Tasmania Law Reform Institute: Inquiry into Non-therapeutic Circumcision of Male Minors

38 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2013

Date Written: July 30, 2009


Circumcision of minors, unless necessary to cure an injury, deformity or disease that cannot be treated in any other way, is already (technically) illegal under both the common law and numerous specific provisions of Tasmanian laws covering assault, injury, wounding, mistreatment etc. Since social custom (as the Queensland Law Reform Commission observed in 1993) tolerates and to some extent approves of the practice, however, we do not see prosecutions being launched, and there have been very few civil suits for damages. That being the case it is difficult to imagine that the government would ever contemplate legislation even half as strong as the sections of the criminal code prohibiting female genital mutilation, or at least not until circumcision of males is generally regarded with a similar degree of revulsion. It follows that the most promising way to protect boys from unnecessary and unwanted surgery is by tighter regulation of circumcision, public education and legal reform. These would take the form of (1) much stricter regulation of the procedure by the medical professional and regulatory bodies, backed up by specific legislation if necessary; (2) public education to counteract the scaremongering of alarmist circumcision promoters and opportunistic medical practitioners; and (3) making it easier (by reforms to legislation covering limitations and torts) for aggrieved men who feel harmed by circumcision in infancy or childhood to sue those responsible.

Keywords: Circumcision, children’s rights, child health, medical ethics, human rights, parental authority, public health, Australia, Tasmania

Suggested Citation

Darby, Robert, Tasmania Law Reform Institute: Inquiry into Non-therapeutic Circumcision of Male Minors (July 30, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2276538 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2276538

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