Dr Kate Goldie Townsend

Discipline: Politics

Project Summary

Doctoral thesis

I defend the idea that all children have a right to genital integrity, whatever their cultural background, sex trait category, gender identity, or age. I ground this in the idea that children are unable to consent to genital cutting procedures until they have reached a certain level of maturity, that is, until they are legally considered to be autonomous. I examine moral and legal inconsistency in the real-world treatment of child genital cutting practices and argue that this inconsistency is incompatible with a commitment to social equality.

Peer-reviewed articles:

The Child's Right to Genital IntegrityPhilosophy and Social Criticism 46, no. 7 (2020). An earlier version of this article was shortlisted for the Res Publica postgraduate essay prize 2018. 

Recent/upcoming conference papers:

'Breastfeeding, Bodily autonomy; and UNICEF's "call to action".' Contentious Science, Tricky Politics: Experts and Scientists in Controversial Policy Debates, Bordeaux October 2021

'Culture and child genital cutting', for 'My culture made me do it': Freedom and Choice in Current Multicultural Democracies, MANCEPT Workshops, September 2021.

'Children's right to bodily integrity and the case against child genital cutting'. The Politics and Ethics of Autonomy symposium, Exeter, Summer 2021.

'Are children's rights bad for women (and everybody else)?' Association for Political Thought Conference, St Catherine's College, Oxford, January 2020.



Supervisory Team

Professor Robert Lamb

Dr Andrew Schaap

Dr Sarah Drews Lucas

Wider Research Interests

Children's Rights, Feminism, Social Criticism, Intergenerational Justice, Liberalism 

Existentialism, Phenomenology and post-structuralism, The History of Political Thought