Non-consensual sex affirmative surgery on minor will violate child’s privacy: Kerala HC

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Kochi: The Kerala High Court has ruled that non-consensual sex affirmative surgery on a minor would violate the child’s privacy and dignity.

The order came in response to a plea filed by the parents of a seven-year-old with ambiguous genitalia seeking permission for a genital reconstructive surgery to raise their child as a female.

While the court acknowledged the parents’ concerns about the child’s health, it emphasised the importance of respecting an individual’s right to choose their own sex or identity.

The court, however, considering the parents’ concerns over the health of the child, said necessary interventions can be made based on the recommendation by a “duly constituted medical board”.

It directed the government to constitute a state-level multidisciplinary committee consisting of experts, which shall include a pediatrician/pediatric endocrinologist, pediatric surgeon and child psychiatrist/child psychologist.

The court also directed the government to issue an order regulating sex selective surgeries on infants and children within three months.

“Until such time, sex selective surgery shall be permitted only based on the opinion of the State Level Multidisciplinary Committee that the surgery is essential to save the life of the child/infant,” the court said.

The court observed that the report of chromosomal analysis was not sufficient for granting the permission as the possibility of a child with Karyotype-46XX developing male like tendencies in adulthood cannot be ruled out.

“…I find that, grant of permission for conducting genital reconstructive surgery would impinge the rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India and conduct of the surgery without consent would violate the child’s dignity and privacy.

“Granting such permission may also result in severe emotional and psychological issues if, on attaining adolescence, the child develops orientation towards the gender, other than the one to which the child was converted through surgical intervention,” the court said in its order.

Meanwhile, the court also said that in the instant case, the medical board shall examine the petitioners’ child within two months and decide whether the child is facing any life threatening situation by reason of the ambiguous genitalia.

“If so, permission can be granted for carrying out the surgery,” the court said.

It further said that the right of a human being to choose his/her sex or gender identity, which is one of the most basic aspects of self determination, dignity and freedom, has to be recognised.

(With PTI inputs)

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