UNICEF’s latest report on child marriage listed closing of schools, economic stress, parental deaths, and pregnancies due to the coronavirus pandemic as the major stimuli of child marriage.
Child marriage is a social deterrent. It is the forcefully arranged marriage of children below 18. It could be either formal or informal wherein the children have to live with each other as if married.
This not only violates children’s rights but also places them at higher risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse. Child marriage is a necessary evil. It can be and needs to be curbed and the perpetrators deserve the harshest of punishments.
UNICEF Report On The Matter In Question
“5 countries, including India” as per the report released on 8 March, Monday, “account for half of the world’s girls who were married before the age of 18.” The report titled ‘Covid-19: A threat to progress against child marriage’ was released on Women’s Day.
It approximated that nearly 650 million girls and women alive today got married in their childhood and about half of them are in 5 countries, namely Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria.
Further, the report stated that “In the last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 percent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5, the equivalent of some 25 million marriages averted, a gain that is now under threat.”
Read More: Too Young To Wed: Child Marriage in India
According to the UN agency, the leading nation regarding child marriage was sub-Saharan Africa with a proportion of 35%, followed by South Asia which was at 30%. Trailing them are Latin America and the Caribbean at 24%.
Not far behind are the Middle East and North Africa with the proportion of 17% and Eastern Europe and Central Asia are the last ones among the top 5 with 12% child marriages.
COVID And Hike In Child Marriages
The major causes of such marriages have been the closing of schools, economic stress, parental deaths, and pregnancies due to the coronavirus pandemic, as per the UNICEF report.
UNICEF’s executive director Henrietta Fore stated, “COVID-19 has made an already difficult situation for millions of girls even worse. Shuttered schools, isolation from friends and support networks, and rising poverty have added fuel to a fire the world was already struggling to put out. But we can and we must extinguish child marriage.”
Further commenting upon the situation, the report stated, “Through the Sustainable Development Goals, the world committed to ending child marriage by 2030. This obligation extends to the 10 million girls whose futures are now in jeopardy along with the 100 million girls at risk of becoming child brides before the pandemic began.”
What Can Be Done
Various suggestions were made in the report to curb the evil of child marriage by Fore.
Countries were asked to be alert and take proper and just actions, implementation of certain necessary laws and practices was pressed, access to health as well as social services was made aware.
The report touched upon the significance of reopening schools and providing precautionary measures and protecting families regarding social issues.
Only after we give our best, will we see change. For the better. End child marriage now. Work towards a better world where our children are safe, protected, and loved.
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