(Image source from: financialexpress.com)
Child marriage has been a global problem, India being one of the leading countries in that prospect. With the looming threat of the coronavirus pandemic, over four million girls are at a risk of child marriage in the coming two years globally.
The report was presented by a global charity on Friday which warned that this crisis could undo all the years of efforts that have gone into eradicating it.
World Vision, that conducted the report further suggested that the main reason behind the heightened risks of the same is because of the loss of income due to the pandemic. The deepening poverty could be a reason that could drive the families to marry off their daughters to other families.
“When you have any crisis like a conflict, disaster or pandemic rates of child marriage go up,” said Erica Hall, the charity’s child marriage expert.
Hall further said that if people don’t think proactively at the moment and wait for the disease to pass, it will likely become too late to act and will not be something irreversible.
The campaigners behind the charity further reported that since the schools are closed, the organisations that are working to exacerbate child marriage are facing a hard time to operate during the lockdowns, making it more difficult for the individuals to work around it.
The pandemic is also affecting the ease of the girls to access the regular reproductive health services that could further cause a rise in the rate of teenage pregnancy in the world. This is often one of the most common reasons for pressure created on girls to get married.
According to the estimates, around 12 million girls globally are married before the age of 18 every year. This means that nearly one underage girl is married every three seconds.
An U.N report that was published last month reported that the pandemic could very well lead to an extra 13 million child marriages of girls in the next decade.
Girls Not Brides, which is a global organisation compromising of several organisations helping stop girl child marriages across the world expressed their worry because of the uncertainty that the pandemic brings along.
“People on the ground are saying this is looking bad. It’s likely we are going to see large numbers of child marriages,” said Faith Mwangi-Powell, who is the chief executive of Girls Not Brides.
The closure of the schools is one of the biggest concerns at the moment. While the schools help protect the girls from such ill fate, them shutting down heighten the risks of the marriage by a lot.
Faith further professed her concerns saying that there are chances many of the girls might not go back to school post Covid-19, which is an extremely scary thought at the moment. It is extremely important that every girl child goes to school.
World Vision’s Hall further reported a rise in the case of girl child marriages in South Sudan, Afghanistan and India.
Volunteers from the organisations also fear that people might use the example of the lockdown to conceal child marriages but the extreme will come with the families face a very bad economic instability post Covid.
Parents are likely to marry off their girls to reduce the number of members in the family to feed, helping them financially. At this point, even if the marriage is not done with a malicious intent, it is likely going to happen as a survival mechanism.
By Somapika Dutta