CRC82 > Portugal questioned about intersex mutilation by UN – Belgium, Mexico, Spain, Switzerland next

[ Deutsch ]


Photo: UNHRC UPR #14, Geneva 20.10.2012

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookIGM = CRIME, Not 'Health Care' or 'Equality'!In Geneva, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is currently examining the human rights record of Portugal, repeatedly asking the State party why harmful practices against intersex children were allowed to continue, and why IGM survivors were denied access to redress and justice?
When Portugal tried to change the subject, discussing “international medical standards” and “transgender legislation” instead, Committee members asked follow-up questions, which Portugal will have to answer today (10-13h CEST).

UPDATE: UN Press Release: Portugal Defends Intersex Genital Mutilation

On the shiny outside, Portugal has recently adopted legislation aimed at protecting intersex children from IGM practices, claiming to have abolished the practice altogether, echoing similar legislation and claims from Malta – coincidentally, next week in Brussels, both countries will be praised once more as intersex human rights pioneers at a EU “High level Conference on Advancing LGBTI equality”.

However, as documented in NGO Reports, both in Malta and Portugal, all forms of IGM persist with impunity, advocated and paid for by the State party. In a previous session earlier this year, CRC already considered IGM in Malta as a harmful practice. Yesterday in Geneva, Portugal’s answers were hardly more than the known usual excuses and denials right in the face of documented facts.

Based on evidence submitted by StopIGM.org in collaboration with local and regional intersex NGOs, UN Treaty bodies CRC, CAT, HRCttee-CCPR, CRPD and CEDAW have so far reprimanded 12 EU countries for failing to effectively protect intersex children from non-consensual, unnecessary genital surgery, forced sterilisation and other involuntary, non-urgent procedures which the UN Committees consider to amount to serious violations of non-derogable human rights under multiple Treaties, namely cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment falling under the absolute prohibition of torture (CAT, CCPR, CRPD), a harmful cultural practice just like FGM (CRC, CEDAW), involuntary medical or scientific experimentation (CCPR), and a violation of the integrity of the person (CRPD). Globally, we’re currently at 42 UN reprimands for IGM practices to 24 countries (see list).

Together with fellow intersex NGOs Brújula Intersexual, Intersex Belgium, Vivir y Ser Intersex, Intersex.ch and SI-Global, StopIGM recently submitted 5 Intersex Shadow Reports to different Treaty bodies, besides Portugal also for Belgium, Mexico, Spain and Switzerland – all of them up for review in Geneva:

2019-CRC-Portugal-NGO-Zwischengeschlecht-Intersex-IGMCountry: Portugal
Treaty Body: Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Convention: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)
Download Intersex NGO Report: PDF (942 kb)
Report by: StopIGM.org
Next Steps in Review Cycle: Examination @ CRC 82nd Session, 19.-20.09.2019; Concl Obs due November
>>> Full Timeline Previous UN Reprimands: none

2019-CCPR-Belgium-NGO-Intersex-StopIGMCountry: Belgium
Treaty Body: Human Rights Committee (HRCttee-CCPR)
Convention: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
Download Intersex NGO Report: PDF (581 kb)
Report by: Intersex Belgium, StopIGM.org
Next Steps in Review Cycle: Examination @ CCPR 127th Session, 15.-16.10.2019; Concl Obs due November
>>> Full Timeline Previous UN Reprimands: CRC (2019)

2019-CCPR-Mexico-NGO-Intersex-Brujula-StopIGMCountry: Mexico
Treaty Body: Human Rights Committee (HRCttee-CCPR)
Convention: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
Download Intersex NGO Report: PDF (636 kb)
Report by: Brújula Intersexual, Vivir y Ser Intersex, StopIGM.org
Next Steps in Review Cycle: Examination @ CCPR 127th Session, 16.-17.10.2019; Concl Obs due November
>>> Full Timeline Previous UN Reprimands: CEDAW (2018)

2019-CCPR-LOIPR-Spain-Intersex-Brujula-StopIGMCountry: Spain
Treaty Body: Human Rights Committee (HRCttee-CCPR)
Convention: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR)
Download Intersex NGO Report: PDF (377 kb)
Report by: StopIGM.org, Brújula Intersexual
Next Steps in Review Cycle: List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR) @ CCPR 127th Session, due November; State Report with replies to LOIPR due 2020  >>> Full Timeline
Previous UN Reprimands: CRC (2018)

2019-CRC-LOIPR-Swiss-NGO-Zwischengeschlecht-Intersex-IGMCountry: Switzerland
Treaty Body: Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disablities (CRPD)
Convention: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disablities (CRPD)
Download Intersex NGO Report: DOCX (246 kb) | PDF (333 kb)
Report by: StopIGM.org, Intersex.ch, SI-Global
Next Steps in Review Cycle: List of Issues Prior to Reporting (LOIPR) @ CRPD 12th Pre-Sessional Working Group, due November; State Report with replies due 2020 >>> Full Timeline
Previous UN Reprimands: CRC (2015), CAT (2015), CEDAW (2016), CCPR (2017)

>>> intersex.shadowreport.org

See also:
‘Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 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 is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

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)

ESPE 2019 in Austria > “Clitoral surgery been performed in 231 (92%)”

[ Deutsch ]


Intersex protest + Open Letter vs. ‘ESPE 9th Joint Meeting’, Milano (Italy) 19.09.2013

Presentation @ 58th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology ESPE, starting in Vienna (Austria) today (see Abstract Book (PDF), p. 96):

“Contemporary Surgical Approach in CAH 46XX – Results from the I-DSD/I-CAH Registries”

“Genital surgery has been performed in 251 (76%). Clitoral surgery been performed in 231 (92%), vaginal surgery in 204 (81%) and a combination of clitoral and vaginal surgery had been performed in 186 (74%). Of the 251 who had surgery, 18 (7%) had vaginal but no clitoral surgery whilst 42 (17%) had clitoral but no vaginal surgery. Mean age at first surgery was 2.5 years (0-15), with clitoral surgery and vaginal surgery at 2.6 years (range) and 3.2 years (range), respectively. In a logistic regression model it could be shown that there was a negative trend for surgery over time. Moreover, there was a significant trend towards surgery before 24 months of life over time. However, there were significant geographic differences in the probability/incidence of genital surgery: Europe 64%, Asia 97%, South America 89%. The Chicago Consensus Statement on DSD (comparison of data before and after 2006) did not have any significant influence on the timing or probability of surgery.”

