Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland Position Statement

Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland

Helsinki 25.8.2003

Position Statement on the Circumcision of Boys

Presented to the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (STM060:00/2003)

The Central Union for Child Welfare considers that circumcision of boys that violates the personal integrity of the boys is not acceptable unless it is done for medical reasons to treat an illness. The basis for the measures of a society must be an unconditional respect for the bodily integrity of an under-aged person.

Circumcision intervenes in the sexual integrity of a male child causing a permanent change in organisms and has consequences pertaining to both health and quality of life.

The circumcision of girls is rightly considered as inhuman mutilation of the genitals and is punished abuse. Also boys must be guaranteed a similar protection by law.

According to the opinion of the Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland nobody has the right, on behalf of the child, to consent to operation, violating the bodily integrity of the child, if it is not done to treat an illness. According to the Child Welfare Act the child has a right to special protection. The Child Custody and Right of Access Act bans the subduing and humiliation of a child.

The Constitution guarantees physical integrity. The motivations of the Constitution state explicitly that freedom of religion does not entitle [anyone] to violate the integrity of another person. It also states that a child shall be treated as an individual person who has full fundamental rights from birth. Intentional causing of pain and injury is defined as assault in the criminal law and is punishable. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that Finland has ratified demands that the States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.

Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Dignity of the Human Being with regard to the Application of Biology and Medicine that Finland has signed and that that is prepared to be ratified, states that an intervention may only be carried out on a person who does not have the capacity to consent, for his or her direct benefit.

The position of the Central Union for Child Welfare is that no law allowing the circumcision of boys shall be decreed.

The Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland hopes that the working group in the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health will consider measures to bring about a cultural change that will secure the integrity of children and leads to the end of circumcision.

Circumcision can only be allowed to independent major persons, both women and men, after it has been ascertained that the person in question wants it of his or her own free will and he or she has not been subjected to pressure.

Helsinki 25.8.2003

CIRP logo Note:

In 2006, a Finnish court ruled that the circumcision of male children is unlawful in Finland. For more information see: Court rules circumcision of four-year-old boy illegal.


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