'Four million girls are at risk of child marriage due to COVID-19'

The World Vision states that there are four major reasons COVID-19 could heighten the risk of child marriages in the next two years.

Coronavirus could put an extra four million girls at risk of early enforced marriages, warns the World Economic Forum (WEF), International Children\\’s Charity, World Vision.

The World Vision states that there are four major reasons COVID-19 could heighten the risk of child marriages in the next two years:

  • The pandemic has caused deepening poverty due to the loss of livelihoods, which has severely burdened families and is likely to drive them to marry their daughters off early.
  • The closure of schools gives females less protection and not much to do, so parents may end up fixing their wedding.
  • The inability to access reproductive health care facilities leaves the girls increasingly vulnerable. Teenage pregnancy is forecasted to increase, which will, in turn, increase the pressure to marry.
  • The risk exacerbates because it is harder for organizations working to combat child marriages to operate during the lockdown.

WEF reports that Pakistan is a top contender among countries with the highest number of child marriages.

According to the United Nations, to date, 1,909,000 child marriages have taken place in the country. However, India tops the chart with 15,509,000 child marriages.

On the 15th of May, a global charity said that the crisis could undo decades of hard work been done to end the practice of child marriages. International Children\\’s Charity\\’s child marriage expert, Erica Hall, spoke to the Thomson Reuters Foundation:

When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster, or pandemic in a country, the rate of child marriages goes up. If we don\\’t start thinking about prevention now, it will be too late. We can\\’t wait for the health crisis to pass first.

Erica further said that people might use the lockdown to conceal child marriages. She fears that the more people struggle with economic fallout, the sooner the numbers are expected to spike. To access dowries or reduce the support needed at home, parents may marry off the girls.

Currently, 12 million girls get married early every year. Last month, the U.N. predicted that the pandemic could lead to an extra 13 million child marriages over the next decade worldwide.

World Vision\\’s Erica Hall said:

It is a survival mechanism. Parents aren\\’t doing it maliciously – they don\\’t see any other alternative.

An organization titled Girls Not Brides\\’ Chief Executive, Faith Mwangi-Powell, said:

People on the ground are saying that this is looking bad. It\\’s likely we are going to see large numbers of child marriages. I\\’ve heard this statement from India, Africa, and Latin America.

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