Health Desk- 2nd Sep, 2020: Tens of thousands of girls across Asia are being forced into marriage by desperate families plunged into poverty because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Child marriage has long been common in traditional communities from the Indonesian archipelago to India, Pakistan and Vietnam, but numbers had been decreasing as charities made inroads by encouraging access to education and women’s health services.
These improvements are being eroded as the impact of the virus causes mass job losses leaving parents struggling to feed their families, experts say.
“All of the gains we’ve made in the past decade are really going to suffer,” explains Shipra Jha, head of Asia engagement, at NGO Girls Not Brides.
Poverty, lack of education, and insecurity, drive child marriage even in stable times, so periods of crises exacerbate the problem, the charity says.
Worldwide, an estimated 12 million girls are wed every year before the age of 18, according to the U.N.