Circumcision Symposium Featured

2017 Penn JIL Online Symposium: Circumcision in Germany

Male circumcision has deep cultural and religious roots, meaning that many governments permit the practice as part of the free exercise of religion. But because parents often circumcise their sons as infants, the procedure implicates boys’ autonomy interests as well.

A German court case criminalizing the practice — and the subsequent legislative override of the ruling — subjected ritual circumcision and the competing concerns around it to public scrutiny and political controversy. Professor Stephen Munzer argued that secularization, cultural factors, and anti-minority sentiment factored into this court decision and subsequent controversy in his article Secularization, Anti-Minority Sentiment, and Cultural Norms in the German Circumcision Controversy, published in Volume 37 of our Journal.

This article catalyzed continuing discussion about the court case and male ritual circumcision more generally, leading to this collection of responses by Professor Melanie Adrian, Professor Debra DeLaet, Mr. Brian Earp, and Dr. Robert Darby — who are all respected scholars in this field — and to another piece by Professor Munzer responding to their critiques. The University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law and JIL Online are grateful to have the opportunity to serve as a forum for continued dialogue on this subject and other important legal, moral, and ethical issues.

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