Introduction to “Harmful Cultural Practices”

Chia Longman, Tamsin Bradley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingForeword/postscript


“Harmful cultural (sometimes ‘traditional’) practices” is a term increasingly employed in the last three decades by organisations working within a human rights framework to refer to certain discriminatory practices against women in the Global South, especially in Africa and Asia. In UN policy documents such practices are linked to “cultural traditions” of gender inequality, in violation of women’s rights to “health, life, dignity and personal integrity” (UN 1995). A wide range of practices has been labelled as harmful cultural practices (HCP), including female genital “mutilation;” child and forced marriages; unequal marital and inheritance rights; gender-based violence; nutritional taboos and traditional birth practices; honour crimes; polygamy, etc. However, despite the proliferation of HCPs as a categorical term in activist and policy circles, it is seldom applied in research reports and academic literature. This volume is among the first to addresses this gap and the questions it raises. Is HCP a viable and useful category of comparative analysis and theorisation of gender discriminatory practices across cultural contexts, and if so, what does it cover?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterrogating Harmful Cultural Practices
Subtitle of host publicationGender, Culture and Coercion
EditorsChia Longman, Tamsin Bradley
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781472428899
ISBN (Print)9781472428882, 9780367598457
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2015

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