Finland is a Nordic nation in Northern Europe. Like other Nordic nations, the people abhor non-medical child circumcision. Finland is a republic with a 200-member unicameral parliament.
In 2013, children's ombudsmen from Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, along with the Chair of the Danish Children's Council and the children's spokesperson for Greenland, passed a resolution that emphasized the decision to be circumcised should belong to the individual, who should be able to give informed consent.
The Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists (2013) supports the position of the Nordic Association of Ombudsmen who reason that circumcision violates the individual's human rights by denying the male child his ability to make the decision for himself.
The Constitution of Finland has a strong Bill of Rights in Chapter 2 — Basic rights and liberties. Section Seven states:
Everyone has the right to life, personal liberty, integrity and security.
No one shall be sentenced to death, tortured or otherwise treated in a manner violating human dignity.
The personal integrity of the individual shall not be violated, nor shall anyone be deprived of liberty arbitrarily or without a reason prescribed by an Act. A penalty involving deprivation of liberty may be imposed only by a court of law. The lawfulness of other cases of deprivation of liberty may be submitted for review by a court of law. The rights of individuals deprived of their liberty shall be guaranteed by an Act.
Finland became the 23rd member State of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1989. As a member of the Council of Europe, Finland is subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and is pledged to advance the enumerated rights in its territory. It may be sued in the European Court of Human Rights for violations of its duty.
The Right to Security of Person is provided by Article Five of the ECHR.
Resolution no. 1952 (2013) 'Children's right to physical integrity' of the Parliament Assembly of the Council of Europe, which includes the issue of physical integrity of intersex children for the first time, was adopted on October 1, 2013 following an initiative of the German SPD politician Marlene Rupprecht.
The resolution includes other topics such as the female genital mutilation, the male circumcision for religious reasons, and the submission or coercion of a child to piercings, tattoos or cosmetic surgery.
The resolution calls on all member States to "examine the prevalence of different categories of non-medically justified operations and interventions impacting on the physical integrity of children in their respective countries, as well as the specific practices related to them, and to carefully consider them in light of the best interests of the child in order to define specific lines of action for each of them; initiate focused awareness-raising measures for each of these categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, to be carried out in the specific contexts where information may best be conveyed to families, such as the medical sector (hospitals and individual practitioners), schools, religious communities or service providers; [...]."
This first resolution of its kind by a European institution is not legally binding, but an important signal for further debate and action. It shifts the approach of the point of view of the topic from the current medical domain towards a human rights approach and identifies the right to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination. It calls the for the end of non-therapeutic cosmetic medical and surgical interventions.
In a ruling issued in 1999 the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Riitta-Leena Paunio said that Finnish public health institutions are not obliged to perform male circumcisions for non-medical reasons.
Four boys in Finland were hospitalized after being circumcised by a visiting Muslim doctor. One of the boys had gangrene in his penis, but it apparently was successfully treated in hospital. An African-born doctor visiting Kuopio last week performed the operation on seven Muslim boys. The youngest was just three months old, and the oldest were about ten.
The office of the Prosecutor General is considering filing charges in a case in which seven Muslim boys in the city of Kuopio had to be hospitalised last year following religiously-mandated circumcisions performed at their homes. In August last year an African-born doctor performed circumcisions according to Muslim teaching on the seven boys, who later required hospital treatment. When the case was made public, police investigated it as one of aggravated assault. One of the investigators now says that factors have come to light which mean that the actions cannot be considered aggravated. The case is being investigated as an ordinary assault. The boys' parents have been interrogated as possible suspects.
The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health and the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities sent a letter to Finnish university hospitals in 2003 to urge them to perform non-medical circumcisions, however some doctors have refused to perform the operation, saying that it violates the physical integrity of the child.
The Central Union for Child Welfare in Finland issued a position statement on male circumcision in 2003. The statement said "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."
A Muslim mother had been charged with assault after she had her four-year-old son circumcised. The trial court ruled that the circumcision of the boy was illegal.
The Ministry of Social Affairs planned to legalise male circumcison in 2008, but the plan was not adopted.
Foreigner.fi (2019) reported non-medical circumcisions of boys are lawful in Finland, subject to the following conditions:
- Non-medical circumcision is not covered by health care or performed in hospitals or health centres.
- Circumcision must be performed by a medical doctor.
- The doctor must perform the circumcision in a clean and sterile environment to prevent infection.
- Pain-killers must be used to prevent pain.
- The attending physician must provide information about after-care.
- The guardians of the boy must provide written informed consent. If there are two guardians, both must sign.
- The boy must also provide his consent if he is of age to do so.
- The guardians must pay for the cost of the circumcision.
- The immigration department estimates that about 400 non-medical circumcisions are performed each year.
Board members of the youth organization of the right-wing party The Finns have created a citizen's initiative petition to the Parliament to reform the law so as to prohibit non-medical circumcision of boys. The petition is initiated as of 21 October 2020, and has half a year, until 21 April 2021, to gather the required 50,000 signatures. Only if that requirement is reached, the initiative will proceed to the parliament. An English translation of the Finnish original has been prepared.
The Parliament of Finland acted on 6 November 2020 to amend the criminal code to more clearly ban female genital mutilation (FGM). In addition, the Committee on Legal Affairs stated with regard to male genital mutilation (circumcision) of boys:
However, in its report, the committee also addressed the non-medical circumcision of boys.
According to it, non-medical circumcision of boys basically satisfies the characteristics of assault.
- However, there is no legislation on the conditions under which non-medical circumcision of boys is allowed and no government proposal has been submitted to Parliament.
In Finland, therefore, there is no specific legal justification for non-medical circumcision of boys, the committee states in its report.
The Committee on Legal Affairs therefore considered that non-medical circumcision of boys also involves regulatory needs that need to be further explored and assessed.
The parliamentary vote dealt with two objections to the non-medical circumcision of boys, which had been made by Christian MP Antero Laukkaunen, supported by Sari Tanus (kd), and MP Sebastian Tynkkynen (ps), supported by Mari Rantanen (ps).
Basic Finns would like the circumcision of boys to be criminalized.
Basic Finnish members of the Law Committee demand that all circumcisions performed on boys for non-medical reasons should be prohibited and punishable under criminal law.
Antero Laukkanen, MP, on the other hand, demanded that the paragraphs and sentences on non-medical circumcision of boys be deleted and that Parliament approve the committee's report as far as the ban on female and female genital mutilation is concerned.
- Sexpo Foundation
- Intakt Norden
- Johan Nyman
- Twelfth International Symposium
- Declaration of Helsinki (2012)
- Tynkkynen, Sebastian (10 February 2021)."Defending the rights of children – why it is not a no-brainer for everyone?", Helsinki Times. Retrieved 10 February 2021.
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- Nordic Association of Children's Ombudsmen (30 September 2013).
Let the boys decide for themselves. Retrieved 3 November 2020. Tuesday, 1 October 2013
- Statement on Non-Therapeutic Circumcision of Boys , Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists. (3 October 2013). Retrieved 3 November 2020.
- Finland // 47 Etats, one Europe
- European Convention on Human Rights , Council of Europe. (1950). Retrieved 4 November 2020.
- Children's right to physical integrity , Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 5 November 2020.
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Male child circumcision, from prosecution to government guidance. Retrieved 6 November 2020.
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- (6 November 2020)."Parliament decided: Genital mutilation of girls must be banned more and more clearly", Teller Report. Retrieved 7 November 2020.