German Court Rules Child Can Sue Parent For Circumcision

Posted on Oct 02, 2007

A German regional appeals court recently found the circumcision of an 11-year-old Muslim boy to be unlawful. The decision was made in a Frankfurt am Main appeals court on September 20, 2007. The court found that it was an unlawful personal injury that the boy was circumcised without his approval. The decision could lead the way toward financial compensation for the boy.

The case could have potential repercussions in Germany for the practice of ritual circumcision for those of Islamic and Jewish faith. The court partly suggested that subjecting a child to teasing by other children for looking different was a punishable offense.

In North Carolina, a child 11 years of age could not bring such a suit. The parents have the right to determine whether a child is circumcised.

According to a report by the German ddp press agency, the boy, who is now 14, is planning to file suit against his father for 10,000 Euro (about $14,000). The boy, whose parents are divorced, was reportedly visiting his father during a vacation when his father forced the ritual circumcision. The boy’s mother, whom he lives with, had always rejected circumcision. The traditional age for circumcision of Muslim boys is the elementary school age.

According to the court’s ruling, circumcision can "be important in individual cases for the cultural-religious and physical self-image," whether or not there are health disadvantages involved. The court said the decision about whether or not to be circumcised is "a central right of a person to determine his identity and life." The court said that the amount of damages depends on the extent to which the boy suffered long-term physical or emotional damage.

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