Helsinki, Finland – A couple who had a British rabbi circumcise their baby boy has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit bodily harm by the Helsinki District Court. The court ordered the parents to pay their child 1,500 euros for pain and suffering.
The court ruled that the procedure met the characteristics of bodily harm as the baby was circumcised without an anasthestic. Furthermore, the rabbi who performed the circumcision is not licensed to practice medicine in Finland.
The prosecutor had sought to convict the couple on grievous bodily harm charges or the conspiracy to commit such harm. The court, however, dropped the charge to conspiracy because the parents did not themselves perform the circumcision.
The rabbi circumcised the week-old boy at Helsinki’s Jewish Community Centre last spring. The baby was later rushed to hospital because of excessive bleeding.
Expert witnesses testified that circumcision complications are very rare. That said, the court ruled that neither the rabbi nor the parents can be perceived as having willfully caused the problems that arose after the operation.
Finland’s Supreme Court ruled in 2008 that male circumcision carried out for religious and social reasons and in a medical manner does not constitute a criminal offence. At the time it pointed out that the circumcision of Muslim boys is an established tradition and an integral part of the identity of Muslim men.