Lagos – Ten million additional child marriages may occur worldwide, before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice due to COVID-19, according to a new analysis released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Monday.
The analysis titled, ‘COVID-19: A threat to progress against child marriage,” released to mark International Women’s Day alerted that the gains achieved in the past 10 years are now under threat.
The statement partly reads, ” With 25 million child marriages averted in the last decade, UNICEF issues warning on International Women’s Day that these gains are now under serious threat
It warned that school closures, economic stress, service disruptions, pregnancy, and parental deaths due to the pandemic are putting the most vulnerable girls at increased risk of child marriage.
It further said, “Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, 100 million girls were at risk of child marriage in the next decade, despite significant reductions in several countries in recent years.
“In the last ten years, the proportion of young women globally who were married as children had decreased by 15 per cent, from nearly 1 in 4 to 1 in 5, the equivalent of some 25 million marriages averted, a gain that is now under threat.
“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,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.
“International Women’s Day is a key moment to remind ourselves of what these girls have to lose if we do not act urgently – their education, their health, and their futures.”
The statement noted that girls who marry in childhood face immediate and lifelong consequences.
“They are more likely to experience domestic violence and less likely to remain in school. Child marriage increases the risk of early and unplanned pregnancy, in turn increasing the risk of maternal complications and mortality.