Of course these figures are not new or unexpected. In fact, a presentation 2 years earlier by partly the same Austrian IGM doctors, “Current surgical practice in DSD” showed similar figures and the same tendencies.

This year’s ESPE features particularly many and particularly ugly D$D presentations.

StopIGM.org organised non-violent intersex protests against ESPE annual meetings in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, thanks to local solidarity and support. Unfortunately, when we asked Austrian intersex organisations they said they couldn’t provide any practical support. As StopIGM.org has no funding and this week is also the 82nd CRC Session in Geneva where the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child will examine IGM in Portugal, unfortunately, the ESPE mutilators will be able to promote their trade unchallenged.

See also:
Open Letter of Concern to EU Committee on Civil Liberties 2018
Spain > 2 Days of Live Intersex Genital Mutilation – Unchallenged
Open Letter of Concern to ‘6th I-DSD Symposium’ Copenhagen 2017
USA > ESPE et al. Celebrating End of Intersex Human Rights – Unchallenged
Open Letter of Concern to ’55th ESPE’ Paris 2016
Open Letter of Concern to ‘6th ISHID Hypospadias Workshop’, Seligenstadt 2015
Open Letter of Concern to ’53rd ESPE’ Dublin 2014
Open Letter of Concern to ‘4th WOFAPS’ Berlin 2013
Open Letter of Concern to ‘9th Joint Meeting’ (ESPE/LWPES) Milano 2013
Open Letter of Concern to ‘4th I-DSD Symposium’ Glasgow 2013
Open Letter of Concern to ’51st Annual Meeting of ESPE’ Leipzig 2012
Open Letter of Concern to ’23rd ESPU’ Zurich 2012
Open Letter of Concern to ‘ISHID’ Live Genital Mutilators London 2011
Open Letter of Concern to ‘3rd EuroDSD Symposium’ Lübeck 2011
Open Letter of Concern to ’11th EMBL/EMBO Conference’ Heidelberg 2010

Autriche > Communiqué de presse de l’ONU met l’accent sur la mutilation génitale des enfants intersexes

 [ English ]

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookLors de sa 73ème session à Genève, le Comité des Nations Unies pour l’élimination de la discrimination à l’égard des femmes (CEDAW) examinera la situation des droits de l’homme en Autriche. StopIGM.org et l’Association des personnes intersexuées en Autriche VIMÖ ont fourni au Comité des preuves de mutilations génitales intersexes (MGI) en cours. Avant l’examen, les ONG ont eu l’occasion d’informer le Comité en séance publique à Genève.

La déclaration sur les MGI présentée par Daniela Truffer (StopIGM.org) a été soulignée dans le communiqué de presse de l’ONU sur le briefing des ONG :

“Le Comité pour l’élimination de la discrimination à l’égard des femmes auditione la societé civile”
>>> Communiqué de presse de l’ONU (08.07.2019)

StopIGM a déploré que les enfants nés intersexes en Autriche, dotés d’organes génitaux « ambigus », soient toujours soumis à des interventions chirurgicales génitales superflues, y compris l’amputation partielle du clitoris, des procédures de stérilisation et des expérimentations humaines, sur la base des stéréotypes sociétaux et culturels sur ce qui constitue un corps masculin ou féminin acceptable. Pourtant, a dit l’ONG, la Cour constitutionnelle autrichienne a explicitement reconnu en 2018 que le fait d’être intersexe constitue une « variation » et non « un développement pathologique » et a conclu que le fait que les familles craignent la stigmatisation ne saurait en aucun cas justifier de telles interventions.

>>> Full Intersex NGO Statement (PDF) | (DOCX)
>>>
Austria: Intersex, IGM, Gender Stereotypes and Racism (PDF) | DOCX

See also:
Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
• ‘Harmful Medical Practice’: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condemn IGM
42 UN Reprimands for Intersex Genital Mutilations – and counting …
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!

Austria > UN Press Release Highlights Intersex Genital Mutilation

 [ Français ]

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookIGM = CRIME, Not 'Health Care' or 'Therapy'!During its 73rd Session in Geneva, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) will examine the human rights record of Austria. StopIGM.org and the Austrian Association of Intersex People VIMÖ provided the Committee with evidence of ongoing Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM). Prior to the examination, NGOs had the opportunity to brief the Committee in a public session in Geneva.

The statement on IGM presented by Daniela Truffer (StopIGM.org) was highlighted in the UN press release on the NGO Briefing:

“Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women hears from civil society organizations from Democratic Republic of the Congo, Austria, Cabo Verde and Guyana”
>>> UN Press Release (08.07.2019)

StopIGM said that, in Austria, intersex children born with so-called “ambiguous” genitalia continued to be submitted to unnecessary genital surgeries — including partial clitoris amputation, sterilizing procedures and human experimentation.  Such surgeries were based on societal and cultural stereotypes of what constituted female or male bodies, and were nevertheless advocated and paid for by the public health system.  To this day, rather than combat, investigate and monitor intersex genitalia mutilations, the State party refused to disclose statistics on this matter, and had tried to misrepresent this practice as supposedly genuine health care, despite the severe pain and suffering it caused.

>>> Full Intersex NGO Statement (PDF) | (DOCX)
>>>
Austria: Intersex, IGM, Gender Stereotypes and Racism (PDF) | DOCX

See also:
Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
• ‘Harmful Medical Practice’: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condemn IGM
42 UN Reprimands for Intersex Genital Mutilations – and counting …
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!

