An Italian couple is under investigation after authorities say they performed a home circumcision on their 5-month-old son, causing the boy’s death.
The boy, whose parents are of Ghanian origin, was in critical condition when he was taken Friday night to a hospital in Scandiano in the province of Reggio Emilia, Italy’s ANSA news agency reported. He died overnight.
This weekend’s death is not the first of a child who underwent an illegal circumcision in Italy. The BBC reported that a 2-year-old boy bled to death in December after undergoing a failed circumcision at a migrant center in the Roman suburb of Monterotondo.
The boy’s twin brother underwent the same surgery but survived after a stint in the intensive care unit.
In the December case, a 66-year-old man was charged with murder in the toddler’s death, the BBC reported.
The 2-year-old and his brother were born in Italy, but their parents were from Nigeria, according to the BBC. The man charged with killing the boy is an American of Libyan heritage.
The BBC reported that circumcision is unavailable in public health institutions. Italy’s Roman Catholic majority does not practice circumcision, but many of the country’s Muslim immigrants do.
Private clinics will perform the procedure, but the surgery can be costly.
There are people willing to circumcise children for a fraction of the cost, the news agency reported.
In the December case, the procedure was performed at a refugee center run by the Monterotondo council and nonprofit group Arci.
Arci officials condemned the incident in a Facebook post, in which they said in 2018, there should be “no sorcerers and midwives.”
“The Monterotondo tragedy leaves the whole of Arci, starting with our Arci workers in Rome, sorrowful and upset,” the post read, as translated from Italian.
One commenter argued for a near-complete ban on circumcision.
“Circumcision should be considered a sexual mutilation, apart from the few cases in which it is appropriate for medical reasons, and therefore prohibited and punished if practiced,” the woman, Claudia Lanzi, wrote.
Another woman, Barbara Pilati, asked how it is mutilation if it causes no damage.
“It is made to children who cannot express their opinion,” Lanzi responded.
ANSA reported that between 4,000 and 5,000 immigrant children undergo circumcisions in Italy each year. About 35 percent of those procedures are done illegally.
Yassine Lafram, who heads the Bologna area’s Islamic community, condemned the fatal procedure on the infant Monday.
“We learn of the terrible news of the death of a 5-month-old baby following an illegal circumcision with dismay,” Lafram told ANSA. “It’s a death that could certainly have been avoided and pains us deeply.”