UN committee against torture

Thanks to StopIGM.org for alerting us to this encouraging news from the United Nations.

The UN-Committee against Torture (CAT) started an investigation of Intersex Genital Mutilations (IGM) in both the USA and Australia under Art. 16 of the Convention (“inhuman treatment” falling under the prohibition of torture). The Committee has formally asked the U.S. and Australia to provide statistics on IGM and to “indicate which criminal or civil remedies are available for people who have undergone involuntary sterilisation or unnecessary and irreversible medical or surgical treatment”.

Both State parties have now to explain themselves to the Committee in written reports due in 2017. Thereafter the Committee will review both states in Geneva. Considering that both the U.S. and Australia are major IGM perpetrators allowing and directly funding the mutilations, intersex advocates are again expecting stern reprimands for both states (see UN-Reprimands for IGM).

The Committee is acting on NGO reports submitted by intersex advocacy organisations
InterACT and OII Australia substantiating the ongoing practice in both countries.


Links to the NGO reports and the full questions by the Committee on Intersex and IGM within their “List of Issues” to both states on the StopIGM.org blog.

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New trustee

We are very pleased to announce that Dr Mitchell Travis has agreed to join the Genital Autonomy board of trustees. Dr Travis is a law lecturer at the University of Leeds and member of the Centre for Law and Social Justice. His work revolves around bodily integrity, intersex rights and equality. He has been published in Medical Law Review, European Law Review and the International Journal of the Legal Profession. Mitchell has received grants from the Socio-Legal Studies Association and The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs.
Dr Travis says:

‘I am delighted to be working with Genital Autonomy. They are an organisation that I have admired for many years and was very pleased to be part of their successful summer conference. I hope to continue the good work that Genital Autonomy has done around the prohibition of intersex surgeries and look forward to working with them as a Trustee.’

Genital Autonomy is delighted to welcome Dr Travis.

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Stop Intersex Genital Mutilation

This video was recorded at the Genital Autonomy – Intaktiv symposium in May 2015. Markus Bauer from StopIGM.org details the ethical and physical problems faced by people born with variations of sexual anatomy, often refered to as intersex.


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Successful symposium

The symposium at Keele University created new links and put many faces to names. Thanks to all those involved in the organisation of the event and to James for this group photo.


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Female genital alteration: a compromise solution — Arora and Jacobs — Journal of Medical Ethics

Arora and Jacobs, who have advocated tolerance of male circumcision, write in the present Journal of Medical Ethics advocating tolerance of minimal FGM.

J Med Ethics doi:10.1136/medethics-2014-102375
  • Feature article
  • Paper

Female genital alteration: a compromise solution

  1. Kavita Shah Arora1,2,
  2. Allan J Jacobs3

+ Author Affiliations

  1. 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

  2. 2Department of Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

  3. 3Director of Gynecologic Oncology at Coney Island Hospital, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Associate Faculty in Bioethics, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kavita Shah Arora, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, MetroHealth Medical Center, 2500 MetroHealth Drive, G230E, Cleveland, OH 44109, USA; Kavita.shah.arora@gmail.com
  • Received 17 July 2014
  • Revised 24 February 2015
  • Accepted 21 July 2015
  • Published Online First 22 February 2016


Despite 30 years of advocacy, the prevalence of non-therapeutic female genital alteration (FGA) in minors is stable in many countries. Educational efforts have minimally changed the prevalence of this procedure in regions where it has been widely practiced. In order to better protect female children from the serious and long-term harms of some types of non-therapeutic FGA, we must adopt a more nuanced position that acknowledges a wide spectrum of procedures that alter female genitalia. We offer a revised categorisation for non-therapeutic FGA that groups procedures by effect and not by process. Acceptance of de minimis procedures that generally do not carry long-term medical risks is culturally sensitive, does not discriminate on the basis of gender, and does not violate human rights. More morbid procedures should not be performed. However, accepting de minimis non-therapeutic f FGA procedures enhances the effort of compassionate practitioners searching for a compromise position that respects cultural differences but protects the health of their patients.

Source: Female genital alteration: a compromise solution — Arora and Jacobs — Journal of Medical Ethics

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Foreskin ethics.

Video of a clear and authoritative talk given to the Genital Autonomy and Intaktiv conference “Myths and multiple standards” in Frankfurt May 2015.

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Insights from the outside

Video of a presentation on effective political activism to promote the rights of children to grow up free from sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and non-therapeutic genital cutting.

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Committee Against Torture

Switzerland Monday 3rd of August.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) explicitly criticised the surgery on intersex children that still takes place in Swiss hospitals and clinics. The criticism referred to earlier reports from CAT, CEDAW (The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women), the Special Rapporteur on Torture and the CRC (Convention on the Rights of the Child) which recently included Intersex Genital Mutilation (IGM) as a one of a range of harmful practices.

The Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture concerning Switzerland are due on the 14th of August 2015. Genital Autonomy and StopIGM.org are hoping for a powerful statement in the Concluding Observations condemning IGM practices.

DSC_1982crop640wPhoto – Dublin Sept 2014

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