UN Child Rights Committee reprimands Malta for Intersex Genital Mutilation


Photo: Markus Bauer and Daniela Truffer (StopIGM.org) with the thematic intersex NGO report on Malta
at the 81st CRC Session, Palais Wilson, Geneva 15.05.2019

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookPress Release by StopIGM.org, 07.06.2019:

Malta is world-famous for being the first state to formally outlaw intersex genital mutilation, claiming to have meanwhile ‘equalis[ed] the penalties applicable to intersex genital mutilation to the penalties applicable to female genital mutilation’. During its 81st Session the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) examined these claims, based on an NGO report by StopIGM.org documenting evidence of IGM still being practiced in Malta both domestically and overseas due to legal loopholes and lack of enforcement.

As a result, CRC has now reprimanded Malta for IGM practices.

In its binding Concluding Observations, the Committee unmistakably condemns IGM in Malta as a ‘harmful practice’ according to art. 24 (3) of the Convention (just like FGM, which is also covered in the same paragraphs of the Concluding Observations), further referring to the CRC-CEDAW Joint General Recommendation No. 18/31 ‘on harmful practices’ and target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (‘eliminate all harmful practices’).

StopIGM.org welcomes this clear verdict, and in particular that CRC explicitly obliged Malta to

  • protect intersex children from all ‘unnecessary medical or surgical procedures’ without informed consent of the person concerned (which, contrary to Malta’s claims, clearly also include IGM 1 ‘hypospadias repair’)
  • ensure that intersex children and their families receive adequate counselling and support’
  • ‘effectively investigate incidents’ of IGM and ‘provide redress to victims […], including adequate compensation and rehabilitation’. (Full binding CRC recommendation see below.)

Daniela Truffer, IGM survivor and founding member of StopIGM.org, said:

‘For far too long and by far too many, Malta has been uncritically heralded as a “promised land” for intersex children, without ever taking a hard look at the less savoury reality behind the well-sounding promises and claims of Maltese officials. Fortunately the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child refused to have the wool pulled over its eyes, but finally made clear that, when it comes to harmful practices, mere legislation alone is not enough – and even less legislation marred by serious gaps and loopholes, which in practice isn’t enforced. Intersex children deserve better!

As stipulated in the CEDAW-CRC Joint General Comment invoked by the Committee, Malta urgently needs to implement a “holistic framework” to ensure “data collection”, “monitoring” and “enforcement” of the law, as well as that “children subjected to harmful practices have equal access to justice, including by addressing legal and practical barriers to initiating legal proceedings, such as the limitation period, and that the perpetrators and those who aid or condone such practices are held accountable”.

It sickens me to see how Maltese officials continue to condone, trivialise, advocate, facilitate and even personally perpetrate intersex genital mutilation with impunity, while at the same time masquerading as intersex champions, even at the UN. Everyone who condones or even supports such behaviour instead of challenging it loud and clear is just as guilty as those who wield the scalpel.’

CRC81: Full Binding Intersex Recommendations to Malta

>>> Download full Concl Obs: CRC/C/MLT/CO/3-6 –> paras 28 (b) – 29 (d) + (e)
>>> Full Intersex NGO Report by StopIGM.org (PDF, 768 kb)
>>> CRC81 TRANSCRIPT + VIDEO: Malta questioned about IGM – Gov denies
>>> Intersex article in the “Times of Malta”

‘E. Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)

Harmful practices  [art. 24 (3)]

28. While welcoming the State party’s efforts to eliminate harmful practices against children, including the amendment to article 251 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes female genital mutilation, forced sterilization and forced marriage, and the adoption of the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act that provides for the recognition of gender identity on person’s self-identification rather than harmful medical and surgical requirements, the Committee remains concerned that:

[…]

(b) There are cases of intersex children allegedly subjected to surgical and other procedures, which were medically unnecessary, without their consent to such procedures, which often entail irreversible consequences and can cause severe physical and psychological suffering; and the lack of redress and compensation in such cases.

29. With reference to its joint general recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women/general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices (2014) and taking note of target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee urges the State party to:

[…]

(d) Ensure that intersex children are not subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical procedures during infancy or childhood, and guarantee the bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination of the children concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support;

(e) Effectively investigate incidents of surgical and other medical treatment of intersex children without informed consent and provide redress to victims of such treatment, including adequate compensation and rehabilitation.’

Background: Malta, Intersex, IGM and the CRC

Malta is world-famous for being the first state to formally outlaw intersex genital mutilation in 2015, despite that the law failed to include any sanctions (penalties) and IGM continues both domestically and overseas. After tacitly amending the law last year, the Maltese government now claims to have ‘equalis[ed] the penalties applicable to intersex genital mutilation to the penalties applicable to female genital mutilation’. But is this really true?

A NGO report by StopIGM.org to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) demonstrates that in Malta the penalties for IGM are still less than half of those for FGM, and that in relation to IGM the law also contains other known loopholes, with the result that that intersex genital mutilation continues unchanged, both domestically in university children’s clinics, including the Mater Dei Hospital, and abroad in contractual clinics, notably in the UK, Belgium and Italy. (The government still does not disclose any figures on this subject.)

In contrast to the Maltese prohibition of FGM, there is still no extraterritorial protection against genital mutilation on intersex children in Malta (i.e. IGM abroad continues with impunity), also incitement, financing, aiding and abetting, etc. are still allowed to continue with impunity when it comes to IGM, even domestically. Accordingly, the law is ignored or not enforced in Maltese clinics – with the tacit approval of the Maltese government, whose Minister of Health is not only a well-known advocate of IGM, but as a paediatric surgeon also a hands-on IGM practitioner.

