Harmful Practices

Harmful practices are persistent practices and behaviours that are grounded on discrimination on the basis of sex, gender, age and other grounds. This incorporates multiple and/or intersecting forms of discrimination that often involve violence and cause physical and/or psychological harm or suffering.

Examples of Harmful Practices

  • Honour Based Violence
  • Female Genital Mutilation (find more information about this on the FGM page of our website)
  • Sex-Selective Abortions
  • Forced Marriage
  • Dowry Violence
  • Menstruation Ostracism
  • Breast Flattening
  • Muti-Killings
  • Accusations of Witchcraft

What Causes Harmful Practices to Emerge?

The causes of harmful practices are multidimensional and include stereotyped sex- and gender-based roles, the presumed superiority or inferiority of either of the sexes, attempts to exert control over the bodies and sexuality of women and girls, social inequalities and the prevalence of male-dominated power structures.

What to Do If You Are Concerned

Harmful Practices are a form of abuse. If you suspect a child, or an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or at risk of experiencing any harmful practice this should be raised as a safeguarding concern.

  • Notify the police if you think there is immediate danger
  • Discuss your concerns with your safeguarding lead
  • Contact the Stronger Families Hub for a child, or
  • Contact Adult Social Care for an adult. 
  • Provide as much information as you can.

For expert information and guidance for professionals please visit the National FGM Centre website for information about safeguarding children and adults from all forms of harmful practices.