The Netherlands, also known informally as Holland, and more properly as The Kingdom of the Netherlands. The name of the country in Dutch is Nederland. The people are the Dutch and the language spoken is also Dutch. The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a constitutional monarchy situated in Europe. It is bordered south by Belgium, east by Germany and northwest by the North Sea. The nation includes three islands in the Caribbean Sea.
The Netherlands have a population of about 18,000,000 of which about 5 percent are Muslim migrants.
The Netherlands are strong supporters of human rights.
The Netherlands, unlike the English-speaking nations, have never practiced circumcision of boys. Circumcision is rare in Holland except among ethnic minorities.
Chapter One of the national constitution (2008) provides fundamental rights. Article 1 prohibits discrimination on any grounds including religious, race, and sex. Article 11 provides in part: "everyone shall have the right to inviolability of his person".
United Nations multi-lateral human rights treaties
The Netherlands signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 25 June 1969 and formally ratified the ICCPR treaty on 20 May 1978. Article 2 of the ICCPR requires the Netherlands to apply and enforce the provisions of the ICCPR within its territory. See ICCPR: Application of the ICCPR to non-therapeutic circumcision of children for detailed information on the rights applicable to non-therapeutic circumcision of children.
The Netherlands signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on 26 January 1990 an formally ratified the CRC treaty on 6 February 1995. Article 2 of the CRC require the Netherlands to respect and ensure the rights specified in the CRC to each child within its jurisdiction. See Application of the CRC to non-therapeutic circumcision of children for detailed information on the rights applicable to non-therapeutic circumcision of children.
Council of Europe
The Netherlands became a founder-member of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1949 and therefore subject to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950). Under that Convention the Netherlands may be sued in the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg) for alleged human rights violations.
Certain parts of the Convention seem applicable to the non-therapeutic circumcision of minor boys:
- Article 3: Freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment
- Article 5: Everyone has a right to liberty and security of person.
- Article 8: Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
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.
Netherlands Institute of Human Rights
The Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM) is a part of the University of Utrecht School of Law. SIM (1998) issued a very strong statement against child circumcision. The statement concluded in part:
The right to physical integrity has two components: protection against violation of and offenses against the body by others, thus from outside, and the right to determine over one's own body, the right to self-determination. The right to physical integrity is one of the fundamental civil rights. It is a right to "freedom." The government should therefore refrain from interference. However, the government also has a relevant duty of care, namely the stimulation of a climate in which civil rights can achieve a substantive form.
After Ayaan Hirsi Ali asked if male circumcision could be made illegal, Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner claimed that circumcision was not traumatic and he saw no reason to make it illegal, however strong evidence exists that child circumcision is traumatic.
When it was learned in 2004 that Dutch Medicare was paying for religious circumcision rather than medical circumcision, the Health Ministry discontinued payments for circumcision. It was learned that 90 percent of the circumcisions covered by Dutch national health insurance was for religious circumcision rather than medical circumcision. Reportedly, about 17,000 circumcisions were carried out per year. It is likely that figure has been reduced now that the Health Ministry has ceased government support.
The Royal Dutch Medical Association (KNMG) (2010) issued a very strong statement against the practice of non-therapeutic child circumcision. The statement cites the lack of any therapeutic or prophylactic value. It also cited the certain harms:
Contrary to what is often thought, circumcision entails the risk of medical and psychological complications. The most common complications are bleeding, infections, meatus stenosis (narrowing of the urethra) and panic attacks. Partial or complete penis amputations as a result of complications following circumcisions have also been reported, as have psychological problems as a result of the circumcision.
It also takes a strong position on the human rights violations inherent in non-therapeutic circumcision of minors, including the right to self-determination and the right to physical integrity. the statement has been endorsed by seven specialty medical organisations.
Circumcision in the news
Wouter van Erkel and Koen Sijtsema said a ban on circumcision should be put on the political agenda. They said beween 10,000 and 15,000 boys are circumcised every year for the parent's religious views. They stated:
Freedom of religion implies that every person is free to adhere to any religion they like. That freedom must under no circumstances include the infliction of a religious, permanent marker on another person. Then one person’s freedom curtails the freedom of another.
They propose to gradually increase the minimum age for circumcision and to require parents to register a child for circumcision. A ban would be imposed later.
Non-therapeutic circumcision of boys has not received financial support from the government in the Netherlands since 2004. Parents in the Netherlands who want to have a boy circumcised are free to do so, but must pay out-of-pocket for the service.
The government has ratified treaties that require protection of the children's rights which are offended by non-therapeutic child circumcision, however boys are not protected while girls receive protection. This clearly is discrimination on the basis of gender and a general failure to support human rights treaty obligations. The government has failed to exercise its duty to protect and care for the physical integrity of boys.
- Anonymous (16 June 2010).
Netherlands medical authorities condemn circumcision, Circumcision Information Australia. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
- The Constitution of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 2008 , Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations. (2018). Retrieved 19 September 2021.
Ratification Status for United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, https://tbinternet.ohchr.org, UN Treaty Body Database. Retrieved 18 September 2021.
- Children's right to physical integrity , Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 17 September 2021.
- Aktor M (2016):
24, in: Whose Rights? The Danish Debate on Ritual Infant Male Circumcision as a Human Rights Issue. Work: Contemporary Views on Comparative Religion: In Celebration of Tim Jensen's 65th Birthday. Peter Antes, Armin W. Geertz, Mikael Rothstein (ed.). Sheffield: Equinox Publishing. Pp. 311-24. ISBN 9781781791394. Retrieved 12 September 2021.
- Smith J (1998): Male Circumcision and the Rights of the Child. Work: To Baehr in Our Minds: Essays in Human Rights from the Heart of the Netherlands (SIM Special No. 21). Mielle Bulterman, Aart Hendriks and Jacqueline Smith (eds.). Utrecht: Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM). Pp. 465-98. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
- Anonymous (4 October 2004)."Dutch MP wants ban on male circumcision", Radio Hilversum. Retrieved 17 September 2021. "The MP, who is often in the news for her controversial views on integration, says circumcision can have long-term damaging effects."
- Anonymous (7 October 2004)."Justice Minister against outlawing circumcision", Radio Netherlands. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
- Taddio A, Katz J, Ilersich AL, Gideon K. Effect of neonatal circumcision on pain response during subsequent routine vaccination. Lancet. 1 March 1997; 342(9052): 599-603. PMID. DOI. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
- Anonymous (17 December 2004)."Unkind cut: Dutch medicare halts coverage for male circumcision", Canadian Press. Retrieved 16 September 2021.
- Kruseman, Arie Nieuwenhuijzen: Non-therapeutic circumcision of male minors , Royal Dutch Medical Association. (27 May 2010). Retrieved 17 September 2021.
- van Erke, Wouter / Koen Sijtsema (19 June 2017)."Male circumcision is ‘violation of bodily integrity’ and should be banned", Dutchnews.nl, NRC. Retrieved 20 September 2021.