Woman whose marriage was ruined by circumcision

Male circumcision: the issue that ended my marriage

I was in my kitchen getting my children ready for the school run when my phone pinged. I glanced at my friend’s message: “Maybe of interest...!” I paused on seeing the news report she’d sent – a High Court ruling against a Muslim father’s wish that his two young sons be circumcised. The children in the case were to decide for themselves when they were old enough to do so. I felt stunned. Like the mother in the case, I’m from the UK, with a background in which male circumcision is no longer routine. Like the father, my ex-partner is Muslim and wished to have our sons circumcised according to his cultural and religious beliefs. The boys in the High Court case were a similar age to our sons, too – mine are now seven and five. The court’s decision felt extremely close to home.

I took the children to school. On returning home, I sat down to re-read the all-too-brief news report. I cried tears of sadness, relief and remaining fears. While our family has managed to avoid taking our conflict over circumcision to court, the issue has been a major factor in the break-up of our marriage. It also remains alive for us as we negotiate the upbringing of our children. It is something I never imagined would affect me – I’m not Jewish or Muslim and think most parents in the UK don’t for a moment consider circumcising their sons. When you know it is not medically necessary, that it is painful and that there is no other reason to, why would you?

Read more at The Observer: Male circumcision: the issue that ended my marriage