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Direitos Humanos / 22/03/2021

UN: Pandemic could lead more than 10 million girls to marry early

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UN: Pandemic could lead more than 10 million girls to marry early


Brazil is one of the five countries with the highest rate of early marriages in the world, says a UNICEF report.

Another 10 million girls are at risk of entering an early marriage due to the pandemic. The risk is that it will regress after having prevented 25 million child marriages in the world in the last decade, pointed out the UNICEF (UN Children's Fund).

A new study highlights that 650 million girls and women have already been victims of this practice. Brazil is among the five countries almost half of early marriages occurred. Next comes Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria.

Mozambique is the other Portuguese-speaking nation cited in the study. The country promotes actions in favor of children's learning, even with schools closed, and a safe return in the reopening.

For the agency, such measures must come with the hiring of teachers and distribution of materials. The study highlights that measures such as school closures, economic limitations and the death of parents by Covid-19 left girls more exposed to the risk of marrying early.

Before the pandemic, 100 million girls were already at risk of getting married early in the next decade. In the past 10 years, the proportion of girls married before the age of 18 has fallen by 15%, an increase of one in five compared to the previous period.

For the executive director of Unicef, Henrietta Fore, the pandemic has worsened a situation that was already difficult for millions of girls. The closure of schools and the lack of support networks are factors that, associated with poverty, have aggravated a problem for years.


The head of Unicef ​​stresses that it is not only possible but a duty to end child marriage. With practice, girls are more exposed to domestic violence and are less likely to remain in school. The risk of early pregnancy is also greater, leading to maternal mortality.

Among the consequences are separation their families, friends and impediment to active participation in their communities. This situation has serious consequences for the mental health and well-being of the group.

With restrictions on circulation and physical distance, it was difficult to access health care that could protect against early marriage, unwanted pregnancy and gender-based violence.

Unicef ​​stresses that closing schools also increases the likelihood of dropping out of school. Unemployment and increased economic insecurity can lead families to give their daughters in marriage to ease the financial burden.

The agency draws attention to the urgency of avoiding regression in order to reverse the effects of the pandemic and end the practice by 2030, as provided by the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals).

For the head of Unicef, with the reopening of schools, effective laws and policies will be necessary to guarantee access to health and social services, including sexual and reproductive health.

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