CCPR131 > Finland questioned about Intersex Genital Mutilation, lack of access to justice for survivors

  CCPR 131st Online Session, 02.03.2021, 16:04h: Opening Statement by Head of Finnish Delegation, Krista Oinkonen (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). on FacebookIGM = Torture, NOT 'Discrimination' or 'Gender Identity'Last week, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRCttee) as the Treaty body monitoring the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) has examined the human rights record of Finland during its 131th Session (online only due to COVID-19), originally transmitted LIVE and now archived at
Session 1
| Session 2 | Session 3

A thematic intersex NGO report to the Committee by proved that IGM continues in Finland with impunity at the University Hospitals of Helsinki, Tampere, Kuopio, Turku and Oulu – despite that the Finnish Government pledges to protect intersex children from cosmetic genital surgery in its current Government Programme.

And a Joint NGO Report co-authored by Finnish intersex NGO Intersukupuolisten ihmisoikeudet – ISIO ry noted concerns that the Government, instead of taking action to prohibit non-vital surgery, will merely continue with discussions without consequences, namely within the upcoming working group to reform the Trans Act set up by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. The report also suggests to recommend to the Finnish Government to enact a law to prohibit non-vital surgeries and other medical interventions was following the Session LIVE, hoping the Committee will ask tough questions on IGM practices in Finland!

Session 3, Wed 3 March 2021, 16-18h CET

16:23h (Video @ 0:26:15): YAY!! Committee expert Ms. Hélène Tigroudja raises “non-consensual […], unnecessary medical surgeries” on intersex children! Notes Government Programme mentioned in State Report, asks about implementation, and lack judicial recourse and access to justice! :-) Unofficial Translation (from original French):

This brings me to question 9, the question about the situation of intersex persons or children. Here again the information we have received converges to say that there is a very serious problem in Finland of non-consensual and, above all, unnecessary medical surgeries. The NGOs report that too often these surgeries meet a social rather than a medical need, and indeed in the responses provided by the state some paragraphs of the report lack clarity on the safeguards taken to obtain the consent of the person concerned even when that person is a child.

My questions on this subject are therefore fairly simple. In paragraph 108 of the State report there is mention of a programme on the self-determination rights of intersex children which needs to be strengthened as stated in the State report. So can the delegation tell us how this plan is going to be concretely strengthened in terms of the effective protection of children’s self-determination, but also of their dignity, their integrity, their right to non-discrimination and, I would add, their right to access to justice, since the lack of judicial recourse against non-consensual procedures has also been very widely emphasised by civil society. More specifically, what guarantees, including procedural ones – and again, access to justice is an important element – what guarantees, including procedural ones, are in place to ensure that so-called corrective surgeries are not carried out without informed consent, and I stress the need for informed consent, so this need for precise medical information, and therefore informed consent from the patient, possibly informed consent from his parents, and so that, once again, the surgeries effectively respond to a medical or even vital imperative and not simply to a social imperative which itself conveys stereotypes.

17:07 (Video @ 1:10:33): Delegation member Ms. Ritva Halila (Senior Medical Officer, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health) non-answers on IGM, claims Helsinki University Hospital the only one to perform “feminsing” surgery, that doctors say no unnecessary surgery at all performed, promises more “discussions”, promptly referring to the working group to reform the Trans Act, but completely ignores the question about access to justice:-( Unofficial Transcript:

I would like to continue on the response to question about intersex children. After 2016 when national advisory board and social healthcare ethics published its statement the Ministry of social welfare and healthcare ethics have had a of health – Ministry of social welfare and healthcare has had regular communication with children hospital of the hospital district of Helsinki and Uusimaa that is the only hospital that makes surgical operations for persons that have been defined as girls.

Meanwhile the ministry of justice performed an expert report that has been mentioned also in the report of Finland one year ago.

The health care professionals in charge in the university hospital argue that no interventions are not made to correct the sex of the child and they also claim that non-medical interventions are not made.

However, as far as I understand and have heard along discussions with those people there is a clear disagreement in understanding which procedures are medically grounded, which procedures are necessary for the health of the child, and which procedures are cosmetics and they really claim – so I think that we need discussion on that.

Finland is nominating a working group by the end of march to amend the act of transgens, er, the rights of transgender persons and there is another person that will tell more about this. The task of the working group is also to evaluate how to discontinue cosmetic non-medical genital surgery for small intersex children. This working group will be multidisciplinary containing also representation of the NGOs involved in this discussion, and also an association of parents of intersex children. Thank you very much.” 

Let’s hope the Committee will issue strong binding recommendations, sternly reminding Finland of its non-derogable obligations under CCPR to effectively prevent genital mutilation of intersex children!

See also:
‘Only the Fear of the Judge Will Make IGM Perpetrators Change’
“Harmful Medical Practice”: UN, COE, ACHPR, IACHR condem IGM
50 UN Reprimands for IGM – and counting …
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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