Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy 2019



7th Anniversary of the Cologne Ruling


This will be the seventh 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:


USA – A genital cutting “culture”?

At least 50% of all newborn boys still get their foreskin removed there, usually without adequate anesthesia. As obvious in countless examples, even in the trivial media such as movies and soaps, it is common to refer to complete male genitalia as "dirty", "ugly" and "disease-prone". Does this ultimately endanger the protection of girls and intersex children? The 7th of May takes a closer look!

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.


USA: "A personal choice"? - For whom?

The USA is the only nation in the western world where foreskin amputations on newborn boys are established as a routine medical measure, although rates are declining. This tradition has its origin in the sexual hostility of the 19th century, as reflected in the statement of the physician John Harvey Kellogg (1888), which also mentioned girls: "A remedy for masturbation, which is almost always successful in young boys, is circumcision. Surgery should be performed by a doctor without anesthetic, because the short pain has a curative effect, especially if it is associated with thoughts of punishment. For girls (...), treating the clitoris with undiluted carbolic acid is a great way to reduce unnatural excitement.“ Since then, the justifications have always adapted to the respective times and habits and circumcision became culturally established. For decades, including significant initiative of people with a Jewish background, a protest movement was formed; including research, literature, regular public actions (f.e."bloodstained men") and other work by numerous organizations. Female genital mutilation was never widespread in America, yet it was practiced. It became more rare after health insurance companies ceased paying for so-called "clitoridectomies" in the early 1970s. The influential US pediatric organization AAP recently proposed allowing so-called "ritual nicks" in 2010. In the current first US federal and state lawsuit against cases of female genital mutilation carried out by physicians, it turns out to be impossible to counter the demands of the defense for "equal treatment" of the sexes without contradiction. For the self-determination of intersexual children, no agreement has yet been reached among medical, legal and ethical experts. At least one hopeful sign is that the state of California has recently passed a resolution recommending that medically unnecessary surgeries no longer be performed on children with healthy, but ambiguous, genitalia.


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 6th, 2019):