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German intactivist pretends to be an American law expert

Andrew Gross

Published September 3, 2022

Updated September 7, 2022

German intactivist Ulf Dunkel has added another section to his IntactiWiki website page dedicated to me. [1] Several weeks ago he accused me of inflicting trauma on babies. Now he says that I am calling for human rights violations.

In the new section Dunkel made several assertions about American law. He claimed that elective circumcision is a "human rights abuse" or "violation." He claimed that "there is no legal basis for parents to consent to" elective circumcision of minor boys and that circumcision is "illegal by definition." He claimed that "all information on" this site "should be viewed as fundamentally critical, if not as a call for human rights violations."

Human Rights

Dunkel linked to his own article in which he tried to claim that various international human rights treaties, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention of the Rights of the Child (CRC), effectively prohibit elective circumcision of minor boys. The UDHR was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. It is significant that not one nation voted against the treaty. A total of 48 out of 58 UN members voted in favor, including the United States, the Philippines, and seven Middle Eastern nations where circumcision is prevalent. If the treaty were intended to prohibit circumcision, it is inconceivable that it would have passed without dissent. (Even if the UDHR were applicable to circumcision, the treaty is not legally binding in the United States.) [2]

The CRC is similarly situated to the UDHR in that the CRC has been ratified by every country except the United States. It is impossible to conceive that countries where circumcision is popular would have accepted the CRC if it were to prohibit or limit the procedure. [3]

The United Nations, which is the basis for each treaty that Dunkel cited, supports and promotes the circumcision of minors. The UN published a comprehensive 140-page manual on performing infant circumcision and a 48-page manual that describes the various UN programs in support of circumcision. Any notion that the UN is ignorant about the scope of its human rights treaties is ludicrous.

Amnesty International is one of the most respected human rights organizations in the world. Amnesty has fought tirelessly to end female genital mutilation - which is a bona fide human rights violation. [4] Amnesty's silence on the matter of circumcision speaks volumes; the NGO clearly recognizes that circumcision does not constitute a violation of human rights.

Legal Basis

Dunkel offered no evidence to support his assertions that circumcision is "illegal by definition" and that "there is no legal basis for parents to consent to" elective circumcision of minor boys. On the contrary, American law and medicine recognize that circumcision has an array of medical benefits that outweigh the slight risks. [5]

British bioethicist Joseph Mazor observed, "respect for the child's positive right to health [may justify] the violation of his negative right to bodily integrity" - even in cases such as minor cleft palate conditions, where there is no medical necessity to operate and the surgery is performed cosmetic reasons. [6]

If Dunkel were familiar with American legal history, he would realize that respect for parental rights is a cornerstone of American law. As the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000, "The interests of parents in the care, custody, and control of their children is perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests recognized by this Court." [7] In a 1944 case the Court ruled that "the state has a wide range of power for limiting parental freedom and authority in things affecting the child's welfare." [8] Yet Dunkel has failed to explain how the United States - or any state - has restricted the procedure.

Indeed, not only is circumcision presumed legal, but federal and state authorities has endorsed and promoted circumcision for its medical benefits. In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control, a federal agency, stated,

"Health benefits and risks of elective neonatal, pediatric, or adolescent male circumcision should be considered in consultation with medical providers. Ideally, discussions about neonatal circumcision should occur prior to the birth of the child. Ultimately, whether to circumcise a male neonate or child is a decision made by parents or guardians on behalf of their newborn son or dependent child." [9]

The United States also promotes circumcision in Africa and defends circumcision in Europe. In 2011 by unanimous vote the California state legislature passed a law that states, "Male circumcision has a wide array of health and affiliative benefits." [10] Last year the legislature in Denmark - the most foreskin friendly country on earth - rejected a circumcision ban. [11] Dunkel cannot identify one state or nation where circumcision is prohibited by law.

Fundamentally critical?

Dunkel told his readers that "all information on the Circumcision Choice website should be viewed as fundamentally critical, if not as a call for human rights violations." I'm not sure what he means by "fundamentally critical"; perhaps that's a German phrase that is lost in translation. [UPDATE: In response to this article, Dunkel clarified his point, stating that “all information on the Circumcision Choice page should be viewed with suspicion…”] At any rate neither Circumcision Choice nor I endorse any human rights violations. We actually fight against human rights violations. It's likely that our Facebook campaigns have raised more money to fight FGM than all intactivist organizations combined. Circumcision is not a human rights violation - because foreskin is not a human right.

All information on this website should be assessed based on the evidence we provide in our articles. Most articles include footnotes, often with links to the original source materials. On the contrary, it is the IntactiWiki website that should be viewed with suspicion. Our series of articles (which can be accessed below) - and particularly our first article - document some of the hundreds of false, misleading, and heavily biased statements that Dunkel has posted on his website. I invite readers to examine the citations we provide in Circumcision Choice articles and compare them with citations provided (or lacking) in IntactiWiki articles, then determine for themselves which website is more trustworthy.


Ulf Dunkel is a lifelong German and a salesman by trade, with no legal training or expertise. [12] It's true that one could say the same about the author of this article. However Dunkel has little, if any knowledge of the American legal system. I have some knowledge - having spent my entire life in the United States. More importantly, the articles on this website are supported by (and with links to) authoritative legal sources. Dunkel's source is an attorney whose anti-circumcision bias pervades every page of his legal treatise, who claims that the statute of limitations doesn't apply until a circumcised man reads his book, [13] [14] and whose recent legal defeat at the appellate level discredits his legal expertise. [15]


German intactivist claims expertise in American law

[1] Ulf Dunkel; "Andrew Gross"; June 8, 2021

[2] "Universal Declaration of Human Rights"; United Nations; Adopted December 10, 1948

[3] "Convention on the Rights of the Child"; United Nations; Adopted November 20, 1989

[4] "What is female genital mutilation?"; Amnesty International; September 30, 1997

[5] Since the article is specifically about me, and since Dunkel knows that I live in the United States and specifically in the state of California, I refer to the laws of the state and country of my residence.

[6] Joseph Mazor; "The child's interests and the case for the permissibility of male infant circumcision"; BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics; July 2013

[7] Troxel v. Granville :: 530 U.S. 57 (2000)

[8] Prince v. Massachusetts :: 321 U.S. 158 (1944)

[12] "Intact 2022: 16th international Symposium on Child Genital Cutting"; Intact America; August 27-28, 2022. "Ulf Dunkel (born 27 August 1962 in Löningen, Germany) is a German salesman, politician, author, composer, and intactivist..."

[13] Peter W. Adler; "LEGAL EXPERT: 'Infant Circumcision is Child Abuse"; Brother K YouTube channel (6:44-7:03); February 11, 2022

[14] In general a statute of limitations sets the maximum amount of time - from the date of an alleged offense - that a party in a dispute has to initiate legal proceedings. The Massachusetts statute of limitations for fraud is three years. The statute of limitations, however, doesn't begin on the date of the alleged fraud, but on the date that the victim became aware that it happened. "Under the discovery rule, the statute of limitations does not begin to run until the plaintiff discovers or with reasonable diligence should have discovered" the harm. Under Peter Adler's theory of the discovery rule, the statute of limitations for a 50 year-old circumcised man would not begin on the date that the man became aware that he was circumcised (which could have been as early as childhood) but rather on the date that he read Adler's book, which told him that circumcision harmed him.

[15] "Court rejects intactivist lawsuit against Mass. Medicaid"; Circumcision Choice; July 22, 2022


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