Summary: The International NGO Council on Violence against Children needs your help in identifying harmful traditional practices affecting children and also good legal frameworks and other measures to challenge and eliminate them.

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Call for information on harmful traditional practices affecting children’s rights


Our aim is to promote a rights-based and comprehensive discussion of the definition of HTPs and how to eliminate them effectively. We hope you will respond by sending us, or linking us to:

  • papers, reports and discussions on HTPs;

  • as full a list as possible of what you consider to be harmful traditional practices in your state/region and any comments on the definition of “harmful traditional practices”;

  • positive legal frameworks and other measures adopted to challenge and work towards the elimination of HTPs, together with any assessments of their effectiveness.


Please send materials, references and comments – whenever possible in English - to [email protected], by April 15 2012 at the latest. Please inform us clearly if any of the material you send, or the source of it, is confidential.


The International NGO Council (see www.crin.org/violence/NGOs/) is preparing a major report on prohibition and elimination of harmful traditional practices (HTPs), for presentation in New York during October’s UN General Assembly debates on children’s rights and violence against children. We will keep you informed of the work and ensure you receive an electronic copy of the final report. We will also contribute to an expert consultation on HTPs being organised in summer 2012 by the office of the Special Representative to the UNSG on Violence against Children (Marta Santos Pais) and – hopefully – to a General Comment being prepared jointly by the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination against Women.


The following is a non-exhaustive, illustrative list of harmful traditional practices which have been identified in various reports and debates:

  • Female genital mutilation/cutting;

  • Virginity-testing;

  • Male circumcision (some commentators have challenged it only when carried out by non-medical personnel and without appropriate hygiene and pain relief; others challenge it, when carried out on young children, as a gross invasion of physical integrity without consent);

  • Binding, breast ironing, scarring, burning, branding, coin-rubbing, tattooing, piercing;

  • A wide range of initiation ceremonies, some community/religious based, some linked to schools or other institutions, the priesthood, monasteries etc. These generally involve some forms of physical assault, direct or indirect, as well as degradation. Some involve sexual assault/exploitation;

  • Violent and/or humiliating forms of punishment/treatment: corporal punishment, isolation etc.;

  • Early and forced marriage;

  • HIV/AIDS “cleansing”;

  • So-called “honour” crimes; acid attacks, crimes committed in relation to bride-price and dowry;

  • Denouncing of children as witches or possessed by evil spirits;

  • Deliberate discriminatory treatment of children, often but not always involving various degrees of violence including extreme; and/or treatment or neglect prejudicial to health – including for example preferential feeding and/or care of male children; lack of care for children with disabilities;

  • Forms of treatment including extreme restriction of liberty for certain groups of disabled children – autism; children with albinism;

  • Bogus” forms of treatment/medication/diets not based on medical evidence; discrimination against children born on certain days; food taboos…

pdf: http://www.crin.org/violence/NGOs/index.asp

Please note that these reports are hosted by CRIN as a resource for Child Rights campaigners, researchers and other interested parties. Unless otherwise stated, they are not the work of CRIN and their inclusion in our database does not necessarily signify endorsement or agreement with their content by CRIN.