Your Decision

Circumcision and FGM

Circumcision of Boys*

Male circumcision is the partial or complete removal of the foreskin. Circumcision is generally performed for cultural or religious reasons and is the most frequently performed physical procedure worldwide. Since December 2012 Germany has had a law governing the circumcision of boys for religious reasons.

§ 1631d BGB leaves it up to the parents to decide whether to circumcise their son* as this allows them to exercise their right to educate their offspring.

Circumcision of boys* is therefore regulated under the law on parental custody. Boys* may also be circumcised in Germany even if it is not absolutely necessary for medical reasons. It must be performed according to the rules of medical practice. Persons from a religious community can perform a circumcision in the first six months of the male infant’s life as long as they are specially trained to do so and have skills comparable with that of a doctor. Circumcision of boys* is a controversial issue in Germany. For some it is an important religious ritual while for others it is a violation of the child’s integrity.

Female Genital Mutilation

There are two terms used in practice: FGM (Female Genital Mutilation- genital mutilation) and FGC (Female Genital Cutting - genital circumcision or girl circumcision). The abbreviation FGM/C (Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting) is now often used. Many affected women* feel belittled by the term mutilation, therefore the "neutral" word circumcision should be used with those affected, even if this term represents an irresponsible trivialization. 

Female Genital Mutilation / Cutting (FGM/C) is the partial or complete removal, damage or mutilation of the external female genital organs.

FGM/C is much more common in African and Asian countries than in Germany. According to estimates by TERRE DES FEMMES, approximately 18.000 girls* in Germany (as of September 2022) are at acute risk of illegal mutilation in Germany or their home country. Since 2013, there has been a separate provision punishing female genital mutilation (§ 226a StGB).

Under this provision punishment is more severe than before. FGM/C is also punishable abroad under German law (§§ 226a, 5 StGB). This means that anyone wishing to travel abroad with girls* or women*, with the purpose of having genital mutilation carried out there, risks having their passport withdrawn. The aim of this measure is to prevent the so-called “summer holiday FGMs”. It is also important to the legislator that FGM/C be combated and that the public become more aware of this issue.