During its 81st session in Geneva, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, based on our NGO report, questioned Malta about IGM practices and the actual implementation of the law concerning Intersex children (see video + transcript). The Maltese delegation ‘replied’ on ‘intersex and trans children’ and ‘LGBTIQ issues’, claimed there were ‘no cases of unnecessary medical or surgical interventions’, neither ‘locally’ nor ‘abroad’, and promised to convene yet another ‘interministerial committee who will be following up the implementation of the law more closely’ (see video + transcript). (In a personal conversation a delegate confirmed that the most common form IGM 1 ‘hypospadias repair’ is practised unchanged in Malta, ‘but that’s not Intersex’).

On the day of the State Examination in Geneva, the Times of Malta reported on our NGO report and the evidence documented therein that in Malta – despite all appearances – intersex children are still victims of genital mutilation. Remarkable are also the the comments below the article, including a telling one by someone apparently at least close to IGM doctors, complaining that “[…] hypospadias repair surgery is done by fully qualified health care professionals […] I find it offensive to label such surgery as IGM. […] Parents also have a duty of care towards their children and should not be made to feel guilty if they seek a medical opinions and treatment.” (JK Scicluna on May 15, 2019 8:42 PM) – however, most comments are opposing IGM.

Eventually, a week after concluding the 81st session, the Committee now published its Concluding Observations – including a reprimand to Malta for IGM practices, and binding recommendations on how to effectively protect intersex children not just on paper, but also in practice, marking the very first UN reprimand for IGM to Malta, the 14th European country reprimanded for IGM, and already the 42nd UN Treaty body reprimands condemning intersex genital mutilations as a serious violation of non-derogable human rights.

2019-CAT-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGMIntersex Genital Mutilations in Malta: 2019 CRC Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM in Malta + overseas • Legal gaps & loopholes • Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (758 kb)

See also:
‘Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 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 is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

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)

CRC81 > TRANSCRIPT + VIDEO: Malta questioned about Intersex Genital Mutilation by UN – Gov denies + sidesteps

[ Résumé en français ]   [ Zusammenfassung auf deutsch ]


CRC 81st Session @ Palais Wilson, Geneva 15.05.2019, 09:51h: Getting ready …
Right row, back (just below the podium): Ms. Velina Todorova who asked about IGM.

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookThis week, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) is examining the human rights record of Malta during its 81st Session in Geneva, to be transmitted LIVE on webtv.un.org!

A thematic intersex NGO report by StopIGM.org highlights serious gaps and legal loopholes in Malta’s law concerning intersex children, and documents how Malta continues to promote and facilitate IGM practices, both domestically and overseas in contractual hospitals. >>> Article in the Times of Malta (15.05.2019)

StopIGM.org was reporting LIVE from Geneva, hoping the Committee will ask tough questions on IGM practices in Malta! 

UPDATE: Malta reprimanded for IGM by UN-CRC!

Session 1, Tue 15 May 2019, 15-18h CEST

15:07h (Video @ 00:06:33): In her introductory statement, the Maltese Head of Delegation Dr Marisa Scerri (Director General (Social Policy), Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity (MFCS)), refers to the GIGESC Law (which reportedly fails intersex children), claims it would “protect” intersex children “against unwanted or unnecessary surgical intervention” (download full statement): :-(

«In Malta, children have been a national priority for several decades as reflected in various laws including child-related provisions in the areas of education, social security, adoption, and crime victims. The Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act, a law which the United Nations’ Free and Equal Campaign, and several human rights civil society organisations hailed as a legal benchmark for the rights of trans, gender variant and intersex persons, introduced a right to gender identity to adults and minors alike; as well as, a right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy, protecting minors against unwanted or unnecessary surgical intervention or other medical treatment on their sex characteristics.»

15:49h (Video @ 00:50:29): YAY!! CRC Vice Chairperson and Country Co-rapporteur Ms. Velina Todorova  raises “non-urgent, irreversible, surgical and other procedures” on intersex children under “harmful practices”! Asks about measures, sanctions and prosecutions, including in cases where IGM is perpetrated abroad.  :-) Unofficial Transcript:

«I go to harmful practices. The reply states that there had been no reported cases of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment including forced marriages and female genital mutilation. However, we were informed that a research had been undertaken at it shows that 50% of migrant girls mostly originating from FGM practising countries are at high risk of FGM. We are aware also of the positive measures taken in Malta but we would like to hear more about the effective prevention and protection measures.

And to address this positive and progressive legislation with regard to intersex children, I would like to express our concern that the implementation of the law, it’s a question, is really in accordance with the principles of the convention, for example is the best interest of the children, of the child considered in taking decisions with regard to changing the sex? We have been informed also that many non-urgent, irreversible, surgical and other procedures have been undertaken on intersex children before an age at which they are able to provide informed consent, so this could be regarded as unlawful. For small children these decisions are taken by parents and we heard that operations had been undertaken in breach of the law or abroad.

Are there such cases, are there cases prosecuted, are doctors sanctioned, medical doctors? Could you please inform us a little bit more on these issues. What are the measures taken by the Government to implement properly this progressive law in the interest of children? Thank you very much.»

16:37h (Video @ 01:38:59): Longwinded but weak “answer” on IGM by Head of Delegation Dr Marisa Scerri (Director General (Social Policy), Ministry for the Family, Children’s Rights and Social Solidarity (MFCS)), again refers to the GIGESC Law (which reportedly fails intersex children), and repeatedly digresses to discuss trans children, gender identity, etc. Claims no IGM procedures “in breach of the law” perpetrated neither domestically or aboad. admits no convictions yet for IGM. :-( Unofficial Transcript:

«Another … another question was that concerning … the … intersex … and trans children. Well, as indicated in our opening speech Malta adopted the Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act in 2015. The bill towards this act was prepared by the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties in consultation with the LGBTIQ Consultative Council, which is a body set up by Government and consisting of representatives of all LGBTIQ organisations. So, again, this goes to show that there is coordination both with volunteer organisations as well as with Civil Society organisations, so that we try to come up with the most effective policies and goals that actually address the realities on the ground.

