Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors

IGM = Mutilation, NOT ‘Controversy’ or ‘Debate’!UPDATE 2: We received a 2nd reply by Amnesty London (fulltext). Apparently now it’s just a case of bad “wording” having “created confusion”, and “clarify[ing]” that Amnesty “are not opposing any such laws [calling for criminalisation of IGM]”, however any call to do so would be “complicated by the fact that in many cases clinicians argue that interventions are ‘medically necessary’”. More intersex advocates have criticised Amnesty’s doctor-friendly answer and lack of acknowledging the political intersex consensus and relevant UN findings, and, where allowed to do so by local Amnesty sections, renewed calls for prohibition. We support these calls in our 2nd reply (fulltext) and ask, “when and how will Amnesty make this clarified position public?”  To be continued …

UPDATE! We received a reply by Amnesty (fulltext). The most salient bit reads: “However, [Amnesty] do[es] not call for a ban on surgeries. This is in line with our broader human rights work on issues related to gender and sexuality. We are calling for a rights-based approach to medical practice and based on our research into this issue, we are not confident that criminalising such surgeries would achieve this.” We (and others) are now calling upon Amnesty (fulltext) to disclose said policy “related to gender and sexuality” as well as said research showing why criminalisation would allegedly not be effective to end IGM and the impunity of the perpetrators, and to ensure access to justice to survivors. To be continued …

Photo: Ditte Dyreborg (Danish Intersex Advocate), Daniela Truffer, Markus Bauer (StopIGM.org),
Small Luk (BBKCI Hong Kong) after Denmark Intersex NGO Briefing for CAT, Palais Wilson 13.11.2015

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookPress Release by StopIGM.org, 12.05.2017:

IGM = Torture, NOT 'Discrimination' or 'Gender Identity'

As an international intersex human rights NGO with German and Danish members and associates and instrumental in achieving so far 22 UN reprimands for intersex genital mutilations (IGM), including to Germany and Denmark, StopIGM.org warmly welcomes Amnesty International highlighting human rights violations of intersex people in their new report “First, do no harm. Ensuring the Rights of Children with Variations of Sex Characteristics in Denmark and Germany” (PDF). However, StopIGM.org remains deeply concerned that said Amnesty report

  • fails to demand legal prohibition of IGM practices, thus falling short of demands of intersex people (e.g. Malta declaration) and UN treaty bodies (CRC, CAT, CEDAW, CRPD)
  • fails to adequately consider the most important human rights violations and applicable human rights frameworks at stake, namely harmful practices (CRC art. 24.3, CEDAW art. 5, CEDAW/CRC Joint General Comment 31/18), torture or inhuman treatment (CAT art. 2, 12, 14, 16), and CRPD, CCPR
  • fails to adequately consult intersex people, particularly IGM survivors and their organisations
  • fails to recognise that intersex and IGM are NOT an LGBT, discrimination or healthcare issue, BUT CONSTITUTE genital mutilation, a harmful practice, inhuman treatment, torture …

StopIGM.org thus would like to kindly remind Amnesty International of two crucial UN verdicts, unfortunately both omitted in said Amnesty report:

  • The Committee against Torture (CAT) explicitly obliged Denmark to “Take the necessary legislative, administrative and other measures to guarantee the respect for the physical integrity and autonomy of intersex persons and ensure that no one is subjected during infancy or childhood to unnecessary medical or surgical procedures” (CAT/C/DNK/CO/6-7, para 43 (a), 04.02.2016)
  • The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) explicitly obliged Germany to “Adopt clear legislative provisions explicitly prohibiting the performance of unnecessary surgical or other medical treatment on intersex children” and “Ensure effective access to justice, including by amending the statute of limitations” (CEDAW/C/DEU/CO/7-8, para 24 (d+e), 03.03.2017)

Legislation to end IGM practices remains the most urgent intersex demand. Failing to adequately include it, but instead recommending legislation only regarding “discrimination” and “legal gender recognition” while at the same time leaving the prevention of IGM to “healthcare providers” and the “Ministry of Health” as proposed in said Amnesty report, inevitably prolongs the impunity of IGM perpetrators and accessories, and grossly fails intersex children and IGM survivors.

Amnesty International must do better in the future, including by adequately consulting IGM survivors and their organisations.

StopIGM.org demands the prohibition of forced genital surgeries on children and adolescents with Variations of Sex Anatomy and “Human Rights for Hermaphrodites too!”

Persons concerned shall later decide themselves, if they want surgeries or not, and if yes, which.

