Tens of thousands of girls in various nations of Asia are forced, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to marry at a very young reports Fides News Agency.

The girls come from families who live in poverty, aggravated by the coronavirus. It is feared that years of progress made to combat the phenomenon of “child brides” will be canceled out because of viruses and poverty: this is the alarm raised by the NGO “Girls Not Brides”, which brings together a network of over 1,460 organizations scattered throughout the world, even in the Catholic world. “All the gains obtained in the last decade will suffer”, says Shipra Jha, at the head of the NGO “Girls Not Brides”, committed at an international level to fighting the plague of child brides. “Early marriage is firmly rooted in gender inequality and patriarchal structures. What has now happened is that Covid aggravates the situation”, notes the NGO in a note sent to Agenzia Fides. The alarm raised by “Girls Not Brides” reminds us that poverty, lack of education, and insecurity lead to early marriages even in stable times and that periods of crisis aggravate the problem. According to the United Nations, the phenomenon affects 12 million girls under the age of 18 every year.

Early marriage is a widespread practice in some traditional communities from Indonesia to India, Pakistan and Vietnam, but the numbers of the phenomenon – warns the NGO – had gradually decreased in recent years, thanks to the commitment of organizations and associations that encourage women’s access to education and health services. However, these improvements are being eroded by the impact of the pandemic which, in many Asian states, causes job losses and leaves families in serious trouble.

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