Harmful cultural practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM), are discriminatory practices committed regularly over long periods of time that communities and societies begin to consider them acceptable.

Around the world, hundreds of millions of girls and boys have experienced some form of violence, exploitation or harmful practice, although girls are at much greater risk. Child marriage and FGM span continents and cultures, yet, in every society in which they are practiced, they reflect values that hold girls in low esteem.

FGM can lead to serious health complications – including prolonged bleeding, infection and infertility – or even death. Girls and women who have undergone FGM are at heightened risk of experiencing complications during childbirth.

In some societies, FGM goes hand in hand with child marriage. Girls married as children are more likely to drop out of school and become pregnant as teenagers when they face increased risks of dying during pregnancy or childbirth.