Against my will: defying the practices that harm women and girls and undermine equality


Child Marriage and…

Every day, tens of thousands of girls have their health, rights and futures stolen. Some are subjected to female genital mutilation. Some are forced into “marriages” as children, and still others are neglected or starved, simply because they are female. In many instances, parents who subject their daughters to harmful practices may do so with good intentions. They wrongly accept that female genital mutilation must factor into acceptance by peers in communities where this practice is widespread. They mistakenly believe that marrying off a child will secure her future. Some are unaware of the physical and psychological health risks. Good intentions, however, mean little to the girl who must abandon school and her friends to be forcibly wed, or to the girl who faces a lifetime of health problems because of mutilation from a harmful rite of passage.

In 1994, at the International Conference on Population and Development, ICPD, world governments called for universal sexual and reproductive health and decisively demanded an end to harmful practices. One year later,at the Fourth World Conference on Women, governments again declared that harmful practices must stop. Progress in slowing the rate of some adverse practices has been achieved, yet because of population growth, the number of girls subjected to harm is actually growing. Clearly, pledges and resolutions have not been sufficient to end harmful practices once and for all. What we need now are real change and real results. Last year, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, representatives from governments, grassroots organizations, development agencies and the private sector moved beyond pledges and resolutions and committed to ending the unmet need for contraceptives, ending preventable maternal death, and ending gender-based violence and harmful

To read UNFPA’s full report, please click here

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