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Surprising Science

Religious Groups Fight to Preserve Circumcision

Religious groups in the Netherlands have opposed a call from the Royal Dutch Medical Association to discourage male circumcision on grounds that it is dangerous and unnecessary. 

What’s the Latest Development?

The association which represents medical doctors in the Netherlands has asked the government to put ending circumcision on its political agenda. The move is opposed by Dutch Jewish and Muslim groups who want to preserve the practice for the sake of religious tradition. The groups also claim that the government’s motives, if it were to take up the cause, would be to ultimately expel Jewish and Muslim minorities from Dutch society. However, some members of each community support a circumcision ban.  

What’s the Big Idea?

Only about a third of the world’s men are circumcised. The World Health Organization says the practice, if done correctly, carries no health risks and can reduce the risk of H.I.V. infection. But Dutch doctors, and others who oppose circumcision, say it violates the rights of the boy, who cannot give his consent to the operation because he is yet incapable of understanding his surroundings. To stem the building controversy, a balance must be found between the rights of religious groups and the rights of children. 

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