BSS–47 Coronavirus impact may increase child marriage: UNFPA





Coronavirus impact may increase child marriage: UNFPA

DHAKA, June 30, 2020 (BSS) – United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) today predicted that ‘harmful practices’ including child marriage may increase due to the adverse impact of coronavirus pandemic.

Therefore, the agency in its latest major report titled ‘The State of the World’s Population Report 2020’ said urgent and accelerated action are required to put an end to female genital mutilation, child marriage and other “harmful practices” carried out against women and girls.

This information came out today at the report launching programme where Secretary of Ministry of Women and Child Affairs Kazi Rowshan Akhter was present the chief guest while UNFPA Representative in Bangladesh Dr Asa Torkelsson was present, among others.

“At least 19 harmful practices are considered human rights violations, which focuses on the two of the most prevalent ones in Bangladesh: child marriage and bias against daughters in favour of sons,” mentioned the report.

Bangladesh has one of the highest prevalence of child marriage in the region. While much efforts have been made over the years to end child marriage, continued investments and action is urgently required, specially in the context of COVID-19, suggested the report.

Every year, millions of girls are subjected to practices that harm them physically and emotionally, with the full knowledge and consent of their families, friends and communities, it added.

Kazi Rowshan Akhter stressed on the importance for all relevant ministries and departments to make strong commitments to end harmful practices in Bangladesh, particularly with the increasing challenges of COVID-19.

“We must foster respect for women and girls by changing entrenched cultural attitudes and practices. This means disrupting root causes of inequality and respecting girls’ autonomy”, said Dr Asa Torkelsson, UNFPA Representative in Bangladesh.

“Harmful practices against girls cause profound and lasting trauma, robbing them of their right to reach their full potential”, she added.

“The pandemic both makes our job harder and more urgent as so many more girls are now at risk,” Asa said adding. “We will not stop until the rights, choices and bodies of all girls are fully their own.”

Project Director of Ministry of Women and Children Affairs Dr Abul Hossain, Professor of Population Sciences, University of Dhaka Prof Dr Mohammad Bellal Hossain and Founding Member of the youth-led community organization ‘Ekhoni’ Avita Islam were present, among others.