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ED: Don’t let Covid-19 stand in the way of the fight against child marriage

  • Published at 11:05 pm July 9th, 2020
child marriage
Photo: Reuters

Abusing a child is amongst the most heinous actions any person could commit

Back in April, the United Nations made a grim prediction -- that the pandemic could lead to an extra 13 million child marriages over the course of the next decade. It has become clear ever since the emergence of the novel coronavirus, and the various measures taken to contain its spread, that this is not merely a health problem, but a complex issue with tentacles. One such tentacle is now harming the most socially and economically vulnerable segment of our population -- children.

When it comes to the health risks posed by Covid-19, children are statistically the least at risk. However, already there has been a spike in child marriages, and the problem is particularly alarming in the context of Bangladesh.

Reports suggest that, due to communities becoming more closed off, and with a reduced amount of information reaching NGOs, more and more children are being married off in secrecy. This is a terrible blight on society, and one we must act to stop immediately.

Manusher Jonno Foundation uncovered information about 139 girls and 13 boys falling victim to child marriage, and this number almost certainly underrepresents the actual problem. Now, more than ever, we must step up this fight, because child marriage is never OK, and families that stealthily engage in this practice deserve the strongest condemnation for using the pandemic to commit further immoral actions.

For too long, this country has been failing to protect its children from abuse, and child marriage is nothing if not abuse, as a child is incapable of giving consent. If we wish to be seen as a developed nation, we have to do better -- much better.

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