UN-CRC reprimands Portugal for Intersex Genital Mutilation

Photo: Markus Bauer and Daniela Truffer (StopIGM.org) with the thematic intersex NGO report on Portugal
at the 82nd CRC Session, Palais Wilson, Geneva 20.09.2019

Zwischengeschlecht.org on FacebookPress Release by StopIGM.org, 03.10.2019:

Portugal is another self-declared “intersex human rights champion” that, after recently having adopted legislation aimed at protecting intersex children from IGM practices, now claims to have abolished the practice altogether, echoing similar legislation and claims from Malta.

However, as documented in evidence submitted to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) by StopIGM.org, in both countries all forms of IGM persist with impunity, advocated and paid for by the State. When asked about the obviously continuing mutilations by CRC in Geneva, both Portugal and Malta tried to change the subject, non-answering on “international medical standards” and “transgender legislation” instead. Fortunately, the Committee refused to have the wool pulled over its eyes.

After concluding its 82nd session, CRC has now reprimanded Portugal (and Australia) for IGM practices – just like Malta after the previous session.

In its binding Concluding Observations, the Committee unmistakably condemns IGM in Portugal as a “harmful practice” according to art. 24 (3) of the Convention (just like FGM, which is also covered in the same paragraph of the Concluding Observations), further referring to the CRC-CEDAW Joint General Comment No. 18/31 “on harmful practices” and target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (“eliminate all harmful practices”).

StopIGM.org welcomes these clear verdicts, marking

  • the very 1st UN reprimand for IGM to Portugal
  • the 23rd UN reprimand for IGM to an EU country
  • now 13 EU countries reprimanded for IGM
  • the 15th and 16th reprimand for IGM by UN CRC
  • in total 46 UN Treaty body reprimands for IGM so far 
  • now 26 states reprimanded in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

With now both alleged “intersex human rights champions” Malta and Portugal unmasked and reprimanded by CRC, the question remains:

All those who so far inconsiderately and uncritically praised Malta’s and Portugal’s (and others’) tokenist legislation claiming to help but in fact harming intersex children – will they now finally do the right thing and demand effective legislation criminalising IGM and addressing obstacles to redress and justice for IGM survivors, namely the statutes of limitation, in line with CRC, CEDAW, CAT, CRPD, CCPR, the Joint General Comment “on harmful practices”, … ?

CRC82: Full Binding Intersex Recommendations to Portugal

>>> Download full Concl Obs: CRC/C/PRT/CO/5-6 –> para 28 (b)
>>> Full Intersex NGO Report by StopIGM.org (PDF, 942 kb)
>>> Report from Session in Geneva   >>> UN Press Release on Session
>>> Open Letter of Concern about Malta and Portugal to EU Commission

‘E. Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)

Harmful practices  [art. 24 (3)]

28. With reference to its joint general recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women/general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on harmful practices (2014) and taking note of target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Committee urges the State party to:


(b) Continue to implement measures, including legal and administrative, to guarantee that no child, including intersex, is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment, during infancy or childhood, in line with the rights of children to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination, and provide social, medical and psychological services, where necessary, as well as adequate counselling, support and reparations to families with intersex children.’

CRC82: Full Binding Intersex Recommendations to Australia

>>> Download full Concl Obs: CRC/C/AUS/CO/5-6 –> para 31 (b)

‘D. Violence against children (arts. 19, 24 (3), 28 (2), 34, 37 (a) and 39)

Harmful practices  [art. 24 (3)]

31. The Committee welcomes the criminalization of forced marriage and taking note of target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals, urges the State party to:


(b) Enact legislation explicitly prohibiting coerced sterilisation or unnecessary medical or surgical treatment, guaranteeing bodily integrity and autonomy to intersex children as well as adequate support and counselling to families 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
46 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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