Kind regards

Daniela “Nella” Truffer, Markus Bauer
Founding members human rights NGO Zwischengeschlecht.org / StopIGM.org

Mobile +41 (0) 76 398 06 50
Mobile +41 (0) 78 829 12 60

presse_at_zwischengeschlecht.info

http://StopIGM.org

http://intersex.shadowreport.org

>>> ANSWERS see documented below in Comments

2016 CRC Denmark NGO Report Intersex IGM

IGM Practices in Denmark: 2016 CRC Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM in Denmark  Complicity of the State  Harmful Practice
>>> Download as a PDF (633 kb)

2016-CEDAW-Swiss-Intersex-IGM

IGM Practices in Germany: 2017 CEDAW Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM in Germany  Complicity of the State  Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (519 kb)

See also:

23 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (CRC) 2015: IGM = Harmful Practice
UN Committee against Torture (CAT) 2015: IGM = Inhuman Treatment or Torture
UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) to examine IGM Practices
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) condemns IGM
56th Session of Committee against Torture reprimands 4 Governments for IGM
CAT 2011: Germany must investigate IGM practices and compensate survivors!

Zwischengeschlecht.org on Facebook

Intersex Genital Mutilations • 17 Most Common Forms
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
IGM – Historical Overview  What is Intersex?  How Common are IGMs?
>>> Download PDF (3.65 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

Zwischengeschlecht.org 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

>>> Download PDF (831kb)

4 thoughts on “Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors

  1. Subject: FW: [sogi] Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors
    Date: 2017-05-12 19:02
    From: L[…] C[…] < [...]@amnesty.org>
    To: “nella_at_zwischengeschlecht.info”
    CC: “presse_at_zwischengeschlecht.info”

    Dear Nella, Markus, and StopIGM.org members,

    I was concerned to read that you had criticisms of Amnesty’s recent report. I would like to take the time to respond privately to your criticisms, in addition to a public response to the list which I will send shortly.

    We share common goals – the end of non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgeries with harmful effects on infants and children, and the postponement of non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgeries until the individual in question can have meaningful input into decisions about what is done to their body. However, we do not call for a ban on surgeries. This is in line with our broader human rights work on issues related to gender and sexuality. We are calling for a rights-based approach to medical practice and based on our research into this issue, we are not confident that criminalising such surgeries would achieve this.

    Our report does reference some of the standards you mention in your press release, including on CIDT. It does not mention all of them as our report is not – nor does it claim to be – a comprehensive legal overview. Rather, it is documentation of the human rights violations we found during our research into the specific situations of individuals with variations in sex characteristics in Germany and Denmark, together with analysis of why these are violations of international standards. Our reports document specific situations so that we can campaign against these violations. For example, we do ask Germany to implement the recommendations made by the CAT in 2011.

    We worked closely with intersex activists, intersex-led organisations, and support groups for individuals with variations of sex characteristics in order to carry out our research. We are extremely grateful to everyone we worked with and we were honoured to have four activists – from one Danish, one German and two international organisations – speak at our launch press conference on Wednesday. While our demands are not exactly in line with those of other organisations working on this issue, we share the same goals of ending human rights violations against individuals with variations of sex characteristics and we hope that our campaigns will complement other work being done, in order to bring about positive change in the lives of individuals with variations of sex characteristics.

    We strive to present the human rights violations experienced by individuals with variations of sex characteristics as an issue in its own right, without linking it to LGBT issues except where there is a clear overlap and common challenges (for example, in accessing legal gender recognition). We chose to highlight health-related human rights standards because our research found that many violations were being committed in healthcare settings, often as a consequence of discrimination and gender stereotyping.

    I hope that I have addressed some of your concerns, and I look forward to speaking more as Amnesty continues to campaign for the human rights of individuals with variations of sex characteristics.

    Best wishes,

    L[…] C[…]

    Researcher/Advisor, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

    Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme

    International Secretariat – London

  2. Subject: Re: [sogi] Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors
    Date: 2017-05-13 14:03
    From: nella_at_zwischengeschlecht.info
    To: L[…] C[…] […]@amnesty.org
    Cc: info_at_zwischengeschlecht.org

    Dear L[…] [Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme, Amnesty]
    Dear M[…], D[…] [intersex advocates on list], and all

    Thank you for replying to our mail and addressing our concerns. Before replying to your points, we too would like to ask for some clarification regarding what you wrote (here in the wording you sent us directly before replying to the list):

    “However, we do not call for a ban on surgeries. This is in line with our broader human rights work on issues related to gender and sexuality. We are calling for a rights-based approach to medical practice and based on our research into this issue, we are not confident that criminalising such surgeries would achieve this.”

    We would like to second M[…] and D[…] in calling upon Amnesty to disclose this mentioned policy regarding gender and sexuality apparently preempting the application of of CAT, CRC, CEDAW, etc., and to explain why it applies to intersex genital mutilation?

