Save the Children charity has warned that the Corona epidemic may lead to a sharp rise in the rate of child marriage worldwide, after the world witnessed the decline of the phenomenon over a quarter of a century.
The organization said that the epidemic put 25 million child girls at risk of early marriage by 2025.
Girls in parts of South Asia, Africa and Latin America are at greater risk.
The UK-based organization calls on world leaders to commit to funding and supporting efforts to address child marriage and gender inequality.
“This phenomenon of early marriage violates girls’ rights and places them at a greater risk of depression, lifelong violence, disability and even death,” said Karen Flanagan, the organization’s child protection advisor.
She added that 78.6 million child marriages have been prevented in the past 25 years, but that progress has slowed until it has stopped completely.
The “Girls Not Brides” group, which campaigns to end child marriage, told the BBC that it was observing a similar trend driven by the shrinking global economy as a result of the outbreak of the Corona virus.
The organization’s Executive Director Faith Mwangi-Powell said education provides a protective net for girls.
She added that there is a need for financial support, oversight and social work in order to ensure girls’ enrollment in school education.
How serious is the problem?
12 million girls annually fall victim to early marriage, according to Save the Children, but the number is expected to rise dramatically in the next five years with the exacerbation of the economic effects of the spread of the Corona virus, in 2020 alone, half a million girls face the risk of early marriage, and another million children are expected .
And if measures are not taken to curb the phenomenon, the number of early marriage victims could reach 61 million by 2025, according to the organization.
“The epidemic is pushing an increasing number of families into poverty and forcing more girls to join the labor market and abandon school, with less chance for young people to return to it at a later time,” said organization executive director Bill Chambers.
He believes that the likelihood of girls being exposed to violence and sexual exploitation increases, and with the scarcity of food and the absence of economic security, many parents feel that there is no choice but to force young girls to marry older men.
And the United Nations said in April that the next decade will see 13 million additional girls marry due to the epidemic.
Girls surrender their bodies to older men
Save the Children spoke to Aster, who lives in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo while preparing its report.
The epidemic has led to schools closing their doors.
Aster enjoys helping her mother take care of the chickens for the time being, but the impact of the crisis on the family is beginning to clear, and the girls in particular are starting to feel it.
“A lot of people were selling their crops in the market, but this stopped due to the epidemic,” Aster says.
“will not aYou will obey the sacrifice With education“
The organization also spoke to Abina, a 16-year-old “Save the Children” consultant in Ethiopia.
Our father worked with local organizations to combat the marriage of young girls to the elderly. Nevertheless, our father’s parents want her to marry at the age of sixteen “an educated and well-to-do man.”
Our father convinced her parents to allow her to continue her education.
“My answer was rejection. I cannot sacrifice my education. Asking me to marry me at this age is a violation of my childhood as long as I do not reach the age of marriage: 18 years.”
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