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Violating children’s rights: Harmful practices based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition

A report from the International NGO Council on Violence against Children

Each year, thousands of children die worldwide and the childhoods and development of millions more are scarred by harmful practices perpetrated by parents, relatives, religious and communityleaders and other adults.

All violations of children’s rights can legitimately be described as harmful practices, but the common characteristic of the violations highlighted in this report is that they are based on tradition, culture, religion or superstition and are perpetrated and actively condoned by the child’s parents or significant adults within the child’s community. Indeed, they often still enjoy majority support within communities or whole states.

Many of the identified practices involve gross and unlawful discrimination against groups of children, including gender discrimination, and in particular discrimination against children with disabilities. Some are based on tradition and/or superstition, some on religious belief, others on false information or beliefs about child development and health. Many involve extreme physical violence and pain leading, in some cases intentionally, to death or serious injury. Others involve mental violence. All are an assault on the child’s human dignity and violate universally agreed international human rights standards.