Germany (CEDAW 09-03-2017)
The Committee considered the combined seventh and eighth periodic reports of Germany (CEDAW/C/DEU/7-8) at its 1482nd and 1483rd meetings (see CEDAW/C/SR.1482 and CEDAW/C/SR.1483), held on 21 February 2017. The Committee’s list of issues and questions is contained in CEDAW/C/DEU/Q/7-8 and the responses of Germany are contained in CEDAW/C/DEU/Q/7-8/Add.1.
D. Principal areas of concern and recommendations
- The Committee welcomes the adoption of legislative and other measures to combat harmful practices, including the forty-seventh Criminal Law Amendment Act (2013) prohibiting female genital mutilation and the establishment of an inter-ministerial working group on intersexuality/transsexuality. Nevertheless, the Committee is concerned about:
(a) Legislative provisions allowing marriage under the age of 18 years in exceptional cases;
(b) The significant number of girls living in the State party, often from migrant families, who have undergone or are at risk of being subjected to female genital mutilation and other harmful practices;
(c) The limited information and education projects on harmful practices available to ethnic minority and migrant women in particular, along with the inadequate training of health and social services professionals and the lack of adequately provisioned counselling services throughout the State party;
(d) The lack of clear legislative provisions prohibiting the performance of unnecessary medical procedures on infants and children of indeterminate sex until they reach an age at which they are able to provide their free, prior and informed consent;
(e) Inadequate support and the lack of effective remedies for intersex persons who have undergone medically unnecessary surgical procedures at a very early age, often with irreversible consequences, resulting in long-term physical and psychological suffering.
- In the light of joint general recommendation No. 31 of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women/general comment No. 18 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (2014) on harmful practices, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure safeguards to protect girls under the age of 18 years who have been allowed to marry;
(b) Systematically collect disaggregated data on the incidence of harmful practices in the State party and continue to strengthen preventive and protective measures to eliminate female genital mutilation;
(c) Develop awareness-raising campaigns; ensure that information is readily available to victims of female genital mutilation; ensure that health and social services professionals are sufficiently trained to identify potential victims; and make certain that perpetrators are brought to justice;
(d) Adopt clear legislative provisions explicitly prohibiting the performance of unnecessary surgical or other medical treatment on intersex children until they reach an age at which they can provide their free, prior and informed consent; provide the families of intersex children with adequate counselling and support; and ensure that the German Medical Association provides information to medical professionals on the legal prohibition of unnecessary surgical or other medical interventions for intersex children;
(e) Ensure the effective access to justice, including by amending the statute of limitations, of intersex persons who have undergone unnecessary surgical or other medical treatment without their free, prior and informed consent; and consider the proposal of the German Ethics Council to establish a State compensation fund.
- The Committee notes as positive the establishment of an inter-ministerial working group on intersexuality/transsexuality, and the possible revision of the Transgender Act. Nevertheless, it is concerned about:
(a) The burdensome conditions set for gender reassignment treatment for transgender women (namely, the requirement of two experts’ reports and the lengthy period of 12 to 18 months of treatment, often experienced as psychopathologization) required before gender reassignment can be granted, and the unreasonable barriers set up by health insurance companies regarding the coverage of the costs of such treatment;
(b) Incidents of discrimination against transgender women.
46. The Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Revise the Transgender Act to harmonize it with international standards of non-discrimination and to alleviate and simplify the conditions under which gender reassignment treatment can be obtained, and ensure that health insurance companies reimburse the costs for such interventions without unreasonable barriers;
(b) Strengthen efforts to eliminate discrimination against transgender persons, including through awareness-raising campaigns and appropriate training for police officers and the judiciary.