Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

Child Brides Numbers Highest in South Asia: UN

The UN research concluded that families during the pandemic had no choice but to wed their girls off young to cut expenditures at home.

New Delhi, 20 April 2023 (GNP): According to a recent report published by UNICEF on Wednesday, child brides numbers are highest in South Asia across the World because rising economic hardships and school closures brought on by the Covid outbreak compelled families to wed off their young daughters.

UNICEF claimed that there were 290 million child brides in the Region, making up 45% of the total worldwide, and urged for greater attempts to ensure an end to this practice.

Noala Skinner, UNICEF’s regional director for South Asia, said in a statement: “The fact that South Asia has the highest child marriage burden in the world is nothing short of tragic”.

“Child marriage locks girls out of learning, puts their health and wellbeing at risk, and compromises their future. Every girl who gets married as a child is one girl too many”, he added.

The recent research on child brides by UNICEF included interviews and discussions with parents throughout different areas in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. They found that parents believed marriage was the best possible choice for daughters as they lacked the resources to continue their education.

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In Nepal, females must be 20 years old to be married, while this legal age is 18 in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan. Except for Sindh province, where it is 18, the minimum age in Pakistan is 16.

Possible solutions, according to the agency, have been proposed which include setting up social protection measures to combat poverty, defending every child’s right to quality education, providing a strong legal system, and stepping up measures to address societal norms.

Björn Andersson, Asia-Pacific Regional Director for United Nations Population Fund, said, “We must do more and strengthen partnerships to empower girls through education, including comprehensive sexuality education, and equipping them with skills while supporting communities to come together to end this deeply rooted practice”.