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The United Nations recently convened its first meeting to address the issue of human rights violations against people with ambiguous genitalia, also known as intersex.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights meeting, held in Geneva, builds off a 2013 report by the U.N.’s Special Rapporteur on Torture calling on the world’s nations to outlaw “genital normalizing” surgeries on intersex individuals.
The meeting also discussed human rights violations such as infanticide and widespread discrimination that occurs against intersex people around the world. But the issue of how to end the practice of intersex surgeries was front and center.
“Too many people assume, without really thinking about it, that everyone can be fitted into two distinct and mutually exclusive categories: male or female,” said Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the U.N.’s high commissioner for human rights, in his opening remarks.
“Such violations are rarely discussed and even more rarely investigated or prosecuted,” Hussein said. “The result is impunity for the perpetrators, lack of remedy for victims, and a perpetuating cycle of ignorance and abuse.”
Intersex surgeries have been the subject of fierce debate for several decades. Many activists argue that they are medically unnecessary, based on social fears about ambiguous genitalia, and can cause physical or psychological harm — all without the patient’s consent. For this reason, many activists refer to the surgeries as “intersex genital mutilation,” drawing a comparison to the cultural practice of female genital mutilation that has been outlawed in many countries.
Read full, original post: Intersex Surgeries Are A Human Rights Violation, Says U.N. Group