The formulation of a law was intended to provide all citizens of Malta the right [to] gender identity and to protect all persons against breaches to their right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy. Specifically with regard to intersex persons the initial formulation was presented to the Minister for Health who is responsible to follow such cases, who confirmed that the aims of the bill was already the current practice in Malta. An agreement between the Ministry for Health and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs and Civil Liberties was therefore reached fairly quickly. The European Branch of the Organisation Intersex International was consulted prior to the presentation of the bill in Parliament. The bill reached its third and final reading on the 1st of April 2015 and passed with the support of all members of Parliament, nem con that is in unanimously.

In press statements issued on the day Transgender Europe called the law a historic breaktrough for the rights of trans and intersex persons in Malta and Europe. While Malta was also congratulated on this bill by OII Europe which stated that by making these procedures unlawful until the individual can provide informed consent, Malta is taking vital steps to ensure that the individual’s primary rights to self-determination, bodily integrity and personal dignity are respected. For the first time in history, intersex individuals will no longer be forced to endure arbitrary surgical sex assignment based on sociological factors. This NGO went on to encourage the Governments of other nations to look to Malta as an example of legislative good practice in this regard.

The latest amendment to the Gender Identity Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act effected during the implementation of the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention in Maltese law introduced fines and even prison terms for those in breach of the right to bodily integrity and physical autonomy. This to bring greater clarity to the framework for legal sanctions against all forms of genital mutilation including intersex genital mutilation and link it closer to framework that applies to female genital mutilation.

It is important to note that there were no cases of unnecessary medical or surgical interventions carried out locally on intersex minors or any such cases referred for intersex surgery abroad in breach of the law. Maltese law allows for both civil and criminal redress, however, to date no criminal convictions have been reported in this respect.

It’s also important to note that thanks to the promotions and efforts by Maltese Government vis-à-vis LGBTIQ issues parents are increasingly aware of variations in sex characteristics and therefore also increasingly prepared to deal with own intersex children. In a similar vain, trans children have changed gender in primary school education without incident, in line with the transgender variant and intersex students in schools policy.»

16:45h (Video @ 01:46:37): Delegation member Dr Karen Vincenti (Consultant Public Health Medicine, Department for Policy in Health, Office of the Chief Medical Officer, Ministry of Health) complements initial ”answer“ on IGM, again claims GIGESC Act has been “so far successful”, further referring to an “interministerial committee who will be following up the implementation […] currently being set up”, and again digresses to “transgender service”. :-( Unofficial Transcript:

«[Head of Delegation:] I invite my colleague Dr Karen Vincenti to give us her views, her Ministry’s position regarding aspects of questions raised which concern the health dimension.»

«[Dr Karen Vincenti:] Thank you, Dr Scerri. Regarding the issue, regarding the intersex genital mutilation, I have nothing more, not much more to add, only that these cases, we moved away quite extensively from the usual medical model, and the transgender service was actually set up with very close consultation with Civil Society and also the clinicians and the patients themselves.

So basically it’s very, it was a new challenge which we understand has been so far, so far been successful that took into consideration all these needs. The, we have, due to our smallness and the small amount of cases, we have one paediatric endocrinologist who is responsible to follow these cases, and the formulation was, for the law, was carried out very closely with, with this expert and with all the experts concerned. There will be an interministerial committee who will be following up the implementation of the law more closely, and this is currently being set up.»

After the Session: Unsurprisingly, when we tried to talk to Delegation members to share our NGO report, one member openly admitted that [WARNING!!!] IGM 1 “hypospadias repair surgery” continues to be practiced also in Malta itself, “but that’s not intersex”.

So let’s hope the Committee will not have the wool pulled over its eyes – but will issue yet another strong reprimand for IGM, and the very first one to Malta, after the Session!

2019-CAT-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGMIntersex Genital Mutilations in Malta: 2019 CRC Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM in Malta + overseas • Legal gaps & loopholes • Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (758 kb)

UPDATE: Article in the Times of Malta (15.05.2019)

UPDATE: YAY!! Malta reprimanded for IGM practices by UN-CRC!

See also:
42 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
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) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 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 is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

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)

Times of Malta: “‘Human rights for hermaphrodites too’, international organisation tells Malta” (15.05.2019)

 [ Français ]   [ Deutsch


>>> Full Times of Malta article + comments: click in picture!

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookThe Times of Malta reported on our NGO report’s findings, highlighting Malta’s lack of action regarding [WARNING!!!] IGM 1 “hypospadias repair surgery”!

Also noteworthy are the comments below the article, including a telling one by someone apparently at least close to IGM doctors, complaining that “[…] hypospadias repair surgery is done by fully qualified health care professionals […] I find it offensive to label such surgery as IGM. […] Parents also have a duty of care towards their children and should not be made to feel guilty if they seek a medical opinions and treatment.” (JK Scicluna on May 15, 2019 8:42 PM) – however, most comments are opposing IGM.

>>> CRC81 > Malta questioned about Intersex Genital Mutilation
>>> Genital mutilation: How Malta’s law fails intersex children

2019-CAT-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGMIntersex Genital Mutilations in Malta: 2019 CRC Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM in Malta + overseas • Legal gaps & loopholes • Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (758 kb)

See also:
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM

Genital mutilation: How Malta’s law fails intersex children

 [ Français ]   [ Deutsch ]

UPDATE: Article in the Times of Malta (15.05.2019)

3rd Intersex Forum 2013
Photo: The participants of the 3rd International Intersex Forum, Malta 29.11.–01.12.2013

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookIGM = CRIME, Not 'Health Care' or 'Therapy'!Malta is world-famous for being the first state to formally outlaw intersex genital mutilation in 2015, despite that the law failed to include any sanctions and IGM continues both domestically and overseas. After tacitly amending the law last year, the Maltese government now claims to have “equalis[ed] the penalties applicable to intersex genital mutilation to the penalties applicable to female genital mutilation”. But is this really true? Intersex NGO StopIGM.org investigates:

How the Maltese GIGESC Act Fails Intersex Children

In 2015, Malta passed the Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act (GIGESC Act), [25] which under art. 14 explicitly makes it “unlawful” to perform IGM practices, but initially included no sanctions at all. A 2018 amendment [26] eventually introduced sanctions, namely “punishment of imprisonment not exceeding five years, or […] a fine (multa) of not less than five thousand euro (€5,000) and not more than twenty thousand euro (€20,000)” (GIGESC art. 14.(2)).

