In the Best Interest of the Child: Should Exception be Made for Infant Male Circumcision on Religious Grounds?
59 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2013
Date Written: April 25, 2012
It has been suggested that where circumcision is carried out for religious reasons as opposed to cultural, traditional and other reasons, it is not, and should not be unlawful. Viewed from the point of view of the child, it is argued, first, that circumcision has lost its religious significance and that it is sustained only by habit. Second, assuming that there is still some genuinely held religious belief behind the practice, such belief cannot and should not be used to legitimate what may otherwise be a crime. However, the challenge posed by the amorphous concept of the best interests of the child which may, after all, not be met by a legal prohibition of, or prosecution for infant circumcision is acknowledged. Nevertheless, several approaches exist which the law might adopt to protect the best interests of the child. Ultimately, the paper concludes that a child is better left to decide himself, upon attaining maturity, if he wants to be genitally altered, a conclusion which accords with a growing position in the literature.
Keywords: Best interest of a child, Infant Circumcision, Religious Rights, Canadian Charter of Rights
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