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DJW is a man from British Columbia who in 2007 attempted to circumcise his four-year-old son on the kitchen floor of his home in April 2007. He used a carpet blade that he purchased at Home Depot earlier that day and sterilized. He didn’t give his son any anesthetic, just four ounces of homemade honey wine. The circumcision wasn’t successful and there was significant bleeding, which the father stopped with the help of a veterinary blood-stopping agent and paper towels.

The result,” according to court documents submitted by the Crown, was “the foreskin on D.J.’s penis stuck out like two arms. D.J. was not circumcised. He was disfigured.”


In 2009, the man was charged with criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon. He was convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm but acquitted of the other two charges. The B.C. Court of Appeal found him guilty on all counts, and he appealed to the Supreme Court.

The father identifies himself as a Jehovah’s Witness - a church that neither condones nor forbids the practice. He said he personally believes circumcision is necessary to “make things right with God.”

He also argues that he didn't intend to hurt his son and took many safety precautions including consulting doctors (who advised him against it) and reading about circumcision online.[1]

Carissima Mathen, law professor at the University of Ottawa
When you have something like this where, on an objective basis, the benefits of this procedure are mixed, and it seems like the primary motivation for circumcising your son is cultural or religious, are those beliefs something that we should factor into whether this a reasonable thing for someone to have done? It raises questions such as why is it, in fact, that we permit infant circumcision? ([2]

A trial judge found that over the years after his son’s birth, the father known only as D.J.W. decided to “make things right with God” by following the laws of Moses, according to court documents. This included circumcision.

The trial judge found that D.J.W. had consulted with two rabbis and four physicians, and had asked several doctors to perform his son’s circumcision. None would do it because the boy would have required a general anesthetic, which could not be justified for a child so young.


In 2007, after giving his son some homemade honey wine, D.J.W. attempted to circumcise the boy on the kitchen floor, according to court documents, wounding him in the process.

The boy later had to have corrective surgery - where the circumcision process was completed.

D.J.W. was found guilty in 2009 of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, but was acquitted of two other charges. The B.C. Court of Appeal stayed the conviction and upped the charge to aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.[3]

The Supreme Court ruled that DJW is guilty of criminal negligence causing bodily harm, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.


According to the Crown, the father lacked the medical skills to perform a circumcision. He tried to circumcise himself in 2005 using a Zhenxi ring, or circumcision ring. It wasn't successful and the father had to be rushed to a hospital.[4]

The Crown
This is a case about child abuse, this is not a case about the applicant's religious freedom or circumcision generally.[5]
The Factum
The appellant's actions were performed with reasonable cause ... and without intent to assault or in any way harm his son (Montreal Gazette)[5]

The trial judge found the kitchen was not a sanitary place for a surgical procedure, that the blade used wasn't as sharp as a surgical instrument and it was inappropriate to use a veterinary product to try and staunch the bleeding from the boy's partly severed foreskin.

DJW's religious background was as a Jehovah's Witness, although he was "disfellowshipped" by his family and the church. The Crown said his religious education and associations later led him to believe that male circumcision was a covenant with God.

He attempted to circumcise himself in 2005 and could not stop the bleeding. He had to go to an emergency room where a doctor sutured the wound.

His name is under a publication ban to protect the child's identity.[5]

See also

Spare the Rod