Because so many harmful practices are perpetrated against girl children, drafters should acknowledge harmful practices as a form of child abuse and create or amend child protection laws and services to include harmful practices.
The following elements should be established as the core elements in child protection laws and systems to protect against harmful practices.
In Uganda, for example, The Children Statute 1996 (Statute No.6 of 1996) [Section 8] explicitly protects children against harmful practices in general:
Section 8. It shall be unlawful to subject a child to social or customary practices that are harmful to the child’s health.
In addition, the European Parliament resolution of 24 March 2009 on combating female genital mutilation in the EU (2008/2071(INI), Paras. 28 and 29, call on Member States to create legislation that focuses on the protection of children from FGM:
The European Parliament:
Calls on the member states to . . . adopt legislative measures to allow judges or public prosecutors to take precautionary and preventive measures if they are aware of cases of women or girls at risk of being mutilated;
Calls on the Member States to implement a preventive strategy of social action aimed at protecting minors without stigmatizing immigrant communities, through public programmes and social services aimed at both preventing these practices (training, education and awareness-raising among the communities at risk) and assisting the victims who have been subjected to them (psychological and medical support including, where possible, free medical treatment to repair the damage); calls also on the Member States to consider, in accordance with child protection legislation, that the threat or risk of being subjected to FGM may justify intervention by the authorities [.]
14. No person shall subject a child to female circumcision, early marriage or other cultural rites, customs or traditional practices that are likely to negatively affect the child’s life, health, social welfare, dignity or physical or psychological development.
119. (1) For the purposes of this Act, a child is in need of care and protection -
(h) who, being a female, is subjected or is likely to be subjected to female circumcision or early marriage or to customs and practices prejudicial to the child’s life, education and health; …
Protection of children at risk of genital mutilation
26B. (1) If the Court is satisfied that there are reasonable grounds to suspect that a child may be at risk of female genital mutilation, the Court may make orders for the protection of the child.
Examples — The Court might for example make an order—
(a) preventing a person from taking the child from the State; or
(b) requiring that the child’s passport be held by the Court for a period specified in the order or until further order; or
(c) providing for the periodic examination of the child to ensure that the child is not subjected to female genital mutilation.
(2) An application for an order under this section may be made by a member of the police force or by the Chief Executive Officer.
(3) The Court may make an order on an application under this section without giving a person who is to be bound by the Court’s order notice of the proceedings or an opportunity to be heard in the proceedings.
(4) However, in that case the Court must allow the person against whom the order is made a reasonable opportunity to appear before the Court to show why the order should be varied or revoked.
(5) In proceedings under this section the Court must assume that it is in the child’s best interest to resist pressure of racial, ethnic, religious, cultural or family origin that might lead to genital mutilation of the child.
UNICEF/Asociación por los Derechos Civiles, Guia de buenos practices para el abordaje judicial de niños, niñas, adolescents victimas o testigos de violencia, abuso sexual y otros delitos (2010). This guide is for judicial personnel and other professionals working with child and adolescent victims and witnesses through the justice processes. The three-part guide sets forth guiding principles and international standards for working with child and adolescent victims and witnesses; guidance for interviewing children and adolescents; and specific steps for each phase of the investigation process. Available in Spanish.