The year 2020 closed with the highest increase in the rate of child marriage in a quarter of a century and the situation threatens to worsen, as witnessed by a report by the NGO World Vision that puts 3.3 million minors at risk of marrying prematurely because of contexts in which hunger marks social behavior.
A hungry child is 60 percent more likely to marry early, just as those who do not go to school have 3.4 more options. The COVID-19 pandemic has also added new variables, as it has worsened the socioeconomic conditions of environments that were already vulnerable.
The end of child marriage is included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set for 2030, but as World Vision International’s external advocacy and engagement leader Dana Buzducea has recognized, “progress remains slow.”
Eighty-two percent of married children surveyed by World Vision in the Asia-Pacific region were married during the pandemic. The health emergency, according to Buzducea, “has increased levels of poverty and hunger and has decreased access to education,” increasing risk.
“Once again, girls bear the brunt of the crisis, as many are denied education and forced to marry men who, in some cases, are twice their age,” lamented the person in charge of World Vision, in a statement calling for addressing structural causes.
In this sense, the director of World Vision Spain, Javier Ruiz, has asked that hunger and poverty be tackled and access to education be promoted. “Governments around the world, focused on tackling the economic impacts of COVID-19, must also prioritize protecting the world’s most vulnerable children, who are at risk of suffering. the aftermath of the pandemic, “he claimed.
Ruiz hopes that families do not have to make the “horrible” decision to choose “between which child they should support and be able to feed and which one should marry”, since “there are enough resources in the world to guarantee that everyone is fed and educated, without the girls and boys being forced to marry to survive. “