HRW applauds Africa commission resolution recognizing rights of intersex individuals News
Bojan Cvetanović, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
HRW applauds Africa commission resolution recognizing rights of intersex individuals

Human Rights Watch (HRW) Thursday applauded the passage of an African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) resolution supporting the rights of intersex individuals. The resolution calls for the promotion and protection of intersex peoples, those “born naturally with a chromosomal abnormality and reproductive or sexual anatomy that does not appear to fit the typical definitions of female or male.”

Regarding the passage of the resolution, HRW said:

Human rights commissions have important roles to play in denouncing medically unnecessary nonconsensual surgeries on intersex children and discrimination against adults with variations in their sex characteristics. ACHPR joins national institutions in India and Australia, and an increasing number of governments around the world, in foregrounding protective measures for people born with bodies that are a little different, but perfectly deserving of equal dignity and autonomy.

The resolution pulled from the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to protect intersex individuals in Africa. The resolution called for African states to “promote and protect the rights of intersex persons on the continent” and to “stop non-consensual normalization practices on intersex persons.”

The resolution also drew parallels between normalization procedures on intersex people and genital mutilation. Normalization procedures are used to alter intersex individual’s anatomy so as to bring them within the gender binary–resulting in either solely female or solely male bodies. The resolution warned that the practice has the potential to cause intersex individuals “lifelong physical and psychological suffering, permanent sterility, incontinence, and loss of sexual pleasure.”

Looking forward, the resolution called upon African states to institute comprehensive education programs so as to end human rights violation against intersex people–such as infanticide and abandonment–and discrimination.

Approximately 1.7 percent of people worldwide are born with intersex traits, in which their sexual characteristics at birth do not fit into traditional, binary notions of male or female bodies. As stated in the resolution, the ACHPR now recognizes that “intersexuality is an inherent handicap at birth and that it should not be considered a taboo in all African societies.”