Council of Europe Strasbourg. Photo Ellen Wuibaux.

Council of Europe Strasbourg. Photo Ellen Wuibaux

PACE Resolution 1952 (2013)

Parliamentary Assembly Council of Europe

In a report to the Committee on Social Affairs, Public Health and Sustainable Development, PACE Senator Marlene Rupprecht says that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has often drawn attention to violence against children where it is clear that the perpetrator is acting in bad faith (sexual violence in different contexts, violence at school, domestic violence, etc.). But she also observes that the non-medically justified violations of children’s physical integrity – violations that can have a long-term impact on their lives – have never been considered. That is why she tabled this resolution.

7. The Assembly therefore calls on member States to:

7.1. examine the prevalence of different categories of non-medically justified operations and interventions impacting on the physical integrity of children in their respective countries, as well as the specific practices related to them, and to carefully consider them in light of the best interests of the child in order to define specific lines of action for each of them;

7.2. initiate focused awareness-raising measures for each of these categories of violation of the physical integrity of children, to be carried out in the specific contexts where information may best be conveyed to families, such as the medical sector (hospitals and individual practitioners), schools, religious communities or service providers;

7.3. provide specific training, including on the risks of and alternatives to certain procedures, as well as the medical reasons and minimum sanitary conditions that should be fulfilled when performing them, to various professionals involved, in particular medical and educational staff, but also, on a voluntary basis, religious representatives;

7.4. initiate a public debate, including intercultural and interreligious dialogue, aimed at reaching a large consensus on the rights of children to protection against violations of their physical integrity according to human rights standards;

7.5. take the following measures with regard to specific categories of violation of children’s physical integrity:

7.5.1. publicly condemn the most harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation, and pass legislation banning these, thus providing public authorities with the mechanisms to prevent and effectively fight these practices, including through the application of extraterritorial “legislative or other measures to establish jurisdiction” for cases where nationals are submitted to female genital mutilation abroad, as specified in Article 44 of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CETS No. 210);

7.5.2. clearly define the medical, sanitary and other conditions to be ensured for practices which are today widely carried out in certain religious communities, such as the non-medically justified circumcision of young boys;

7.5.3. undertake further research to increase knowledge about the specific situation of intersex people, ensure that no-one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment that is cosmetic rather than vital for health during infancy or childhood, guarantee bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination to persons concerned, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support;

7.6. promote interdisciplinary dialogue between representatives of various professions, including medical doctors and religious representatives, so as to overcome some of the prevailing traditional methods which do not take into consideration the best interest of the child and the latest medical techniques.

7.7. raise awareness about the need to ensure the participation of children in decisions concerning their physical integrity wherever appropriate and possible, and to adopt specific legal provisions to ensure that certain operations and practices will not be carried out before a child is old enough to be consulted.

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Author(s): Parliamentary Assembly

Origin – Assembly debate on 1 October 2013 (31st Sitting) (see Doc. 13297, report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, rapporteur: Ms Rupprecht). Text adopted by the Assembly on 1 October 2013 (31st Sitting).See also Recommendation 2023 (2013).