Swedish circumcision law is not working

THE LOCAL, Stockholm, Wednesday, 5 October 2005.

Published: 5th October 2005 17:55 CET

Circumcision law "is not working"

Many boys in Sweden are still being damaged by illegal circumcisions, despite the introduction of a law in 2001 to protect them. But how many boys are being operated on by people without the legal right to do so is still unclear, according to the National Board of Health and Welfare.

"We can't reach all of these," said Torsten Mossberg, who is head of the health board's regional supervisory unit in Stockholm.

"But those of us who are in charge of supervision know that it happens and that now and then parents come in with a little boy with a bloody penis - and that's been done by someone," he said.

Mossberg has studied at of the effects of the four year old law, which says that only a doctor or someone with special permission may perform circumcisions. If the child is older than two months, only a qualified doctor may carry out the operation.

Circumcisions in Sweden are performed almost exclusively by Muslim and Jewish families and are grounded in religious beliefs.

But the study's results are based on scarce evidence. Since the law came into effect, the National Board of Health and Welfare has had only three cases reported by the health service.

In addition, five boys between the ages of one and seven have been registered within open care for complications after a circumcision. Precisely what those complications were was not addressed by Torsten's work.

"It could be cases which were carried out in the public health system but my impression is that they were cases where the circumcision was not performed there," he said.

Since these boys were all older than one year, the implication is that these were Muslim circumcisions since the Jewish ceremony is carried out in the first weeks after the birth. But Torsten Mossberg said he did not want to draw that conclusion.

"I don't want to point out the Muslims," he said. "That would be too specific."


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