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Hospital vows to introduce stricter practice

Zurich Children's Hospital carries out one to two circumcisions every month imagepoint

Zurich University Children’s Hospital says it is resuming the practice of circumcising boys. The hospital introduced a five-week moratorium at the beginning of July following a controversial ruling by a German court.

This content was published on August 10, 2012 - 16:49
swissinfo.ch and agencies

The German decision, which does not apply to Switzerland, prompted debate in several other Swiss hospitals and among legal experts.

Hospital officials on Friday announced that in the future every male circumcision for religious purposes will be made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the health of the boy.

The hospital will also try to receive the boy’s consent and the approval of both of his parents for the surgery.

“The Zurich Children’s Hospital is aware that the circumcision of boys is part of an old and widely spread tradition, be it for religious or social reasons,” a statement said.

It is up to parliament to decide whether the removal of the foreskin from the male sexual organ should be a punishable offence, in line with a ban of female circumcision, according to officials.

The hospital management said the decision to resume the practice was taken following consultations with internal and external ethics experts.

Both the Jewish and Muslim communities for whom circumcision is mainly a religious ritual have welcomed Friday’s decision to resume the practice, while placing special emphasis on the wellbeing of the boy.

The Swiss Federation of Jewish Communities as well as the Association of Islamic Organisations in Zurich described the move by the Children’s Hospital as good and reasonable.

The hospital says it carries out one or two circumcisions for non-medical reasons per month.

The decision by a court in the German city of Cologne in late June found circumcisions for religious purposes amounted to willful bodily harm.

Religious circumcision

Jewish religious practice requires boys to be circumcised from eight days old. For Jews, the practice is considered a commandment from God.

In Islam, circumcision is widely practiced although at what age varies among the different branches of the religion. It is attributed to the teachings of both the Prophets Abraham and Mohammed although it is not mentioned in the Koran. 

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