The Maltese Government claims these newly introduced sanctions would “equalise the penalties applicable to intersex genital mutilation to the penalties applicable to female genital mutilation”. [27] However, this is not true, as the sanctions for FGM are actually double (“imprisonment for a term of five to ten years” with no possibility to get off with a fine) and included in the Criminal Code (art. 251E.). [28]

Similarly, regarding IGM there are no extraterritorial protections, while regarding FGM “extraterritoriality [is] in force, we aim to ensure that if female genital mutilation is done to girls when they go abroad, the crime will be prosecuted in Malta”. [29]

Regarding IGM, the GIGESC Act further fails to meet the stipulation of the CRC-CEDAW Joint General Comment No. 18/31 “on harmful practices” that “children subjected to harmful practices have equal access to justice, including by addressing legal and practical barriers to initiating legal proceedings, such as the limitation period (JGC 18/31, para 55 (o)).

Further, in the case of FGM, not only those who perform the actual deed are guilty under the law, but also “[w]hosoever aids, abets, counsels, incites, procures or coerces a female to excise, infibulate or otherwise mutilate the whole or any part of her own genitalia, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on conviction, to the punishment laid down under this article.” (Criminal Code, art. 251E.(6)) On the other hand, in the case of IGM the only ones punishable under the law are the “medical practitioners or other professionals” who perform the actual mutilation domestically (GIGESC art. 14.(1)+(2)), whereas doctors who refer children to be submitted to IGM in foreign hospitals (as it is often the case in Malta, see also p. 9-10) are a priori exempt from prosecution, same as whosoever aiding, abetting, counselling, inciting, procuring or coercing intersex children to be submitted to IGM.

What’s more, according to statements of the Maltese Government, the law as it is exempts IGM 1 “hypospadias repair”, [30] the most frequent IGM practice (and apparently the only one that is performed in Malta itself, see also p. 8-9), as “whether cases of hypospadias are covered by the above prohibition may fall to be determined later by the courts.” [31] For other IGM practices, Malta is sending children overseas for surgery, reportedly to the UK, [32] Belgium, [33] and arguably also to Italy [34] – which the law does not prohibit and punish either.

Conclusion, GIGESC art. 14 aimed at protecting intersex children from IGM practices on the one hand fails to meet the minimal requirements set out by CRC art. 24(3) and the Joint General Comment No. 18, and on the other hand so far the law is simply not enforced.

[25] http://justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lom&itemid=12312&l=1
[26] ACT No. XIII of 2018, para 31, http://justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lp&itemid=29057&l=1
[27] Ministry for European Affairs and Equality (2018), “LGBTIQ Strategy & Action Plan 2018-2022”, p. 7, available at http://www.lgbtiq.gov.mt/
[28] http://www.justiceservices.gov.mt/DownloadDocument.aspx?app=lom&itemid=8574
[29] Helena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs and Equality (04.02.2019),
https://eige.europa.eu/news/female-genital-mutilation-illegal-malta-girls-are-not-safe
[30] Piet de Bruyn (2017), Report: Promoting the human rights of and eliminating discrimination against intersex people, COE Doc. 14404, p. 14, para 47, http://semantic-pace.net/tools/pdf.aspx?doc=aHR0cDovL2Fzc2VtYmx5LmNvZS5pbnQvbncveG1sL1hSZWYvWDJILURXLWV4dHIuYXNwP2ZpbGVpZD0yNDAyNyZsYW5nPUVO&xsl=aHR0cDovL3NlbWFudGljcGFjZS5uZXQvWHNsdC9QZGYvWFJlZi1XRC1BVC1YTUwyUERGLnhzbA==&xsltparams=ZmlsZWlkPTI0MDI3
[31] Ibid.
[32] See 2017 CRPD UK NGO Report, p. 9,
http://intersex.shadowreport.org/public/2017-CRPD-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGM.pdf
[33] See 2018 CRC Belgium NGO Report, p. 7,
http://intersex.shadowreport.org/public/2018-CRC-Belgium-NGO-Zwischengeschlecht-Intersex-IGM.pdf
[34] Miriam Dalmas (2017), Consultant Public Health Medicine at Ministry for Health, “Structures and processes for cross-border care referral”, slide 5,
https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/ern/docs/20170309_rt3_05_dalmas_pres_en.pdf

2019-CAT-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGMIntersex Genital Mutilations in Malta: 2019 CRC Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM in Malta + overseas • Legal gaps & loopholes • Harmful Practice
>>> Download as PDF (758 kb)

See also:
‘Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 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 is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

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)

CAT66 > VIDEO + TRANSCRIPT: UK questioned about Intersex Genital Mutilation by UN – Gov disregards pain, suffering + human rights


Intersex human rights defenders Anick (Intersex UK, centre) and Daniela Truffer and Markus Bauer (StopIGM.org) outside Palais Wilson after testifying before CAT, Geneva 06.05.2019

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookIGM = Torture, NOT 'Discrimination' or 'Gender Identity'This week, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) is examining the human rights record of the UK during its 66th Session in Geneva.

The UK Intersex NGO Coalition (IntersexUK, the UK Intersex Association and StopIGM.org) submitted a comprehensive NGO report (PDF) to the Committee, documenting serious human rights violations perpetrated particularly against intersex children allover the UK, and further briefed the Committee in a private meeting prior to the Session with updates and a powerful personal testimony by Anick.

In addition, also the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC) included a section on IGM in its NHRI report (PDF –> p. 86)many thanks!

