Harmful traditional practices are forms of violence that have been committed in certain communities and societies for so long that they are considered – or are presented by perpetrators – as part of accepted cultural practice. Two of the most common forms of harmful practices are child, forced or early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).
In March 2022, we invited our child helpline members to submit data on the contacts they had received throughout 2021.
This included data from 12 of our member child helplines in the Eastern & Southern Africa region, where the most common reason for contacting the child helplines – occurring 100,991 times – was violence, a category which includes these instances of harmful traditional practices. As you will see from our latest factsheet, 7,669 (7.6%) of these contacts about violence were specifically relating to child marriage or FGM.
Our factsheet also looks at the correlation between the number of these contacts and the prevalence of both issues in those countries. We find that the likelihood of child helplines receiving contacts regarding child marriage is higher in countries where the issue is more prevalent; suggesting that child helplines are truly providing support on those very issues that are really impacting on children in the region.
Child helplines provide crucial support to children and young people who are victims of harmful practices. Every child and young person should have free and unrestricted access to child helpline services.