Worldwide Day of Genital Autonomy 2014


This is the second 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 and religion.

On this occasion we demand:

  • protection of all children worldwide from any violation of their bodily and sexual integrity;
  • abandonment of legal permission to perform non-therapeutic foreskin amputations ("circumcisions") on boys, as well as compensation to the affected for their loss of rights due to this law;
  • adherence to and implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child Article 24 Paragraph 3 (abolishment of traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children) in European and German law - for all children, regardless of gender, ancestry and religion;
  • extension of the law on criminal prosecution of genital mutilation by adding punitive measures for acts performed abroad;
  • increased protection of children and juveniles from non-therapeutic surgery in the amendment to the law on patients’ rights; and
  • allocation of funds for further research into lifelong effects of genital mutilation of children

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.

For the first time, a German court stated clearly that boys have a right to bodily and sexual self-determination, which so-called "circumcision" clearly violates as it involves the amputation of the male foreskin – which in childhood on average removes 50% of the mobile skin of the penis.

Thereby all children, regardless of gender, ancestry and religion, were protected from any form of genital mutilation. This applied without exemptions.

The Bundestag, however, decided differently, and on Dec. 12th, 2012, §1631d BGB was passed: "circumcision" of boys, for whatever cause, was specifically legalized. With the passage of this law, circumcision is considered part of personal custody – legitimizing assault as part of upbringing!

In Germany, children are entitled to a non-violent upbringing – why should this right exclude boys’ genitalia ?

Are girls really protected from genital mutilation in Germany?

A new statutory offense for female genital mutilation introduced in July 2013 (§226a StGB) makes – at least on paper – any form of non-therapeutic surgery performed on girls’ and women's genitalia a crime. This includes forms that far exceed the invasiveness of foreskin amputation, as well as those that, judged by objective medical criteria, are comparably or even less invasive (meaning they inflict an equally large, a smaller or no loss of tissue).

Nevertheless, it is estimated by TERRE DES FEMMES that at least 2500 girls living in Germany are at risk for genital mutilation. To date, not a single case has led to a court decision. Demands of women’s- and human-rights organizations to include punishment for acts performed abroad have not been met in §226a StGB.

Numerous experts on jurisprudence consider §226a StGB to be in violation of the constitution, as it links the legal assessment of genital mutilation to the condition that the victims are girls or women. This violates several basic rights and should, like the legalization of forced circumcision of boys, not withstand scrutiny by the Constitutional Court.

Girls and women need reliable protection! This can only be achieved by granting equal rights to bodily and sexual self-determination to all children - worldwide and without exception.

Eighteen months of "Circumcision Law": is this "legal peace"?

Since the "Circumcision Law" came into effect on Dec. 28th, 2012, boys may be "circumcised" on their parents’ demand, for any reason. Males do not even get any chance to take legal action once they reach legal maturity. According to the law, the surgery must be performed according to "rules of medical art" and with sufficient anaesthetization. Without a thorough enumeration of the risks and late effects of childhood foreskin amputation, the surgery cannot be legal and remains a criminal and civil offense.

We request that the members of the German Bundestag confront the situation of affected boys.

On the internet, "circumcisers" openly advertise foreskin amputation of newborn boys without proper analgesia or anaesthesia. Alleged "benefits" of incomplete genitalia are being propagated, without mentioning the risks and especially disadvantages to the affected children and later adults.

Public prosecutors do not even protect boys from potentially life-threatening practices like the metzitzah b'peh (oral suction of blood from the fresh wound on the penis) - lawsuits regarding this are being dismissed. The high number of complications on record from pediatric aftercare remains unchanged.

The acceptance of the legalization of foreskin amputation has always been justified through conditions on surgery, which supposedly are in favor of the child's well-being. However, since the Bundestag rejected any form of mandatory documentation and even an evaluation of the law, no independent medical or judicial authority can ensure compliance with these basic conditions.

The "Circumcision Law" only serves to protect adults. Affected boys, in contrast, have been stripped of each and every right and left helpless for life with the consequences.

More and more affected men find the courage to talk about the physical and psychological later effects of the foreskin amputations that were performed on them without their consent. They often consider their genitals mutilated. They feel that they have been robbed of their intact, unharmed body, in the most intimate location - without necessity or for questionable reasons (such as the still common cases where a too early and hastily diagnosed phimosis led to the surgery). In many cases men report pain, the loss of sexual sensitivity, and profound problems in their sexual life. Talking about bodily harm in the genital area is never easy, even – perhaps especially – for men.

We urge the appropriate medical disciplines to be open toward these problem areas and offer help to the affected.

There must be no opportunity for hate and misanthropy!

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 for the rights of all children to genital self-determination, or misuse these efforts as a basis to show or act out hatred toward religious and cultural minorities.

We urge all participants to clearly distance themselves from generalizations and animosity and to be absoutely clear that this is solely about the well-being, bodily integrity, and right to self-determination of the child.