Summary: During Session 1 of the UK review, on Tue 07.05.2017 a Committee member asked the UK delegation a question on involuntary surgery on intersex children. CAT has so far issued 7 reprimands to State parties condemning IGM as cruel, degrading or inhuman treatment (CIDT) falling under the non-derogable prohibition of torture. Wednesday 08.05.2019, it was the UK’s turn to answer the Commmitte’s questions. Hardly surprising, during Session 2 the government once more chose to NOT address the pain and suffering of the intersex children at risk, as first they’ll have to look way more into this eternally ’emerging and complex area’ ...

Session 1, Tue 7 May 2019, 10-13h CEST

12:32h (Video @ 2:31:33): YAY!! Committee chairperson Mr. Jens Modvig asks a question about intersex children! Notes there is no evidence for past and current surgical procedures, which may lead to suffering comparable to ill-treatment. Asks about  government plans to ensure peer support and a “watchful waiting approach” instead of “early and irreversible surgery […] agreed to by parents […] in a very vulnerable situation” !  :-)  Unofficial Transcript:

«On a different note I would like to ask about the role of the Government in regard to surgery of intersex individuals. Such gender determining surgery is increasingly controversial, in particular when it’s applied to infants. And to be frank, the scientific evidence for its long-term impact, particularly for its impact on quality of life, is absent, it simply doesn’t exist.

On the contrary, we hear in this Committee individuals often complaining that this type of surgery actually have very poor results, including genital pain, the need for many, many re-operations, poor sexual function and poor self-esteem.

So while of course we acknowledge that medical science progresses and that procedures that were used 30 years ago may be completely different and much more effective today, we are actually concerned that intersex persons have been and are still being subjected to medical procedures which, in spite of the available informed consent from parents, are undocumented as to the impact, longterm impact on quality of life and function, and where the results may create suffering which is comparable to ill-treatment.

For this reason we would like to hear if the State party has any plans to ensure a focused oversight over this area and that could also include for instance ensuring independent counselling of parents, and by independent I mean independent of the surgeons, for instance by adult intersex persons who have a large amount of experience to offer, and the introduction of the possibility of a watchful waiting approach, which is mentioned in one of the most recent scientific articles in this field. A watchful waiting approach rather than moving to early and irreversible surgery which by the way has been agreed to by parents who are in a very vulnerable situation. So why we may be on the edge of this convention’s mandate I would still be keen to have a reply to this question.»

Session 2, Wed 7 May 2019, 15-18h CEST

CAT66-UK-08-05-2019-Hawley16:23h (Video @ 01:23:47): Delegation member Ms. Angela Hawley (Policy Lead for Serious Mental Illness, Legislation and Justice, Department of Health and Social Care) gave a telling (non-)answer on intersex children, on the one hand claiming the government would now finally for the 1st time tackle this eternally new ’emerging and complex’ issue while at the same time hardly leaving any doubt that the government is hell-bent to continue with harmful surgeries on the infamous ‘individual case-by-case basis’ for as long as anyhow possible, without ever considering the suffering, let alone human rights of the children concerned …  :-(  Unofficial Transcript:

«Yesterday the Chair raised the issue of treatments of intersex individuals. These are very often complex cases which can only been considered on an individual case-by-case basis. The Government is working towards ensuring that people with intersex characteristics can access the care they need. In England, National Health Service England are scoping the feasibility of commissioning a clinical pathway for affected children and young adults.

Best practice in the National Health Service is that all infants and adolescents suspected of having intersex characteristics should be seen by an experienced multidisciplinary team. Families should be assigned single points of contact to lead discussions with them and discuss options regarding immediate or delayed treatment with hormone therapy or surgery. Affected new parents, the child or adolescent should have access to specialist psychological support both during and after the diagnostic process. In addition, any affected adolescent who requires medical or surgical attention, should be routinely offered clinical psychological support.

In January 2019, the Government Equalities Office launched a Call for Evidence to better understand the experiences and needs of people in the UK who have variations in sex characteristics. This is an emerging and complex area of social policy and it’s the first time Government has launched a piece of work specifically looking at issues experienced by these particular group. The Call for Evidence is closed and the Government is currently considering the responses received. Thank you.»

(Coincidentally, on the same day also the Government Equalities Office issued a similarly telling (non-)answer to StopIGM.org’s Letter of Concern about Disregard of Human Rights Implications in the ‘Call for Evidence’ – see for yourself which (non-)answer is more openly about ignoring intersex human rights.)

Let’s hope the Committee will not have the wool pulled over its eyes – but will issue yet another strong reprimand for IGM to the UK after the Session!

>>> Intersex: How to Distinguish Medical Crimes from Health Care

2019-CAT-UK-NGO-Coalition-Intersex-IGMIntersex Genital Mutilations in the UK: 2019 CAT Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM in the UK •  Stats • Complicity of the State • Inhuman Treatment
>>> Download as PDF (679 kb)

See also:
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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) condemns IGM Practices

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)

UK > ‘Why does the “call for evidence” ignore intersex human rights?’ Letter of Concern to Government Equalities Office, by StopIGM.org

UPDATE 2: We received a telling (non-)answer by GEO (see below) – one day after the UK was asked about intersex children by the UN Committee against Torture
UPDATE 1: Contributions to the ‘Call for evidence’ sent to the dedicated GEO email account were not read, but ‘archived away’?!


‘Until there is a change in the law, we’ll continue cutting’ Dr I. Mushtaq (GOSH, UCL) Photo: Peaceful protest outside the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children, host of the infamous ‘ISHID 2011 Live Surgeries’, with Open Letter to GOSH, ISHID and RCS. (Arguably one example of the ‘[h]istorical [!] experience of live teaching surgeries and medical photography’ mentioned in GEO’s ‘Technical Paper, p. 11 –> p. 13 of PDF.)

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookIGM = CRIME, Not 'Health Care' or 'Therapy'!The ‘Call for evidence on the experiences of people who have variations in sex characteristics’ of the UK Government Equalities Office (GEO) is now closed.

Unfortunately, so far GEO’s ‘evidence-gathering exercise’ is completely ignoring human rights.

