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New push to educate Belgian parents of intersex children

© Belga

Each day, five children are born in Belgium with any of several variations in sex characteristics, according to Belgium’s Institute for Equality between Women and Men (IEWM) in a new awareness push.

In an effort to educate parents of intersex children, IEWM has produced a new brochure along with a video aimed at raising awareness among young people, the Institute announced in a statement on Friday.

The brochure was published ahead of the International Day of Solidarity with Intersex Children, celebrated on 8 November.

Roughly one child in every 60 or 1.7% of the Belgian population is intersex, according to the Institute, which stressed that intersex variations, i.e. people being born with bodies that do not correspond to the normative definition of a man or a woman, are a natural phenomenon.

The IEWM said such children are often subjected to useless operations due to a lack of knowledge on the part of some less specialised doctors, or because people want to make their bodies “normal.”

“Generally, these operations are done even if the child’s life is not threatened, and without their consent,” it noted. “Adults with intersex variations often say they would have preferred to make an informed choice themselves.”

The information brochure has been put together with the aim of presenting parents with information, testimonies by other parents and adults or young adults, as well as the contacts of civil society organisations and associations of persons facing similar experiences to theirs.

The IEWM has also produced a video meant for young people, in which it explains what an intersexual variation is.

It has encouraged the new government to work on new inter-federal action plans against discrimination and to include in it concrete measures aimed at protecting intersex persons.

The Brussels Times

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