Thursday, September 4, 2008

Staffordshire, UK -- Charity Says Bris Milah Can't Be Done Without Child's Consent

Norm-UK, a charity opposed to Bris Milah is holding a conference today on the subject. According to them, parents should not perform a Bris on a son on the grounds of faith without the child's consent. They say the practice is harmful and subjects children to surgery that is non-consensual, irreversible and unnecessary. The conference, which will take place at Keele University will address the issues of Bris Milah, in addition to examining the physical and psychological impact of these practices.

Laura MacDonald, a trustee of Norm-UK, said: "We are not calling for a ban on Jewish or Muslim parents circumcising their sons, but we're asking them to reconsider and wait until the child is old enough to give his consent. If it is a religious requirement then it has more value if carried out when someone has chosen to do it. It is unlawful for anyone under the age of 18 to be given a tattoo even if they want it. There's an anomaly here."

Norm-UK will be working with health visitors and midwives to raise awareness and there will also be events and leaflets aimed at educating parents. MacDonald said the charity would work with a range of bodies to gauge their views on the subject.

R’ Danny Rich, the chief executive of Liberal Judaism, said the movement considered ethical requirements to be of a higher order than the value of ritual practice. "Circumcision is an ancient Jewish rite and the majority of our families still support and practice it. Circumcision does not accord Jewish status in even the most traditional interpretations of who is a Jew and thus an uncircumcised Jewish child would be treated exactly the same as a circumcised one in our communities."

Mark Harris, from the Board of Deputies, said parents were free to do as they wished although most chose to adhere to Jewish law and tradition. "The debate about whether circumcision is medically beneficial is therefore of less relevance to Jewish parents than cultural and religious considerations," he said.

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