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LGBT Voices from the UN / 2005

in ARGENTINA, 10/05/2005

Statistically, situations related to intersexuality have place in one over 2 500 births; the immense majority of those intersex children will suffer, since the very beginning of their lives, invasive and mutilating procedures

Item 13 – Rights of the Child

Mr Chairman,

I’m Mauro Cabral, from MADRE.

I’m here to speak about a secret but daily occurring horror; intersex infantil genital mutilation.

Every time an intersex child is born, a child whose sexual and reproductive anatomy varies from both male and female bodily standards, his o her body is forced into surgical and hormonal treatments aimed to modify the appearance of his or her genitals, without the child even having the opportunity of consenting or refusing them, and without any medical reason to justify them. Statistically, situations related to intersexuality have place in one over 2 500 births; the immense majority of those intersex children will suffer, since the very beginning of their lives, invasive and mutilating procedures.
Fear to difference, sexism and homophobia persistently justify the practice of clitoridectomies, vaginoplasties and other treatments, which produce, in many cases, an experience similar to castration and/or repeated violation.

Aimed to eliminat that “monstrosity” represented by genitally different bodies, these procedures create another kind of “monstrosity”, as that of a differentiated ethical standard, that prescribes and justifies inhuman means of so-called bodily “normalization”. Who is speaking before you and this Commission is one of those monsters, Mr. Chairman, and just like too many intersex people, I carry in the flesh and the experience the marks that genital mutilation leaves through a human life. Treated as “exceptions of nature”, genital mutilation turns us brutally into human rights exceptions.

The Universal Declaration on Human Rights, The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child demand an urgent and radical change in the way we deal with bodily diversity. For this change become real, decisional autonomy and bodily integrity must be recognized and fullfilled as rights of the child, as well as the right of intersex children to live in a world with room for them, a world that considers each human life as valuable and respectable, a world that daily celebrates the diversity of all what exists, including human bodies diversity.

Stopping intersex infant genital mutilation is an unavoidable ethical and political imperative. I invite you and this Commission to join our effort to erradicate it.

Mauro Cabral
Project Consultant on Trans and Intersex Issues
Program for Latin America and the Caribbean
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Comission
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