Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy 2020

 

May 7th - WORLDWIDE DAY OF GENITAL AUTONOMY –

8th Anniversary of the Cologne Ruling

 

This will be the eighth anniversary of the "Cologne Ruling". In 2012, for the first time, a court explicitly granted boys the right to genital self-determination by concluding that medically unnecessary foreskin removal ("circumcision") from a boy is an offense. This decision has since become a worldwide beacon for the self-determination of children regardless of gender, ancestry or religion.

 

This year's main focus is:

 

The History of Education about Genital Self-determination

Traditional initiatives to protect children, so that they can decide for themselves about their genitals, go back many centuries.  The declaration of general human rights and finally the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have provided a basis for developments in recent decades worldwide.  WWDOGA will look back, will collect testimonials, and will actively promote child protection in the present and future!

The "World Day of Genital Autonomy" calls for:

  • Adherence to and implementation of the UN-Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 2 (protection against discrimination); Article 3 (precedence of children's well-being); and Article 24 Paragraph 3 (abolishment of traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children).
  • Legislatives initiatives worldwide that provide for the protection of all children, regardless of gender, from non-therapeutic genital operations.
  • Protection of children with atypical sex characteristics from genital surgery and intervention without absolute medical indication.
  • An immediate stop to group or mass circumcision of minor males (boys) for alleged HIV prevention in African countries.
  • Public research and education on the consequences of non-therapeutic genital surgery on children in its different forms and social contexts.

 

The History of Education about Genital Self-determination

Initiatives to end female genital mutilation (FGM) go back to Africa at the beginning of the 20th century. The Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children (IAC) was founded in 1984.  Through the joint efforts of the IAC from the southern hemisphere, and women's and human rights organizations from the northern hemisphere, FGM has been included on the agenda at UN conferences and more and more often at several international conventions on human rights protection. The WHO has advocated for the total abolition of FGM since the 1990s. The book “Desert Flower” by the Ethiopian model Waris Dirie finally attracted worldwide attention in 1998, and was also a great success as a film.
Beginning in the Middle Ages the famous rabbi, doctor, and philosopher Maimonides (12th century) mentioned restrictive consequences for sexuality due to foreskin amputations.  In the 19th and 20th centuries a medicalization of foreskin amputations of boys lead to a mass phenomenon, especially in Anglo-Saxon cultures.  Since the turn of the millennium, medical associations have increasingly researched and published their findings on the functions and development of the human foreskin, and affected people have increasingly been speaking up.
In ancient times, intersex people were worshiped in some cultures as members of a third gender or even as saints or oracles. By contrast, societies shaped by Abrahamic religions largely introduced a binary human image system, i.e. based on only male and female.  Genital-defining operations on intersex young children have been criticized by those affected and by progressive physicians since the 1990s. In many countries there is political and social debate today about enabling intersex people to make their own gender registrations and to prohibit genital-norming operations.

 

When will girls finally be protected?

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. The practice is internationally recognized in every form as a serious human rights violation and is still practiced worldwide: in 29 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in South, Southeast and Central Asia, as well as in Europe, the US and Canada. Particularly in Asia, surgeries done by medical staff are increasing, leading to repeated calls for legal acquiescence - which clearly contradicts the WHO.

 

Boys own their genitals themselves, too

The trivializing term “circumcision” 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. Possible psychological late effects have also increasingly been documented. Total foreskin removal is medically avoidable except in very rare cases. A snug or non-retractile foreskin does not constitute a medical condition in children and adolescents if a boy has no painful obstruction, which is a rare condition. Usually the opening becomes wider until the end of puberty. In instances of an actual medical condition, most cases can be treated non-invasively.

 

Suffering and trauma of intersex-children due to genital surgery without their own consent

One or two out of every 1000 children are born with "atypical" sexual characteristics. Time and again this leads to early genital operations to “assign” a gender, and to hormonal treatments before capacity to consent. The affected persons often report feeling altered and resentful that their input was never sought about their own sex. All German paediatric associations currently recommend delaying those measures to an age where the person affected is able to give informed consent. On the international level, as well, the technical discussion is moving in this direction. However, physical integrity and self-determination must still be integrated into practice in many places. For 20 years, people affected have been publicly protesting these surgeries, which they describe in terms of fundamental human rights violations, as being traumatising and as destructive to sexual sensation. These are allegations that are also backed by human rights committees like the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UN CRC).

 

Discrimination against transsexual people

Trans* people often want to match their physical characteristics to their true gender by surgery. If a vulva is to be formed from a penis, without the foreskin ideal tissue is missing to a considerable extent.

 

The Cologne Ruling

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? The German Bundestag decided on 12.12.2012, in a rushed proceeding in response to the Cologne ruling, that parents can assent for any reason to a "circumcision" of their boys. 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.

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.

 

There is no room for hatred and misanthropy!

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.

 

Appealing for the WORLDWIDE DAY OF GENITAL AUTONOMY are (as of Feb 28th, 2020):