COVID Will Lead to More Child Marriage—What Can Be Done?
Joud Monla-Hassan; Mona Yacoubian
The Syria conflict shows how crisis can exacerbate the drivers of child marriage.
The impact of the COVID pandemic continues to be felt around the world, with economies shuttered and political systems increasingly strained. Another of the downwind effects of the pandemic—one that has not been leading the headlines—is that it is expected to lead to a sharp increase in early child marriage. In many countries, when crisis hits, early child marriage increases exponentially. Nearly 10 years into its civil war, in Syria and host countries with Syrian refugees, the rate of early child marriage is now four times what it was before the conflict began. As governments and NGOs continue to respond to COVID and its economic impacts, it is critical that they implement measures to mitigate the drivers of early child marriage. This is all the more vital for countries in or emerging from conflict because a lost generation of girls will ultimately lead to stunted regrowth post-conflict due to this disenfranchised portion of the population’s lack of involvement in reconstruction efforts.
Women carry a mattress and blankets through a Syrian refugee camp in Yayladagi, Turkey on June 10, 2011. (The New York Times).