“Inhuman Treatment”: UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) Condemns Intersex Genital Mutilations, Calls For Legislative Measures

Photo: UNHRC UPR #14, Geneva 20.10.2012

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookPress Release by StopIGM.org, 14.08.2015:

Heidi Walcutt (1997): 'STOP Intersex Genital Mutilation'Zwischengeschlecht.org warmly welcomes the historic 2015 “Concluding Observations” of the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) for Switzerland.
>>>  CAT/C/CHE/CO/7, PDF, french, on intersex p. 7, para. 20

We particularly appreciate the Committee specifically demanding “legislative, administrative and other necessary measures”, both to eliminate the practice and to ensure access to redress and compensation for survivors, as well as referencing both the recommendations by the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics (NEK-CNE) (underlining the need for legal revision including liability, criminal law and statutes of limitation) and the recent recommendations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) (CRC/C/CHE/CO/2-4, recognising IGM as a Harmful Practice).

And we are very pleased that the Committee further explicitly calls for an investigation into the hitherto existing, and also in Swiss children’s clinics still ongoing practice (so far only the Zurich University Children’s Clinic has started a process of coming to terms and historical reevaluation, so far without any support by the state), and last but not least for adequate psychosocial support for parents and persons concerned instead of non-consensual, mutilating genital surgery on defenceless children.

Now the Federal Government and Parliaments are called upon to finally stop beating around the bush, but – in consultation with intersex people and their organisations – to take expeditious and adequate legislative action – like the National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics already stipulated in 2012.

The fight of intersex people and their organisations for “bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination” and to eliminate IGM practices is far from over. However, the Concluding Observations by the Committee against Torture mark another important and most welcome step towards these goals – and a sign of hope for intersex children everywhere!

[ Unofficial translation of CAT recommendation 20 on intersex after the break ]

>>> Geneva 2015: UN Committee against Torture (CAT) criticises IGM Practices
2015 CAT NGO Report “Intersex Genital Mutilations” (PDF 3.46 MB)
2015 CAT Briefing “IGM as Torture or CIDT” (PDF 1.7 MB)
CAT 2011: Germany should investigate IGM Practices and compensate survivors!

The Concluding Observations on Intersex and IGM practices – unofficial translation from french (p. 7, para. 20):

Intersex People

20.    The Committee welcomes the decision of the Federal Council, to reply by the end of 2015 to the recommendations of the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics on unnecessary and sometimes irreversible surgical interventions performed on intersex people (persons with variations of sex anatomy) without prior informed and effective consent. However, the Committee notes with concern, that these interventions, which cause physical and psychological harm, hitherto didn’t lead to any investigation, sanction or reparations (art. 2, 12, 14 und 16).

Th Committee recommends the State Party with regards to the coming decision by the Federal Council::

a)    to undertake legislative, administrative and other necessary measures to ensure the bodily integrity of intersex people, and that no-one is submitted to medical or surgical sex assignment treatments during childhood, which do not constitute a medical emergency, as recommended by the Swiss National Advisory Commission on Biomedical Ethics and by the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC/C/CHECO/2-4, par. 43 b));

b)    to ensure access to psychosocial counselling and support for persons concerned and parents free of charge, and to inform them on the possibility to postpone any decision regarding unnecessary treatments until the person concerned can decide themselves;

c)    to investigate cases of medical or surgical treatments of intersex persons without their informed consent, and to undertake legislative measures to ensure redress for victims, including adequate compensation.

The international human rights NGO StopIGM.org demands the prohibition of forced genital surgeries on children and adolescents with ‘atypical’ sex anatomy and “Human Rights for Hermaphrodites too!”

Persons concerned shall later decide themselves, if they want surgeries or not, and if yes, which.

Kind regards

Daniela “Nella” Truffer, Markus Bauer
Founding members human rights NGO Zwischengeschlecht.org / StopIGM.org

Mobile +41 (0) 76 398 06 50
Mobile +41 (0) 78 829 12 60



2015 NGO Report to the Committee against Torture (CAT)
Documents 17 common forms of IGM and acquiescence by the state
Intersex Genital Mutilations
Human Rights Violations Of Persons With Variations Of Sex Anatomy
>>> Download PDF (3.46 MB)

IGM as Torture or CIDT: 2015 UN-CAT Briefing
1.  Personal Testimony – A Survivor’s Perspective
2.  IGM Practices as Torture or Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrating Treatment (CIDT)       3.  Recommendations
>>> Download PDF (1.7 MB)   >>> Text only DOC 

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