STOP Intersex Genital Mutilations in Children's Clinics!

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“Harmful Practice”: Both Switzerland and the Netherlands reprimanded by UN-CEDAW for Intersex Genital Mutilations! on FacebookDuring its 65th Session the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) examined Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM) in Switzerland and in the Netherlands.

Today the Committee issued stern reprimands to both countries, explicitly recognising “harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, intersex genital mutilation, child marriage and forced marriage”:

>>> Switzerland: CEDAW/C/CHE/CO/4-5, on intersex: paras 24-25, 38-39 (PDF)
>>> Netherlands:
CEDAW/C/NLD/CO/6, on intersex: paras 21-22, 23-24 (PDF) warmly welcomes these clear verdicts, marking
  • 20 UN reprimands for IGM practices so far
already the 3rd reprimand for Switzerland
the 1st reprimand for the Netherlands
now 3 reprimands by CEDAW
the 1st time that CEDAW reprimanded more than one state in one session
now 14 countries reprimanded in Europe, South America, Asia, Oceania and Africa.

We particularly appreciate the Committee specifically addressing the practice in Switzerland as “intersex genital mutilation” and explicitly obliging the State party to “adopt legislation” in order to
  • eliminate the practice

  ensure access to redress for survivors, and
  “provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support”,
as well as to
  “educate and train medical professionals on the harmful impact” of IGM,
referring to both the CEDAW-CRC Joint General Recommendation 18/31 “on harmful practices” and the recommendations by the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK-CNE) (both underlining the need for legal revision including liability, criminal law and statutes of limitation).

THANK YOU to everybody who made this possible!

The binding CEDAW65 intersex recommendations in full + session transcripts + NGO reports:


IGM in Switzerland: 2016 CEDAW NGO Report
Human Rights Violations Of Persons With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM in Switzerland  Complicity of the State  Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (288 kb)

>>> CEDAW65: Switzerland questioned over Intersex Genital Mutilatons
>>> UN Press Release Highlights Intersex Genital Mutilations in Switzerland

CEDAW65: Binding Intersex Recommendations for Switzerland:

>>> CEDAW/C/CHE/CO/4-5 (PDF) --> paras 24-25, 38-39

“Harmful practices

24.  The Committee welcomes the adoption of legislative and other measures to combat harmful practices, including female genital mutilation (FGM), intersex mutilation (IGM), child marriage and forced marriage. However, the Committee is concerned about:


(c)  Insufficient support for intersex persons, who have undergone involuntary and medically unnecessary disfiguring surgical procedures when they were babies and children, often with irreversible consequences, resulting in significant physical and psychological suffering;

(d)  The pressure placed on parents of intersex children by medical professionals, the media and society at large, often forces them to give their consent for so called “medical procedures” justified by psychosocial indications; intersex children and adults are often unaware of the procedures they have been subjected to while access to legal remedies for intersex persons affected by unnecessary medical procedures is extremely limited with the statute of limitations often expiring by the time intersex children reach adulthood; and

(e)  Lack of integration of intersex persons and their families in interdisciplinary working groups and failure to consult with those directly affected by these procedures in decisions that affect their lives.

25.  In light of the joint recommendation/general comment No. 31 of the Committee and No. 18 of the Committee of the Rights of the Child on harmful practices (2014), the Committee recommends that the State party:


(c)  Ensure that, in line with recommendations from the Swiss Ethics Commission, that no child is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood; adopt legislation to protect the bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination of intersex persons and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support;

(d)  Adopt legal provisions in order to provide redress to intersex persons affected by cases of surgical or other medical treatment without free, prior and informed consent by the intersex person or his/her parents under the guidance of the court; and

(e)  Educate and train medical professionals on the harmful impact of unnecessary surgical or other medical interventions for intersex children, and ensure that the views of intersex persons are fully considered by the interdisciplinary working groups established to review these procedures.


38.  The Committee welcomes measures adopted by the State party to address disparities in accessing health services between cantons, and in particular, between Swiss nationals and migrants. However, the Committee remains concerned about:

[...] (c)  Disparities in the availability of cantonal support services and the lack of inclusion of lesbian, bisexual and intersex persons in health surveys and registers; [...]

39.  In line with its general recommendation No. 24 (1999) on women and health, the Committee recommends that the State party:

[...] (c) Include reference to, and documentation on, LBTI persons in national health surveys and registers; [...]”

IGM in the Netherlands: 2016 CEDAW NGO Report
“Violence against and ill-treatment of intersex children” (paras 34-38)
“Remedies for violations of the rights of intersex persons” (paras 39-41)
>>> Download as PDF (530 kb)

>>> CEDAW65: The Netherlands questioned over IGM

CEDAW65: Binding Intersex Recommendations for the Netherlands:

>>> CEDAW/C/NLD/CO/6 (PDF) --> paras 21-22, 23-24

“Stereotypes and harmful practices

21.  The Committee welcomes the State party’s efforts to combat discriminatory gender stereotypes and harmful practices such as female genital mutilation and crimes in the name of so-called honour, as well as the adoption of the Forced Marriages (Countermeasures) Act, which entered into force in December 2015. The Committee is, however, concerned that: 


(e)  Medically irreversible sex-assignment surgery and other treatments are performed on intersex children.

22.  The Committee recommends that the State party: 


(f)  Develop and implement a rights-based health-care protocol for intersex children which ensures that children and their parents are properly informed of all options and that children are, to the greatest extent possible, involved in decision-making about medical interventions and that their choices are fully respected.

“Gender-based violence against women

23.  The Committee commends the State party on its efforts to address gender-based violence against women such as the adoption of the Social Support Act (2015) which broadened the concept of social support to include safety in the domestic setting and the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (the Istanbul Convention) in 2015. However, the Committee remains concerned at:

[...] (f) Reports of hate crimes against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women.

24.  In line with its general recommendation No. 19 (1992) on violence against women, the Committee recommends that the State party:

[...] (f)  Intensify efforts to combat hate crimes against lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex women.”    

See also:
UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (CRC): IGM = Harmful Practice + Violence
UN Committee against Torture (CAT) 2015: IGM = Inhuman Treatment or Torture
UN Women's Rights Committee (CEDAW): IGM = Harmful Practice
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Violation of Integrity
UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) to examine IGM Practices
CAT 2011: Germany must investigate IGM practices and compensate survivors!

IGM as a Harmful Practice: UN-CRC Briefing
• IGM: A Survivor's Perspective • Intersex Movement History
• What are Variations of Sex Anatomy?  • What are IGM Practices?
• IGM and Human Rights  • Conclusion: IGM as a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents on Facebook

Eliminating IGM practices by holding the perpetrators accountable via well-established applicable human rights frameworks, including Inhuman Treatment and Harmful Practices – Presentation @ UN expert meeting on Intersex Human Rights in Geneva 26.–27.10.2015
>>> Download PDF (831kb)