The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned this Monday that around ten million girls are at risk of having to marry this decade due to some of the restrictions imposed to contain COVID-19, such as school closings or lack of funding.
In its most recent report, “COVID-19: A Threat to Progress Against Child Marriage,” UNICEF warns that these advances are “seriously threatened” despite around 25 million forced marriages avoided over the past decade.
This explains that school closings, economic constraints, disruption of basic public services, pregnancy deaths and parent deaths due to the pandemic are factors that put girls in a position of vulnerability.
“COVID-19 has worsened an already difficult situation for millions of girls. The closure of schools, the lack of friends and support networks and the rise in poverty have rekindled a fire that the world was already trying to put out,” he said. complained UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“International Women’s Day is the perfect time to remember the risk these girls are taking if we don’t act now, losing their education, their health and their future,” he noted.
Some of the measures taken to halt the progression of the pandemic can be fatal to these girls as many of them drop out of school due to permanent school closings. Restrictions on freedom of movement make it difficult for them to access health care, social services and other support networks that fight against child marriage and pregnancy or gender-based violence.
The text also emphasizes that it cannot be ruled out that the loss of employment of the parents as a result of the economic crisis due to the pandemic will force them to marry their daughters in order to reduce the financial burden on the family.
“By reopening schools, introducing effective laws and policies, ensuring access to health and social services, and introducing comprehensive social protection measures for families, we can greatly reduce the risk of girls being deprived of their childhood,” Fore suggested .
However, UNICEF has recalled that prior to the pandemic, around 100 million girls were at risk of marriage over the next decade, although this practice has “decreased significantly” in recent years.
UNICEF estimates that 650 million girls and women living today have been forced into marriage, almost half of them in countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria.
Child marriage has immediate and lasting consequences for girls, who suffer as they are more likely to be victims of domestic violence, have fewer opportunities to continue studying, and increase the risk of premature pregnancies, leading to complications and even child death. Mother.
“A year after the pandemic, we need to act immediately if we are to mitigate the impact on girls and their families,” said Fore.