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Norway is a constitutional monarchy. The parliament is called the Storting. It has 169 seats.

Nordic view of non-therapeutic circumcision of boys

Norway is a Nordic nation in Northern Europe. Like other Nordic nations, the people abhor child circumcision.

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.[1] Anne Lindboe, a paediatrician, is the Children's Ombudsman for Norway. Lindboe believes that boys should decide for themselves if they wish to be circumcised.[2]

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.[3]

The medical doctors at Sørland Hospital in Kristiansand, Southern Norway have all refused to perform circumcisions on boys, citing reasons of conscience.[4]

Human rights

Council of Europe

Norway became a founding member of the Council of Europe on 5 May 1949.[5] As a member of the Council of Europe, Norway is subject to the European Convention on Human Rights (1950)[6] 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'[7] 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.[8]

The resolution includes other topics such as female genital mutilation, male circumcision for religious reasons, and 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.


Norway ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in 1972.

Article two

Article 2(1) of that covenant provides:

1. Each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its Jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

Some rights recognized by the Covenant relevant to the non-therapeutic circumcision of male children are:

Article seven

Degrading treatment

Article nine

Security of person

Article twenty-four

Every child shall have, without any discrimination as to race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property or birth, the right to such measures of protection as are required by his status as a minor, on the part of his family, society and the State.

Norway has covenanted to provide protection of these rights.[9]

Norway has not complied with its pledge with regard to protection of the rights of boys which are violated by non-therapeutic child circumcision.


Norway has been a state-party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (CRC) since 1991.

Article two provides in part:

1. States Parties shall respect and ensure the rights set forth in the present Convention to each child within their jurisdiction without discrimination of any kind, irrespective of the child's or his or her parent's or legal guardian's race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national, ethnic or social origin, property, disability, birth or other status.[10]

This means that all children, male and female, and regardless of parental religious views, shall enjoy the same human rights.

Article twelve

Article twelve provides:

1. States Parties shall assure to the child who is capable of forming his or her own views the right to express those views freely in all matters affecting the child, the views of the child being given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child.

2. For this purpose, the child shall in particular be provided the opportunity to be heard in any judicial and administrative proceedings affecting the child, either directly, or through a representative or an appropriate body, in a manner consistent with the procedural rules of national law.[10]

This means, with application to non-therapeutic circumcision, that the child, who is capable of expressing an opinion, shall have his views considered.

Article fourteen

Article fourteen provides:

1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

3. Freedom to manifest one's religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.[10]

This means that a child may express his or her religious views, even though those views may differ from those of his or her parents. This includes views related to male or female circumcision.

Article nineteen

Article nineteen provides:

1. States Parties shall take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to protect the child from all forms of physical or mental violence, injury or abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse, while in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.

2. Such protective measures should, as appropriate, include effective procedures for the establishment of social programmes to provide necessary support for the child and for those who have the care of the child, as well as for other forms of prevention and for identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up of instances of child maltreatment described heretofore, and, as appropriate, for judicial involvement.[10]

Non-therapeutic male circumcision of male children have both been shown to cause great physical harm in the loss of the foreskin and its many protective, immunological, sexual, and sensory physiological functions. We now know that male circumcision causes sexual, and mental harm to its victims. Furthermore, the sexual and mental harm of non-therapeutic male circumcision is now well documented.

States, which are parties to this Convention, have a duty to protect children from such harm.

Article twenty-four

Article twenty-four has several paragraphs. Paragraph three is of special importance to male non-therapeutic circumcision which is a traditional practice that dates back to before the advent of recorded history.

Paragraph three provides:

3. States Parties shall take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children.[10]

Male circumcision always results in the permanent and irreversible loss of the foreskin, a structure with protective, immunological, sexual, and sensory functions. The loss of the protective and immunological functions are harmful to physical health. The loss of the sensory and sexual functions are harmful to [sexual] and mental health. We have long known that non-therapeutic circumcision of children sometimes results in death. Douglas Gairdner (1949) reported circumcision caused nineteen deaths in England and Wales in 1946.[11] Bollinger (2010) estimated 117 deaths per year in the United States.[12]

Norway has not fulfilled its several promises to protect the human rights of boys.

Circumcision death in Norway

A two-week-old boy died of complications of circumcision after he was circumcised in a doctor's office on the east side of Oslo. County medical officer, Peter Schou, confirms that the baby died of complications following circumcision. "We have created a formal supervision against two unnamed doctors," said Schou.[13]

Infant circumcision is a non-theraputic amputation of the multi-functional foreskin that has no medical benefit.

Recent developments

Astrid Grydeland Ersvik, director of the Norwegian Nurses Association, said the association urged the government to ban [non-therapeutic] circumcision of boys under 15-16 years of age.[14]

The Norwegian Health Service (2014) does not provide non-therapeutic male circumcision.[15]

The Progress Party, at a party meeting, voted to support banning non-therapeutic circumcision of boys under 16.[16]

Siv Jensen, the leader of the Progress Party and Finance Minister, said a ban on circumcision will not happen on my watch.[17]

See also


  1. REFweb Nordic Association of Children's Ombudsmen (30 September 2013). Let the boys decide for themselves. Retrieved 5 October 2020.[] Tuesday, 1 October 2013
  2. REFweb Anne Lindboe. Retrieved 14 February 2021.
  3. REFdocument Statement on Non-Therapeutic Circumcision of Boys PDF, Nordic Association of Clinical Sexologists. (3 October 2013). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  4. REFnews Faull, Solrun F. (30 August 2016)."Hospital doctors in Southern Norway will not circumcise boys".
  5. REFweb Norway // 47 States, one Europe. Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  6. REFdocument European Convention on Human Rights PDF, Council of Europe. (1950). Retrieved 4 October 2020.
  7. REFdocument Children's right to physical integrity PDF, Parliamentary Assembly. (1 October 2013). Retrieved 5 November 2020.
  8. REFbook 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 18 January 2021.
  9. REFdocument International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights PDF, United Nations. (1966). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  10. a b c d e REFdocument Convention on the Rights of the Child PDF, United Nations. (20 November 1989). Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  11. REFjournal Gairdner DMT. The fate of the foreskin: a study of circumcision. British Medical Journal. 1949; 2(4642): 1433-7. PMID. PMC. DOI. Retrieved 28 October 2019.
  12. REFjournal Bollinger D, Boy's Health Advisory. Lost Boys: An Estimate of U.S. Circumcision-Related Infant Deaths. Thymos: Journal of Boyhood Studies. 26 April 2010; 4(1): 78-90. DOI. Retrieved 5 October 2020.
  13. REFweb (May 2012). 2 Week Old Baby Dies From Circumcision in Norway. Retrieved 11 March 2021.
  14. REFnews (21 March 2014)."Norwegian nurses push to ban ritual circumcision", The Times of Israel. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  15. REFnews (30 April 2014)."Male circumcision row in secular Norway", Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 13 February 2021.
  16. REFnews Revesz, Rachael (8 July 2017)."Norwegian ruling party votes to ban circumcision for men under 16 years old", The Independent. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  17. REFnews Zieve, Tamara (27 June 2017)."Norwegian minister: Circumcision ban won’t happen under my watch", Tho Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 16 February 2021.