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Report: Pandemic Could Force Girls Into Early Marriages

The pandemic could spark a surge in child marriages throughout the world.

As many as 2.5 million more girls are at risk of early marriage by 2025. The BBC detailed the findings from a report by the Save the Children charity on Thursday.

The British-based charity blamed the increasing poverty brought on by COVID-19 for forcing girls out of school and into work or marriage. The most vulnerable are girls in parts of Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, it said.

“These marriages violate girls’ rights and leave them at increased risk of depression, lifelong violence, disabilities and even death,” said Karen Flanagan, a child-protection adviser for Save the Children.

About 12 million girls are victims of early marriages every year, according to the report.

“The pandemic means more families are being pushed into poverty, forcing many girls to work to support their families and to drop out of school — with far less of a chance than boys of ever returning,” Bill Chambers, president and CEO of the charity, said.

“A growing risk of violence and sexual exploitation combined with growing food and economic insecurity also means many parents feel they have little alternative but to force their young daughters to marry older men.”

Meanwhile, a 2018 report in The Washington Post noted child marriages remain prevalent in the United States with hundreds of thousands of children estimated to have married between 2000 and 2010.

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