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'I Never Gave Consent': UK Campaigner Welcomes Efforts to Ban Male Circumcision

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) - the removal of the clitoris - has been made unlawful in most countries. But male circumcision, which has been a ritual among the Jewish and Muslim communities in particular, remains untouched by laws. Sputnik spoke to Richard Duncker, a "circumcision victim turned activist", who welcomed Iceland's plan to ban it.

Religious groups have condemned a bill in Iceland's parliament that would ban circumcision for non-medical reasons. 

Under the law anyone guilty of "removing part or all of the [child's] sexual organs" could go to jail for up to six years.

Jewish and Muslim leaders however have called it an attack on religious freedom. 

Iceland would be the first European country to ban the procedure but already Norway has hinted it might follow suit.

Campaigners in Britain have welcomed Iceland's stance and say it is hypocritical to prevent Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) but do nothing to stop baby boys being circumcised.

'Political Hot Potato'

Richard Duncker, founder of the anti-circumcision pressure group Men Do Complain, said it could be argued the legislation which banned FGM in the UK was discriminatory against males.

Mr. Duncker, who described himself as a "victim turned activist" claimed no British politicians had put their heads above the parapet and spoken out against male circumcision because it was a "hot potato" because of the hostility of Jewish and Muslim voters.

Mr. Duncker, who is 68, set up Men Do Complain in 2010 after realizing he was not alone in being "troubled" by his own circumcision, which happened when he was a week old.

​"It was the advent of the internet that made me realize that I wasn't mad and I wasn't alone," Mr. Duncker told Sputnik.

"It is a difficult thing for men to complain because they have to first recognize that their genitals have been diminished in some way. They have to question their parents' decision-making, they have to disagree with their peers or possibly their cultural leaders and they have to disagree with any medical people and if they do complain they face ridicule and frank disbelief by anybody who should actually be taking the problem seriously," Mr. Duncker told Sputnik.

'No Possibility of Reversal'

"This is a procedure for which there is no remedy whatsoever and I think we need to be exceedingly careful when we are inflicting a procedure with absolutely no possibility of reversal on a child who cannot give their consent," Mr. Duncker told Sputnik.

He said parents were not allowed to tattoo their own children and Jehovah's Witnesses who did not want their children to have blood transfusions were overruled by doctors.

​But he said when it came to circumcision the law seemed to just waive the fact the child was incapable of consenting.

"It beggars belief that we can still tolerate having what is healthy, specialized tissue removed from healthy children with no medical reason," Mr. Duncker told Sputnik.

He pointed out that under Article 9 of the Human Rights Act, which covers the right to religious freedom, that right did not override somebody's else right, even if it was a parent's own child.

'Irreplaceable' Nerves in the Foreskin

Mr. Duncker said the foreskin contained a number of nerves which were "irreplaceable" and there had been considerable research carried out which showed a loss of genital sensitivity during the sexual act among circumcised men.   

​He welcomed the moves to outlaw the practise in Iceland.

"What they are simply doing in Iceland is proposing changing the FGM legislation so that the wording is changed from 'girl' to 'child'. We don't have separate male or female manslaughter charges. There is no special protection for women in any other case. The FGM legislation is actually discriminatory and if it was the other way round women would be the first to complain," Mr. Duncker told Sputnik.

"All we are saying is that the whole process should be delayed by 6,570 days, which is roughly 18 years," said Mr. Duncker, who said he doubted most adult men would opt for circumcision.

The views and opinions expressed by Richard Duncker are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.