Invasive practices carried out for no therapeutic reason are usually performed on people at a very young age when they are unable to speak up for and defend themselves, or give - or refuse - consent. Examples include ear piercings, tattoos, female genital mutilation, non-medical male circumcision, ‘corrective’ surgery performed on intersex children, and forced sterilisation.
Despite the surgical nature of such practices - which are often irreversible - they are based on religion, social custom or parental preference - not on medical reasons. Such practices violate children’s physical integrity and dignity.
Consent to non-therapeutic interventions should be obtained only from a child in question.
Read more on page 11 of our discussion paper Age is Arbitrary: Discussion paper on setting minimum ages.
Access to justice
Children must be able to challenge violations of their physical integrity, and child protection laws usually ban practices that amount to violations of physical integrity. Children must have a range of avenues to challenge such violations of rights, including in the national legal system and at the regional and international level. Find relevant case law.
Campaigns and resources
CRIN policy page on children’s bodily integrity
The Helsinki Declaration on the right to genital autonomy
Attorneys for the Rights of the Child monitors US legal cases challenging circumcision
‘Against her will: Forced and coerced sterilisation of women worldwide,’ by Open Society Foundations
- National and regional offices of the OII Intersex Network