The demand for male circumcision is rising in Finland, national broadcaster Yle reported, citing growth in the Muslim population as one of the main reasons.
Previously, adherents of Islam used to travel abroad for this operation, as the Union of Physicians opposes it and public hospitals still refuse to perform it. Today, however, this niche is becoming increasingly assumed by private enterprises catering to Muslims' religious needs.
The private medical center Medfin is among those rushing to fill the gap. At present, the center performs about 100 circumcisions on both boys and grown men a year — this despite that the service is not advertised anywhere.
Valeria Dansson, the head of the medical company, believes the reason for the surge is the rising number of immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.
"If both parents are Muslims who came to Finland from another country, or in case of a mixed family, where one of the parents professes Islam, the child is most often circumcised," Dansson said.
According to her, the clientele's response has mostly been favorable, as the market for such services is only nascent in Finland, and this spares them the necessity of traveling to their respective home countries or neighboring Sweden for the operation.
The view that medical professionals who are willing to carry out a circumcision are hard to find is shared by Finnish imams and mosque-goers. According to the Helsinki Shia community's imam Abbas Bahmanpur, Muslims often have to resort to extreme measures, such as seeking this service in other countries.
"Most go abroad, to Sweden, Denmark or the UK, others to the Middle East," Bahmanpur said.
Male circumcision is a fairly common practice in parts of the world, but is mostly administered in Muslim countries, Israel, and among the Jewish diaspora. The US ranks in the top when it comes to elective non-religious circumcision, with a prevalence estimated at 75 percent. Unlike female genital mutilation (FGM), male circumcision is completely legal in Finland. However, the national Union of Physicians opposes it, and circumcision is not carried out at public medical institutions.
"Considering the growing demand, it would only do good if circumcision could be carried out under safe hospital conditions," Bahmanpur argued.
According to him, a ban currently considered by individual members of the Finnish establishment would not deter local Muslims from giving up the centuries-old tradition, but rather force them to travel abroad.
Finland, a nation of 5.5 million, is estimated to have a Muslim community of 60,000.