Judge questions legality of child ear-piercing

A civil court in Berlin has called for clarification about whether ear-piercing of youngsters constitutes bodily harm after parents of a three-year-old girl sued a practitioner.

Judge questions legality of child ear-piercing
Physical harm or rite of passage? Photo: DPA

The judge in the case said there was a need to establish the legal situation in light of the recent Cologne court ruling that circumcision of a child on religious grounds was a punishable offense.

The parents of the girl brought a civil action against the owner of the studio after complications arose following the piercing.

As a present for her third birthday at the end of October, the girl had wanted her ears pierced, the German newspaper Bild reported. The parents obliged, taking her along to a Berlin tattoo studio.

Afterwards, it emerged that the right ear had not been punctured in the right place, and the child began to cry in pain. Three days later, when she was taken to the doctor, the girl was still showing signs of a traumatic reaction.

In a legal ruling, the judge questioned the legality of what the parents had done, saying it was doubtful whether the decision to allow the piercing had been in the child’s interest.

The fact that the studio had not refused to carry out the piercing might also constitute an offense, the judge said. The salon owner agreed to pay €70 in damages claimed by the parents. It is thought the case may now be handed over to prosecutors.

President of the German Association of Paediatricians called for a ban of ear piercing of youngsters in the Chemnitz Freie Presse newspaper.

“Any encroachment on the healthy body of a child is problematic. It could lead to severe inflammation. Ear-piercing, tattooing and other forms of piercing, from our point of view, constitute bodily harm.”

The Cologne circumcision case caused a stir internationally, prompting criticism from Jewish and Muslim organisations, who claimed it was an attack on religious freedom.

DPA/The Local/rc

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