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Intersex Genital Mutilation – A Western Version of FGM

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Children around the world are subjected to genital mutilation, which constitutes a serious breach of the rights of the child. When procedures are carried out on girl children in countries such as Africa, the Middle East and the Philippines, the practice is called Female Genital Mutilation or FGM. Although the term FGM involves a vast range of rituals from extremely invasive to quite minor, it is universally decried as an abhorrent social practice for which there should be zero tolerance. Yet intersex children in the West are subjected to equivalent treatment, and their plight has been ignored or endorsed. In the last few years, the practice has begun to be seen as a form of cruel and unusual treatment, possibly constituting torture. Now referred to as Intersex Genital Mutilation or IGM, it is argued that this is a cultural practice equivalent to FGM and that advocates of children’s rights should work to prevent the abuse of intersex children.

Affiliations: 1: Independent Human Rights Scholar & Disability Advocate; Former Director Australian Human Rights Centre, University of NSW, Australia,


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