On March 24th 2021 the European Commission published the EU Strategy on the Rights of the Child. The strategy addresses key areas of children’s rights in the EU, including, but not limited to, socio-economic inclusion, health and education and protection against violence. It also explicitly addresses the rights of intersex children.
- recognizes IGM (intersex genital mutilation) as violence against the intersex individual, and, like with FGM (female genital mutilation), points to the strong need to end these harmful practices
- acknowledges the similarities between intersex genital mutilation and female genital mutilation by noting that “more than 200 million women and girls worldwide are survivors of FGM, including over 600.000 in the EU. 62% of intersex people who had undergone a surgery said neither they nor their parents gave fully informed consent before medical treatment or intervention to modify their sex characteristics”.
- includes as a key action to ending IGM – “support the exchange of good practices on ending non-vital surgery and medical intervention on intersex infants and adolescents to make them fit the typical definition of male or female without their or their parents’ fully informed consent”
- explicitly acknowledges the specific discrimination faced by LGBTI children
- highlights the fact that LGBTI students are overproportionally affected by physical, verbal or relational bullying, with 51% of 15-17 years old respondents to the 2019 FRA LGBTI Survey reporting harassment in school
“This strategy is a very important step for the European Union”, says Dan Christian Ghattas, Executive Director of OII Europe, and continues: “We highly welcome the recognition of intersex children’s rights and we applaud the European Commission for reaffirming that it is high time to end non-vital surgery and medical interventions on intersex infants and children. We are also excited to see that, for the first time in the same document, the EU recognizes both female genital mutilation and intersex genital mutilation as two serious forms of violence against children. By doing this the strategy also makes an important point about bodily integrity of children and the need for all of us to join together in the fight against these harmful practices”.
“The strategy shows a clear understanding of the issues at stake and the need to protect intersex children from being subjected to non-vital surgeries and interventions”, adds Miriam van der Have, Co-Chair of OII Europe, and continues: “A child’s parent or legal guardian should not be put into a position where they can take decisions on behalf of their child about interventions that are, in fact, a violation of their child’s human rights.”
Kitty Anderson, Co-Chair of OII Europe, continues: “Having the chapter about combating violence against children and including intersex children’s rights explicitly in the child protection shows the commitment of the EU to protect intersex children from human rights violations. The strategy promises that ‘the Commission will monitor the implementation of the strategy at EU and national level’ and we are looking forward to supporting the EU institution in this important work. Intersex rights are human rights and it’s time to end human rights violations of intersex children”.
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