Which is the more shameful, as recently the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) both reprimanded the UK for Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM), explicitly obliging the Government to ‘[p]rovide redress to the victims of such treatment’ (CRC) and to ‘[e]stablish measures to ensure equal access to justice’ for IGM survivors (CRPD).

Intersex NGO StopIGM.org therefore sent the Government Equalities Office a  >>> Letter of Concern about Disregard of Human Rights Implications in the ‘Call for Evidence’ (PDF), noting the total absence of any reference to applicable human rights, as well as the total absence of any human rights-related questions in the survey, namely to access to justice and rehabilitation, despite that these are crucial issues for many IGM survivors.

Daniela Truffer, IGM survivor and co-founder StopIGM.org:

‘I’ve seen the pattern before: Once the government can no longer simply deny the harmful and unnecessary genital surgeries perpetrated on intersex children, because they have been called out by human rights bodies, they’ll start a lengthy investigation. During its course, human rights concerns are conveniently brushed aside, same as IGM survivors and their legitimate grievances. Instead, the proceedings focus unduly on doctors, parents, and LGBT politics. In the end, the government will propose some 3rd gender legislation mostly benefiting trans people, while continuing to turn a blind eye to the daily mutilations of intersex children, paid for by the NHS. So far, unfortunately the UK Government Equalities Office ticks every box along the way.’

The Letter of Concern further acknowledges it’s a good thing that the UK Government, according to GEO’s ‘Technical Paper’ (PDF), is now officially ‘aware of calls from some UK stakeholders to end the practice of what they describe as “medically unnecessary interventions”‘, and aims to fill ‘evidence gaps’ to better ‘understand the nature and scale of the issue’. The Letter also references the most important intersex human rights obligations arising from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (p. 4-6).

Last but not least, the Letter of Concern – delivered to GEO via email last Thursday – kindly asks for an ‘explanation why the Government Equalities Office so far seems to fail to adequately consider intersex human rights, namely the non-derogable rights to protection from harmful practices, and to justice, redress and rehabilitation.’

So far, GEO has not yet acknowledged the receipt of the the Letter …

UPDATE 1: When after weeks we still didn’t receive at least a confirmation of the receipt of our Letter of Concern from GEO, for safety we re-sent the letter on 23.04.2019 asking if it arrived safely.

While thereafter we finally received an acknowledgement, unfortunately we also had to learn that contributions to the ‘Call for evidence’ sent to the dedicated GEO email account for the ‘Call’ were not read by GEO, but instead ‘archived away’ The full explanation given stated, ‘Apologies, I don’t believe your previous email was seen, as we moved Departments not long after and a few emails were archived away.’

At least we were further promised that our Letter will now be ‘forwarded […] on to the relevant colleague’, however, so far we still have to hear back from this person. Which leaves us to wonder, how many other contributions to the ‘Call’ via email were also tacitly ‘archived away’?

UPDATE 2: Coincidentally on the same day the UK gave a telling (non-)answer on IGM to the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva, we finally received a similarly telling (non-)answer from the Government Equalities Office (GEO) to our Letter of Concern:

From: <d[…]y_at_cabinetoffice.gov.uk> on behalf of “GEO.CORRESPONDENCE_at_cabinetoffice.gov.uk” <geo.correspondence@geo.gov.uk>
Date: Wednesday, 8 May 2019 at 18:16
To: <nella_at_zwischengeschlecht.info>
Cc: “GEO.CORRESPONDENCE Mailbox” <geo.correspondence_at_cabinetoffice.gov.uk>
Subject: Fwd: COGEO-000119 – Reply – DID YOU GET OUR MAIL? Fwd: Concern about Disregard of Human Rights Implications in the “Call for Evidence”

Dear Daniela Truffer, Markus Bauer,

Thank you for your letter of 24 April regarding human rights concerns and the Call for Evidence on Variations in Sex Characteristics. I am responding on behalf of the Minister for Women and Equalities.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) launched a call for evidence to provide everyone in the United Kingdom, especially people with variations in sex characteristics, with an opportunity to engage with Government and to tell us in detail about their experiences and what they think Government could or should be doing to improve their lives.

In your letter, you express concern that the call for evidence made no mention of human rights. The scope and design of the survey was specifically aimed at understanding the experiences of people with variations in sex characteristics; including, but not limited to, their experiences of healthcare, education, support services and documentation.

We have acknowledged that although we have some understanding of the key issues from our engagement with stakeholders, the existing evidence has a number of gaps. As you highlight in your letter, we are aware of calls to end the practice of what they describe as ‘medically unnecessary interventions’. However, before taking any steps, we must understand the nature and scale of the issue. In order for the Government to make informed decisions about potential policy interventions to meet the needs of people who have variations in sex characteristics, we are acutely aware of the need to strengthen the evidence base, hence launching the call for evidence as a first step.

We are currently analysing the results of the survey, and our response will be published in due course.

Yours sincerely,

Government Equalities Office

Now judge for yourself, which of today’s 2 (non-)answers makes the more compelling argument whether the UK government really wants to urgently protect intersex children from harmful surgery – or rather not:

The one issued on behalf of GEO to our Letter of Concern (see above) – or the one issued on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care to the UN Committee against Torture in Geneva?

To be continued …

>>> Letter of Concern to GEO about Disregard of Human Rights Implications (PDF)

IGM in the UK: UN-CRC NGO Report 
Human Rights Violations Of Persons With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
IGM – Most Common Forms • What is Intersex? • A Harmful Practice
>
>>  Download (PDF 3.60 MB)

>>> Genital mutilation on the NHS: UN-CRC reprimands UK + Nepal

IGM in the UK: UN-CRPD Follow-Up NGO Report
Human Rights Violations Of Children With Variations Of Reprod. Anatomy
Impunity • International IGM Networks in the UK • Testimonies
>>> Download as PDF (369 kb) | DOC (552 kb)

>>> UK, Morocco: UN-CRPD slams intersex genital mutilation on the NHS – again!

See also:
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
40 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 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 is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

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)