COVID-19 has triggered a “shadow pandemic” of sexual abuse, violence and exploitation against girls, a shocking new report reveals on International Day of the Girl Child, October 11.
More than ever, girls face multiple threats to their safety, including sexual predators online, sex trafficking, and forced child marriage, says the report Young Victims Remain Hidden in the Pandemic’s Shadow (http://www.gfa.org/press/girls) by mission organization GFA World (www.gfa.org). International Day of the Girl Child is an annual awareness event.
In more than 130 countries — including the U.S. — it’s legal for girls to marry under the age of 18. In North Carolina and Alaska, a girl can marry at 14 if she’s pregnant. In North Carolina, a 57-year-old man applied to marry a 17-year-old girl, the report says.
Worldwide, COVID-19 is accelerating a “global crisis for girls,” with surging joblessness and poverty putting pressure on struggling parents to marry off their daughters in their mid-teens or younger, the report says.
Millions of Girls ‘Exposed to Exploitation’
Globally, national lockdowns have disrupted schooling for millions of girls, and left them exposed to exploitation and greater risk of getting pregnant.
Save the Children predicts a “dramatic surge in child marriage and adolescent pregnancy.” The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that complications in pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in girls and young women ages 15-19.
Governments around the world must do more, GFA World says, to protect girls from forced marriage so they can finish school and choose their own path in life when they become adults.
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SOURCE: Assist News Service, by Gospel For Asia