    In addition, we would like to ask if said policy related to gender and sexuality also applies to other cases of harmful practices, torture/inhuman treatment or violence perpetrated on non-intersex persons, for example
    – sexualised violence against children a.k.a. child sexual abuse
    – female genital mutilation
    – sexualised torture e.g. in Abu Graib
    – forced rectal feeding e.g. in Guantanamo
    – (feel free to discuss also other relevant examples),
    and if not, why not?

    And we would like to second D[…]’s call to disclose your mentioned research showing why criminalisation (as stipulated in CAT art. 2, 12, 14, 16 in conjunction with CAT General comment No. 2 on redress, and CRC art. 24.3, and CEDAW art. 5 in conjunction with CEDAW/CRC Joint general recommendation No. 31/18 on harmful practices, as well as in Concluding Observations on the topic, including to Germany and Denmark) would not be suitable to end the practice and the impunity of perpetrators and accessories, and to ensure access to justice for victims, whereas regulations and protocols drafted, enforced and monitored by the perpetrators and accessories themselves would be more suitable to achieve this?

    Thank you in advance,

    Best wishes,

    Daniela Truffer, Markus Bauer / StopIGM.org

  3. Subject Re: [sogi] Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors
    From L[…] C[…] < [...]@amnesty.org>
    Sender sogi-list-bounces_at_arc-international.net
    To nella–at–zwischengeschlecht.info, […]
    Cc Sogi List
    Date 2017-05-16 12:34

    Dear Nella, M[…], D[…] and others,

    On reflection the wording of my previous email may have created confusion – apologies. To be clear, we are calling for the state to ensure an end to non-emergency, invasive and irreversible surgeries on infants and children with harmful effects. We do not stipulate the precise means by which this should be achieved, whether through changes to guidelines for medical practitioners, legislation governing such surgeries. We do not have a definitive policy position against criminalisation- and the report does not state or suggest that. We are not opposing any such laws or campaigns for them and there is no suggestion that we would not work with activists or groups who are calling for such a law. We are in general reluctant to recommend criminalisation without a clear idea of what such a law should look like and what unintended impacts such a law might have.

    Consequently, we stop short of recommending criminalisation in this instance – in the specific recommendations for Germany and Denmark and consequently in the general recommendations. As M[…] pointed out, the terminology and existing framework around these surgeries is complicated by the fact that in many cases clinicians argue that interventions are ‘medically necessary’ which complicates any call for prohibition, let alone criminalisation. We will respond to proposed laws on these issues in the same way as we do to other law proposals: with a human rights analysis and support, or recommendations for improvements, depending on the proposal.

    I hope this helps clarify our position on the specific issue of surgeries on infants and children with variations of sex characteristics. As I said, this is the first research report on intersex rights that Amnesty has produced and will be used to underpin campaigning work on this issue, including campaigns to raise awareness of intersex rights amongst our membership. It is the start of an ongoing programme of work and we look forward to continuing our discussions and work with intersex activists going forward and would welcome your future engagement.

    Best wishes,

    L[…] C[…]

    Researcher/Advisor, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

    Gender, Sexuality and Identity Programme

    International Secretariat – London

  4. Subject Re: [sogi] Amnesty Report fails Intersex Children and IGM Survivors
    From nella_at_zwischengeschlecht.info
    To L[…] C[…] < [...]@amnesty.org>, […]
    Cc Sogi List
    Date 2017-05-31 23:12

    Dear L[…] and all,

    Thank you for clarifying Amnesty’s position regarding prohibition of IGM practices. We very much appreciate that Amnesty reconsidered its position and is now apparently no longer opposing effective legal measures to eliminate IGM practices because of standing Amnesty policies related to gender and sexuality, or to sexual and reproductive rights respectively, or – as explained to a local Amnesty member also concerned about the lack of calling for prohibition of IGM in the report – for strategic reasons. This is surely good news and a more suitable basis for the future.

    Looking forward, when and how will Amnesty make this clarified position public? This would be crucial, because as of now only the less than optimal recommendations in said report, based on the previous unclarified position, are in the public domain.

    In addition, we would like to (again) support the points raised by M[…], J[…], M[…] and D[…], to which we’re still awaiting your reply, same as to our previous questions.

    And we would like to highlight the fact that both in the report in the German-language Amnesty Journal as well as at the press conference in Copenhagen, where intersex people were able to speak their mind freely, in both instances they (and experts) promptly called for a prohibition of IGM practices, including by referring to the mentioned UN treaty body verdicts, and also to longstanding concrete proposals for a prohibition in Germany, which again underlines our point that Amnesty should better represent the political consensus of intersex persons and their organisations in future reports [as well as the actual UN human rights jurisprudence].

    Looking forward to your replies,

    best wishes,

    Daniela & Markus

Leave a Comment