Genital Autonomy being recognized in Europe

In recent weeks, several major events acknowledging a child’s right to genital autonomy occurred in Europe. Nurses for the Rights of the Child applauds these efforts to protect the fundamental human rights of children and extend our gratitude to the growing number of individuals around the world who are working to end forced genital cutting.

On September 30, 2013, a prominent group of Nordic ombudsmen, pediatricians, and pediatric surgeons met in Oslo to sign a resolution urging their national governments to protect boys from non-therapeutic circumcision.

“As ombudsmen for children and experts in children’s health we consider circumcision of underage boys without a medical indication to be in conflict with the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, article 12, about children’s right to express their views about their own matters, and article 24, pt. 3, which says that children must be protected against traditional rituals that may be harmful to their health. … We consider it central that parental rights in this matter do not have precedence over children’s right to bodily integrity.”

On October 1, 2013, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution by an overwhelming majority which categorized non-therapeutic circumcision as a “violation of the physical integrity of children.” It called on its forty-seven member states to take educational, legislative, and policy measures toward protecting the best interests of the child in regard to male, female, and intersex genital cutting practices.

On October 10, 2013, the Nordic Association for Clinical Sexology endorsed the above two resolutions. Expressing their concern about the human rights aspects associated with the practice of non-therapeutic circumcision of young boys, they conclude,

“unless there are compelling medical reasons to operate before a boy reaches an age and a level of maturity at which he is capable of providing informed consent, the decision to alter the appearance, sensitivity, and functionality of the penis should be left to its owner, thus upholding his fundamental rights to protection and bodily integrity.”

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