By Collins Orono
A report by UNFPA, Avenir Health, Johns Hopkins University (USA) and Victoria University (Australia) has predicted that at least 13 Million girls will be pushed into child marriage over the next ten years as a result of prolonged Coronavirus Pandemic.
The report that was released during early stages of Covid19 further revealed that if the pandemic causes a two-year delay in female genital mutilation-prevention programmes, 2 million female genital mutilation cases would occur over the next decade that would otherwise have been prevented. It further cites that the early child marriages and FGM will be pushed by delay in implementation of programmmes designed to end child marriage and FGM as well as increase in the pandemic-related economic disruptions which is increasing the vulnerability of girls to harmful coping mechanisms.
The report relied more on previous experiences from catastrophes such as Ebola outbreak in West Africa.
“Our experiences from previous catastrophes such as the Ebola outbreak show that most of these marriages will happen in the first two years of crisis, putting 4 million girls at immediate risk”. says the report.
In case the pandemic causes a one-year average delay in interventions to end child marriage, considered a conservative estimate, some 7.4 million more child marriages are projected to occur over the next decade that otherwise could have been averted. In addition, the pandemic-caused economic downturn is projected to result in an estimated 5.6 million additional child marriages taking place between 2020 and 2030 bringing the total projected estimate of the effects of covid19 to 13 million additional child marriages.
Recently, a report published by the Joining Forces Alliance highlights the urgent need to focus on ending violence against children in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the brief – the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on violence against children – the six aid agencies, draw from their extensive frontline experience and call on governments, donors and fellow aid agencies to ensure children are protected from the impacts of COVID-19.
The Alliance highlighted that before the coronavirus pandemic, more than half of all children worldwide lived in daily exposure to different forms of violence as research found that violence against children already costs the world’s economies US$7 trillion annually and the coalition warns that failing to prevent further increase in violence exacerbated by the COVID-19 outbreak will likely increase the costs for communities and countries in the years to come.
A recent World Vision report has estimated that as a result of three months of global lockdowns, up to 85 million more children may be at risk of physical, sexual and emotional violence than before the outbreak.
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