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State of World Population 2020

Every day, hundreds of thousands of girls around the world are harmed physically or psychologically, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities. And without urgent action, the situation is likely to worsen.

The practices reduce and limit their capacity to participate fully in society and to reach their full potential. The impact ripples throughout society and reinforces the very gender stereotypes and inequalities that gave rise to the harm in the first place.

These are the findings of UNFPA’s flagship 2020 State of World Population report. The report examines the origin and extent of harmful practices around the world, and what must be done to stop them.

It identifies 19 harmful practices – ranging from breast ironing to virginity testing – that are considered to be human rights violations. But it focuses on three practices in particular that are widespread and persistent, despite near-universal condemnation: female genital mutilation (FGM), child marriage and son preference.