Mother takes GP to court for circumcising her baby without permission

GMC investigates after doctor carries out procedure on infant with consent only from his father

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The Independent Online

A woman is taking a GP to court after he circumcised her baby son without her consent in the first case of its kind.

Campaigners against circumcision on young boys believe this could open the floodgates for waves of complaints about “male genital mutilation” from men who say they were too young to consent to the procedure.

Dr Balvinder Mehat of the Bakersfield Medical Centre in Nottingham carried out the procedure on the baby boy while he was in the care of his father, who is separated from the mother.

The 26-year-old woman said in legal documents that the child was in obvious pain when he was returned to her. 

“He was screaming and crying, but trying to comfort him just disturbed the wound and made it worse," she said. "I could not believe what they had done to him. He has been mutilated and suffered permanent damage.”

Although she complained to Nottinghamshire Police, the force concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution.

The mother also complained to doctors’ watchdog, the General Medical Council (GMC), which is carrying out an investigation.

Supported by legal aid, the mother is now bringing a private prosecution against Dr Mehat for damages.

She is being represented by human rights lawyer Saimo Chahal QC, who defended Michael Sandford, the Autistic Briton who was recently released from jail after he tried to grab a policeman’s gun at a Donald Trump rally. 

Ms Chahal said: “This mother did not consent to her son undergoing the circumcision procedure, which could constitute a criminal offence. While some people with religious beliefs see circumcision as normal, there are others who see it as an unnecessary assault which can be physically and psychologically harmful.”

The religion of the boy and the family is unknown in this case, but circumcision is widely practised in both the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

The British Medical Association is revising its ethical guidelines on circumcision, which currently state: "It is for society to decide what limits should be imposed on parental choice." 

A new document is expected to be published sometime in the next year, with a growing clamour from campaigners for stricter controls or a ban on the procedure altogether.

The woman’s case is supported by the pressure group, Men Do Complain. Spokesman Tim Alford said there is growing awareness that the procedure amounts to “male genital mutilation”.

David Smith of pressure group Genital Autonomy said: “We’re hoping the case will open the floodgates for other complaints and a clarification that circumcision of non-consenting children is a human right’s abuse.”

In the US, a group of 104 middle-aged men launched an ongoing $50m (£38m) class-action lawsuit against their parents and the American Medical Association over their circumcisions.

Dr Balvinder Mehat has been contacted by The Independent for comment, but none had arrived at the time of publication.