Parental Rights

Babies and children depend on adults around them for food, shelter, and affection, but they are defenceless. There is no reason why this dependency automatically gives those adults the right to cut the child’s body for no immediate medical reason, least of all their private parts.

Doctors sometimes say that the surgery is easier when the flesh of the genitals are small, but that is another way of saying that the child is defenceless and might choose differently if they had a voice. Medically the risk of serious mishap, death or untidy outcomes is less when the genitals are fully formed. AIGA does not oppose elective genital surgery for adults, and even for teenagers who hold strong views.

It is misleading to say “it is legal”. All surgery is an assault unless it is done with the patient’s consent, done for their medical benefit and done skilfully. The real question is whether parents have the authority to make such important decisions for their children where there is no immediate benefit.

Historical practice for centuries has condoned parents and doctors performing genital cutting on girls, boys and intersex children often to suppress the sexuality of the child or to make the their genitals appear “normal”. Normal to whom, and what are “normal” genitals? Are your genitals “normal”?

The existence of a universal Right to Genital Autonomy for all children and whether a parent’s consent is valid has never been argued and decided in an Australian or New Zealand Court of law. Australia’s leading case “Marion’s Case” suggests otherwise and that was way back in 1993. It has been decided in one case in Cologne (Koln) Germany on 7 May 2014 where the Court decided that a doctor who performed an necessary surgery on a boy (circumcision at the request of his parents) broke the law and breached his patient’s human rights. Under intense political pressure a majority in the German parliament (Bundestag) later that year passed a law to make what was thus declared to be illegal, legal. That law only applies to boys, so it does not protect equal rights for girls, intersex children, and their parents.