. I wanted to meet down the middle and there wasn’t a middle.”
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