Dutch to investigate circumcisions by religious figures without medical training

Tools for a circumcision
Tools for a circumcisionPhoto: natushm/DepositPhotos

The Healthcare Inspectorate will look into circumcisions performed by people with no medical training. Every year in the Netherlands, 10 to 15 thousand Jewish and Muslim boys are circumcised by non-doctors for religious reasons, Nieuwsuur reports based on its own investigation.

Circumcision by a non-medical professional is against the law in the Netherlands. "Health law stipulates that if you remove tissue during an operation, it falls under the category of reserved actions for doctors, regardless of what purpose you do it for", professor of Health Law Jaap Sijmons said to Nieuwsuur. "Wether you do it for therapeutic, cosmetic or religious reasons, that makes no difference. It is tolerated because it may be sensitive, but there are also complications that are sometimes not minor."

The Ministry of Public Health, Welfare and Sports confirmed to the news program that the law stipulates that only doctors are allowed to perform circumcisions independently. And while the Ministry has not yet intervened in the daily practice of boys being circumcised by non-doctors, the Ministry also denies that it has a tolerance policy on this front, according to the program. "That anyone should be allowed to perform circumcision because circumcision falls under religious freedom or because he is competent, is not true", the Ministry said. 

According to a spokesperson for the Healthcare Inspectorate, the Inspectorate has not intervened because "in the past five years we have not received any reports of circumcisions where something went wrong, which were performed by someone without a BIG registration". For that reason, the Inspectorate could not tell Nieuwsuur how many times a non-doctor circumcision went wrong. For circumcisions performed by doctors, there were eight reports of injury afterwards in the past five years.

The Inspectorate told Nieuwsuur that it will enter into discussions with people performing circumcisions without medical training.