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Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy

On May 7th we celebrate the 1st anniversary of the "Cologne Judgment", which marked the beginning of the German debate about children's right to genital integrity in 2012.

The Cologne Judgment

On May 7th, 2012, a court in Cologne, Germany, decided in a case concerning “Dr K” and the law regulating medical practitioners that a non-therapeutic circumcision performed on a 4-year-old boy was a criminal offense.

For the first time a German court declared the law to be that boys do have a right to genital integrity and sexual self-determination, and that a forced circumcision violates those rights.

The Court held that under German law, children have an inalienable right to protection from genital mutilation of any kind, regardless of gender, ancestry or religion.

Under Germany’s Basic Law, children have the right to a non-violent upbringing - why should this right not include their most private parts?

The Bundestag, however, decided to abolish this right, and on December 12 2012 passed a bill declaring all forms of male circumcisions legal regardless of the motivation. They are now part of the custody laws, making the infliction of bodily harm a part of nurturing and parental responsibility

Are male and female genital mutilation comparable?

Unlike the removal of male children's foreskins, all forms of genital mutilation or cutting done to girls is still strictly prohibited. This includes the lesser invasive forms of FGM/C with a medically similar amount of tissue loss, or no tissue loss at all.

Despite this, NGOs estimate that up to 50.000 girls in Germany are threatened by FGM/C. To date, not a single case has led to legal proceedings, and protection of the doctor's confidentiality is still in place.

In the long run, it will not be possible to uphold the separation of comparable mutilations done to children based on their gender, legally nor ethically, and to treat one as a criminal offense, while the other is considered a valuable cultural good.

Girls and boys worldwide are threatened by violations of their sexual self-determination. It's never the children that ask to have a "corrective" surgery performed on their genitals, it's adults that force it upon them - sometimes under excruciating conditions.

This is not about criminalizing the parents, no one doubts their love for their offspring.

This is not about damaging religion or tradition in itself, but about having them conform to modern medical facts and ethical views.

This is about education about the consequences of genital mutilation, to break the vicious cycle of experienced violence and violence passed on from generation to generation

Human rights are inalienable and cannot be divided.

With §1631d BGB - passed by the German Bundestag on Dec. 12th, 2012 - the right to genital integrity in Germany has now become a question of sex and racial and ethnic discrimination

Unlike girls, boys are not protected from non-therapeutic surgery on their genital organs. The law does neither explicitly require a sufficient anesthetization, nor does it regard to the variety to different depths of intrusion.

On boys younger then six months, non-medical staff may perform foreskin amputations, and the law only requires the parent's intention to have the operation performed to medical standards.

The law leaves a lot of uncertainties due to its formulation, thus making it nearly impossible for victims of forced circumcision to ever press legal charges or seek compensation in the future for their physical or the psychological harm.

Our demands

On the occasion of the Cologne Judgment’s 1st anniversary we demand:

  • protection of all children worldwide from violations of their bodily and sexual integrity
  • immediate repeal of §1631d BGB and the introduction of a 2-year "round table", to together a balanced mix of doctors, jurists, psychologists, representatives of religious groups, representatives of child rights and human rights organizations and members of victim's organizations to consider how to protect the equal rights of children
  • a regulation in the meantime, which authorizes circumcisions of male children under strict and compulsory rules (including the presence of a medical doctor, sufficient anesthetization, documentation and evaluation of all operations performed)
  • allocation of funds for thorough scientific research on all adverse consequences to the child of both female and male genital mutilation and all benefits of retaining healthy genitals in their original state,