Intersex Awareness Day 2019: Protest against Intersex Genital Mutilations at Geneva University Hospitals (HUG)

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Photo: Nonviolent intersex protest by, Geneva 2 February 2009   #CEDAW43

IGM = CRIME, Not 'Health Care' or 'Therapy'! on FacebookOn 26 October, intersex people, IGM survivors, partners, families, friends and allies around the globe celebrate Intersex Awareness Day (IAD), commemorating the very first INTERSEX PROTEST in Boston in 1996 against the annual convention of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and in support of over 25 Years of Organised Struggle to End INTERSEX GENITAL MUTILATIONS (IGM).

On the occasion of this year’s Intersex Awareness Day, on October 26 the human rights group, active in Geneva since 2008, is organising two peaceful vigils to protest the persistence of IGM practices at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG).

  • from 11am to 2pm in front of the HUG who continue to practice intersex genital mutilation despite condemnations by the National Ethics Commission (NEK-CNE) and the UN Committees CRC, CEDAW, CAT, CCPR, CRPD, and Motions 2491 and 2541 of the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva

In public, the HUG insist that IGM practices have been completely abandoned since 2012 “at least in the period of early childhood”,[1] but nevertheless refuse to disclose data on relevant procedures.[2] At the same time, the HUG advertise IGM practices on their website: “The ideal age for performing the surgery is between 1 and 2 years. “,[3] and also in a recent Geneva University thesis by a paediatric surgeon from the HUG, illustrated by surgical photos of small genitalia of mutilated children[4].

To this day, children with variations of sex development are submitted to intersex genital mutilation (IGM), including “masculinising” or “feminising” genital surgery, sterilising procedures and other non-consensual, unnecessary and irreversible treatments, usually performed before the age of 2, and paid for by the Swiss Federal Invalidity Insurance (IV) in Switzerland. Although the people concerned have been protesting and deploring for decades the severe physical and mental pain and suffering caused by these interventions, which continue to be practiced without proof of benefit for the children concerned.

These mutilations also continue at the HUG with impunity, in spite of two recent Motions 2491 and 2541[5] at the Grand Council of the Canton of Geneva calling for a ban on the practice, the National Ethics Commission (NEK-CNE) having condemned the practice and the UN having already condemned Switzerland four times for intersex genital mutilation: the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Committee against Torture (CAT) in 2015, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 2016, and the Human Rights Committee (CCPR) in 2017, all of them condemning IGM as a harmful practice, inhuman treatment and non-consensual medical or scientific experimentation.[6] : Who are we?, founded in 2007, is an international intersex human rights NGO based in Switzerland, led by intersex people, their partners, families and friends.[7] According to its charter,[8] is working to raise awareness, end human rights violations against intersex people and support those seeking redress and justice. regularly submits reports on human rights violations in different countries to the relevant UN Committees, often in collaboration with local intersex individuals and organisations,[9] making a decisive contribution to the currently 46 Concluding Observations of UN Treaty bodies recognising IGM as a serious violation of non-derogable human rights[10].

In Switzerland, initiated or supported political initiatives in the Cantons of Zurich, Bern, Basel, Lucerne and Geneva, as well as in the National Council and the Council of States, resulting in the adoption of a position by the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK-CNE) and a research project of the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) on the historical treatment for children with variations of sex development[11].

In Geneva, has been active since 2008.[12][13][14][15][16]

[1]  Commission des Droits de l’Homme (droits de la personne) du Grand Conseil de Genève (2018), V. Audition du Dr Jacques Birraux, chirurgien pédiatrique, le 29 novembre 2018, p. 35,

[2]  « Même si cela semble absurde, nous n’avons pas de chiffres, souligne le Docteur Jacques Birraux. Nous aurons besoin d’une décennie pour avoir des chiffres suisses. », 20minutes (18.04.2019),–gigantesque-pas-en-avant–pour-les-intersexes-26455395

[3]  Pour des références et plus d’exemples, voir Soumission au Grand Conseil (26.9.2018), p. 8-9,

[4]  Jacques Maurice Birraux, Thèse (2018) : « Management of disorders of sexual development: state of the art – a surgeon’s perspective of western Switzerland », p. 37, 33-35 dans la thèse, p. 40, 30-32 en PDF,

[5]  Motion 2491 « pour en finir avec les mutilations des personnes intersexes »,
Motion 2541 « Plus jamais de mutilations pratiquées sur des personnes intersexes »,

[6]  CRC/C/CHE/CO/2-4, paras 42–43; CAT/C/CHE/CO/7, para 20; CEDAW/C/CHE/CO/4-5, paras 24-25; CCPR/C/CHE/CO/4, paras 24-25

[7]  Pages françaises:
English pages:
Seiten auf Deutsch:





[12]  Le Matin Dimanche (17.05.2008), Geneviève Comby, « Les médecins ont décidé que je serai une fille »,

[13]  Tribune de Genève (30.01.2009), Hermaphrodisme, faut-il se soumettre au bistouri?,

[14], Le Journal (11.10.2009), Le droit de choisir,

[15]  Tribune de Genève (02.08.2015), Caroline Zuercher, « Les docteurs ne pouvaient pas dire si j’étais un garçon ou une fille »,


•  Intersex Awareness Day 2013
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2015
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2016
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2017
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2018
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2019
•  Intersex Awareness Day 2023

See also:
46 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
UN Committee for the Rights of the Child (CRC): IGM = Harmful Practice + Violence
UN Committee against Torture (CAT): IGM = Inhuman Treatment or Torture
UN Women’s Rights Committee (CEDAW): IGM = Harmful Practice
UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD): Violation of Integrity
UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) condemns IGM Practices

IGM as a Harmful Practice: 2015 UN-CRC Briefing
• IGM: A Survivor’s Perspective • Intersex Movement History
• What are Variations of Sex Anatomy?  • What are IGM Practices?
• IGM and Human Rights  • Conclusion: IGM is a Harmful Practice
>>> Download PDF (3.14 MB)     >>> Table of Contents

Eliminating IGM practices by holding the perpetrators accountable via well-established applicable human rights frameworks, including Inhuman Treatment and Harmful Practices – Presentation @ UN expert meeting on Intersex Human Rights
>>> Download PDF (831kb)

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