COVID-19 and Child, Early and Forced Marriage: An Agenda for Action
Urgent steps are being taken all over the world to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The recent Ebola outbreak in Africa has shown that outbreaks affect men and women differently. In most cases, women are more prone to suffer due to the social and economic effects, as they are subject to the risk of domestic violence, sexual violence, early marriage, forced marriage and early pregnancy. According to UNICEF, in the period of 2014-2016, there was a spike increase in the rates of teenage pregnancy, sexual abuse and child labour. The reason behind this is the closure of schools and educational institutions to contain the spread of the virus. This resulted in a high dropout rate of girls, and ultimately lead to teenage pregnancy and child marriage. Tushar Kanti Baidya addresses this issue in detail in his blog titled ‘Post COVID-19: Will the Girls Return to School?’ from the perspective of Bangladesh.
The current situation calls for the closure of educational institutions to make sure children and adolescents are free from the risk of contracting coronavirus. But at the same time, the closure of educational institutions for a long period of time can put girls into the risk of early marriage, especially for those living in rural and remote areas. The situation of adolescent girls that took place in Africa can repeat itself in many regions of the world, including the poorer regions of Bangladesh.
This brief by Girls Not Brides provides an insight into the possible risks adolescents are facing all over the world due to the current crisis, and gives recommendations and resources to help respond to these risks.