Today, under the leadership of German children’s rights advocate Marlene Rupprecht, the Council of Europe (CoE) passed a recommendation number 2023 (by a vote of 78 in favor, 13 opposed, and 15 abstaining) endorsing a child’s right to physical integrity and a resolution number 1952 (by a similar vote of 77 for, 19 against, and 12 abstaining) discussing the right to physical integrity in more detail and specifically supporting genital autonomy for children by opposing several practices including male circumcision, female genital mutilation, and “early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual chldren.”

The CoE’s resolution 1952 includes the following statement in paragraph 2:

The Parliamentary Assembly is particularly worried about a category of violation of the physical integrity of children, which supporters of the procedures tend to present as beneficial to the children themselves despite clear evidence to the contrary. This includes, amongst others, female genital mutilation, the circumcision of young boys for religious reasons, early childhood medical interventions in the case of intersexual children and the submission to or coercion of children into piercings, tattoos or plastic surgery.

Paragraph 7.5.2 of the resolution states that the CoE “calls on member States to… clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices which are today widely carried out in certain religious communities, such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys…”

It’s been a truly remarkable week. Events are happening for which many of us have been working for a long time.

Steven Svoboda
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child