Monthly Archives: October 2013

491442-Bielefeldt

Harmful practices against women and girls can never be justified by religion – UN expert – What about boys?

Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief Heiner Bielefeldt. UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras

 http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=46370&Cr=religion&Cr1=#.UnEPW-I4HLc

29 October 2013 – Harmful practices inflicted on women and girls can never be justified in the name of freedom of religion or belief, an independent United Nations human rights expert told a General Assembly committee dealing with social, humanitarian and cultural issues today.

Scarification and Tattooing of children of both genders in Benin

“Countless women are exposed to complex forms of human rights violations based on both religion or belief and their sex,” said Heiner Bielefeldt, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
The expert’s latest report, which he presented to the Third Committee, focused on two human rights, namely freedom of religion or belief and gender equality. “My main message is that there is much more room for synergies between those two rights than people generally assume,” he told reporters after his presentation.

Day of Ashura

“Often you find the assumption that, you go either for religion or for gender emancipation and you can’t really combine the two, which I would find not only wrong but dangerous.”
The expert urged Governments and civil society to look for these synergies, noting that in virtually all traditions, there are persons or groups who use their freedom of religion or belief to promote equality between men and women, often in conjunction with innovative interpretations of religious sources and traditions.

Throwing babies of both genders from tower in India for good luck

In his presentation, Mr. Bielefeldt also called on States to identify and close human rights protection gaps in personal status laws, including denominational family laws, which disproportionately affect women from religious or belief minorities.

Circumcision in Turkey

“The purpose must be to create family law systems that fully respect equality between men and women while at the same time doing justice to the broad reality of religious or belief diversity, including persuasions that go beyond the realm of traditionally recognized religions,” he stated.

Bris Milah (Jewish circumcision) with Metzitzah b’Peh (oral suction) – as practiced by Hassidic Jews

One particularly grave abuse when freedom of religion or belief clashes with gender equality is forced conversion in combination with forced marriage, said Mr. Bielefeldt.

Coptic Christian tattoos

“In a number of countries, women or girls from religious minorities run the risk of being abducted with the purpose of forcing them to convert to mainstream religion – often in connection with an unwanted marriage.”

The expert’s report offers recommendations to, among other things, integrate a gender perspective into programmes designed to protect and promote freedom of religion or belief.

Head Binding

Independent experts or special rapporteurs are appointed by the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council to examine and report back, in an unpaid capacity, on specific human rights themes. They also make annual presentations to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.

Circumcised boys

 What about harmful practices against boys?

cemil-cicek

People publicly opposing the right of physical integrity of boys

Cemil Çiçek, Turkish Parlament speaker: “Turkish Parliament Speaker Cemil Çiçek has called on the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to take a step against PACE’s recent resolution adopting a report against the circumcision of young boys without their consent before the age of 14. ” – Hurriyet Daily News

Turkish Circumcision

Shimon Peres, President of Israel, “Stressing the great importance of circumcision in Jewish and Muslim religious traditions, Peres remarked that male circumcision has been practiced by Jewish communities for thousands of years and is a fundamental element and obligation in Judaism.” – Jerusalem Post

Orthodox Jewish Circumcision including Metzitzah b’Peh – Oral suction

Abe Foxman, Anti-Defamation League: “The resolution’s suggestion for so-called ‘dialogue’ with religious leaders to ‘overcome’ this 4,000-year tradition and to adopt laws requiring a child’s consent, are steps toward de facto prohibition. It is inconceivable that a Jewish community could remain in any country that banned ‘brit mila.’” – Jerusalem Post

 Ronald Lauder, World Jewish Congress president: “the contention that “that the brit mila, which is performed by specially trained circumciser (“mohel”), constitutes an infliction of permanent bodily harm on a baby is wrong and is not supported by any scientific evidence.” – Jerusalem Post

 Benjamin Albalas, President of the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece: “This is a sign of anti-Semitism, in my opinion” – Jerusalem Post

Moshe Kantor, European Jewish Congress President: “Any suggestion to ban circumcision “sends out a terrible message to European Jews that our practices, and therefore our very presence on this continent, is treated with disdain” – Jerusalem Post

 Menachan Margolin, Brussels-based European Jewish Association: “The writers of this report have made a partial examination, and did not take into consideration the opinions of most experts, including from the World Health Organization, about the positive health aspects of circumcision” – Jerusalem Post

Stephan Kramer, leader of the Zentralrat Der Juden: “the motion was “unacceptable” and that it is “completely insane” to compare female genital mutilation with male ritual circumcision” – Jerusalem Post

