This will be the fourth anniversary of the "Cologne Ruling". In 2012, for the first time, a court explicitly granted boys the right to genital self-determination, and this decision has since become a worldwide symbol for the self-determination of children regardless of gender, ancestry or religion.
On this occasion we demand:
On May 7th, 2012, the Regional Court of Cologne ruled that a non-therapeutic "circumcision" of a boy who is unable to give consent qualifies as an assault. This was logically consistent because, in Germany, children had rights to an unharmed body and a non-violent upbringing – why should these rights exclude genitalia, and exclusively male ones at that?
What is a so-called "circumcision" on boys?
This trivializing term stands for the amputation of the foreskin of the penis, which involves the loss of approximately 50% of the entire penile skin - including the parts most sensitive for sexual stimulation - and irreversibly alters the natural physiology of the penis and its appearance.
A human rights violation becomes a legal part of upbringing
The Bundestag, however, decided differently, and on Dec. 12th, 2012, §1631d of the German Civil Code was passed: "circumcision" of boys, for whatever cause, was specifically legalized. With the passage of this law, circumcision is considered part of personal custody. This is a complete contradiction to the full legal protection of children and is discordant with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in multiple ways.
Female genital mutilation is a prevalent procedure: it is practised in 29 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa as well as in South-, South-East- and Central Asia. But even in Europe, the USA and Canada, women and girls still have their genitals mutilated. This is commonly done between the ages of 4 and 12 years. Worldwide, approximately 140 million women and girls are affected. 700.000 of them live in Europe; 35.000 in Germany alone.
Female genital mutilation is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) into four categories, from light to extreme. According to the WHO, female genital mutilation refers to all practices in which the outer genitalia are partly or completely removed, as well as to all other injuries to the female genitalia that are not medically indicated.
Depending on the motives and category of cutting, the intervention leads to health, psychological, social and economic consequences for the affected parties. Female genital mutilation is internationally considered a human rights violation; gender specific violence; child abuse; and bodily assault, and is explicitly illegal in most countries. However, 3 million women and girls in Africa, 180.000 in Europe and 6.000 in Germany remain at risk every year.
The suspension of boys' rights by law has definitely not brought the public debate to an end. More and more affected men find the courage to talk about the psychological and physical late effects of their loss. The inter-cultural dialogue concerning this often anxiety-laden and taboo subject spurs new and ongoing initiatives, and is increasingly appreciated and embraced in medical science. Some hospitals already have stopped performing foreskin removals without a medical indication. Instead, parents are offered deeper education about the sexual-sensory function of the foreskin. A symptom-free snug foreskin does not constitute a medical condition in children and adolescents: often the opening does not becomes wider until puberty. In instances of an actual medical condition, most cases can be treated with non-invasive therapy.
Dead and severely injured boys in Africa - the worldwide community remains silent
Time and again, the media report hundreds of thousands severely injured and dead boys during ritual foreskin amputations in Africa. “Health" programmes based on highly controversial studies call for the ”circumcision" of millions of Africans allegedly for HIV-prevention - even including babies and children, as openly endorsed and promoted by UNICEF and others. Informed consent and legitimate education about the risks and the alternatives are rarely properly incorporated into these programmes (see GEO Magazine 07/15).
In the United States, 50-70% of all newborn boys are still submitted to forced circumcision, mostly without effective anaesthesia. This percentage, however, is slowly declining.
One to two out of every 1000 children are born with "atypical" sexual characteristics. Time and again this leads to medically unnecessary, irreversible genital surgery and further "treatments", among them "masculinising" interventions ("hypospadias correction”, etc.), "feminising" interventions (partial clitoris amputation), sterilisation, administering of hormones, repeated unnecessary genital examinations, medical exhibition of the subjects, insufficient education and a need for secrecy.
For 20 years, people affected have been publicly protesting these surgeries, which they describe in terms of fundamental human rights violations, as traumatising and destructive to sexual sensation. These are allegations that are also backed by human rights committees: the UN-Committee on the Rights of the Child has repeatedly assessed intersex-treatments without the personal consent of the affected as a "harmful practise", and the UN-Committee Against Torture called it "inhumane treatment" that merits classification as torture.
All German paediatric associations currently recommend delaying those measures to an age where the person affected is able to give informed consent. Politicians now need to introduce and back initiatives against discrimination toward inter-sexual children: every healthy child has a right to grow up the way he or she was born.
Our info-page can be found HERE. It contains onward links to specific literature from Germany, Turkey, the USA and other countries; case histories of affected people; films; educational books and brochures; and videos from speeches by international scientists.
We welcome Jewish and Islamic life in Germany and consider it an enriching element of society.
We strongly object to any attempts to misconstrue our efforts on behalf of the rights of all children to genital self-determination, or to misuse these efforts as a basis to profess or carry out hatred toward religious and cultural minorities.
We urge all participants to clearly distance themselves from generalizations and animosity and to be absolutely clear that this is solely about the well-being, bodily integrity, and right to self-determination of children.
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