Frank Furedi: “The main argument used to justify the anti-circumcision crusade is that the aim is to protect children from a dangerous form of physical violation, a horrific act of parental abuse. Implicitly, this charge is about diminishing the status of parental authority, particularly in the domain of moral values.”  – Spiked

Former MK Aryeh Eldad, head of the Professors for a Strong Israel Forum:
“The Council of Europe has found at last the greatest threat to kids in the world,” Eldad said declared. “No, it’s not Assad and his chemical weapons. It’s not Khamenei and his nuclear weapons. They are already considered to be ‘the good guys’ and must’ve already been invited for a party at Catherine Ashton’s place.”
“It’s not even settlements this week,” he continued. “Now what is in their sites – unabashedly – are the foreskins of the Jews in Europe, who insist on circumcising their sons.” http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/172664#.UlxZnRCnfLd

Absorption and Diaspora Committee chairman Yoel Rozvozov (Yesh Atid): “If necessary, we will instruct embassies to hold circumcision ceremonies on their territory, which is Israeli sovereign territory” http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Circumcision-ceremonies-should-be-held-at-Israeli-embassies-in-Europe-328699

 Antje Jackelén, first female archbishop of the Swedish Church:
“We must show respect for the right to be different.”
And then we have to allow Muslims and Jews to circumcise their minor male children, and boys in their religion’s name. http://maukonen.wordpress.com/2013/10/15/nya-arkebiskopen-ar-for-konsstympning/

Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked Online and a columnist for The Australian and The Big Issue: ” The bonkers transformation of even foreskin possession into a human right captures very well how the lingo of human rights is often used to undermine real rights that people have enjoyed for aeons — in this case the age-old religious right to remove newborn babies’ foreskins, which is cleaved to by Jewish communities in particular, and also by Muslims. So-called children’s rights are often just a battering ram against adults’ rights, against the right of communities to instil in their young certain ways of thinking and believing, as summed up in the dangerous notion that the rights of an eight-day-old baby boy should take precedence over the rights of his parents and their community to express their faith as they see fit.” http://www.spectator.co.uk/features/9055801/the-first-cut/

Council-of-Europe

Council of Europe says circumcision violates children’s right to bodily integrity. Reaction of biased media


In a matter of days, Norway, Denmark and Sweden expressed their intention to regulate or ban the circumcision of minors. After individual countries, the Nordic ombudspersons (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland and Iceland), joined by Greenland, agreed to work with their governments to achieve a ban of non-therapeutic circumcision of underage boys.

Dorsal slit during neonate circumcision

This was followed by the council of Europe voting and approving a resolution against practices that violate children’s right to physical integrity (bodily integrity, genital autonomy), such as female genital mutilation, early surgery on intersex children, forced piercing and tattoos, and yes, circumcision of boys in lack of medical necessity.

Infant circumcision (non-therapeutic)

Genital surgeries on intersex children

Underage tattoos on Coptic Christians

Piercings on non-consenting children

Female genital mutilation

Day of Ashura

Pharaonic circumcision, one of the worst forms of female genital mutilation

 Despite the committed legislative and policy measures which have been taken by Council of Europe member States to protect children from physical, sexual and mental violence, they continue to be harmed in many different contexts. One category is particularly worrisome, namely violations of the physical integrity of children which supporters tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite evidently negative life-long consequences in many cases: female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, medical interventions during the early childhood of intersex children as well as the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

The Parliamentary Assembly should urge member States to promote further awareness in their societies of the potential risks for children’s physical and mental health of the above-mentioned procedures. Member States should take legislative and policy measures that help reinforce child protection in this context by giving primary consideration to the best interest of the child.

Council of Europe 

I kept looking for press coverage of this resolution. The day before the debate some Jewish media reported on the upcoming vote. After the approval, there was a day of silence, followed by numerous articles in Jewish sites criticizing it for promoting racism and Antisemitism.

Some blogs, men rights groups, secular groups and atheist groups covered the topic.

The mainstream media remained silent on the topic.

One day later Reuters and Associated Press started reporting, but interesting enough, the articles were not about the resolution or about children’s right to bodily integrity. The articles were about Israel criticizing an anti circumcision resolution by an European organization.

Could this be a strange coincidence? An oversight? Or is there somebody or some organizations interested in manipulating opinion to keep the impression of legitimacy over the genital cutting of boys?

For me this was incredibly enlightening how a biased media can manipulate people’s opinions on different topics. I hope that aware readers will see behind the veil. The culture is changing and even attempts to conceal this do nothing but reveal the clues to those who keep their eyes wide open.

10 reasons German Socialists want Europe to ban circumcision of male children