Radio Interview: COVID-19 Pandemic Causes Increased Early Marriages in Southeast Asia

September 19, 2020 shutterstock_716651863

by Radio France Internationale

Click below to listen to the radio interview (in French) with our Deputy Executive Director, Sai Racherla.


This is one of the many alarming consequences of the coronavirus pandemic in Southeast Asia, the number of early marriages appears to be worryingly increasing, according to social workers and NGOs dedicated to this scourge. Figures for 2020 are not yet available, but a clear trend is already noticeable.

For more than a decade, Sai Jyothirmai has been combating early marriage in Southeast Asia. But since the coronavirus arrived, the slow improvements she could see have stalled. “There has been progress in recent years, but the coronavirus has generated backpedaling, and in this emerging ‘new normal’ scenario, I really have the feeling that we are going to have to go back several steps and start over from there,” she explains.

This finding, the Asian-Pacific Women’s Resource and Research Centre (ARROW) explains in two ways: The coronavirus has upset public health priorities and services and information related to sexuality, contraception were neglected and were no longer considered urgent.”

In addition to this, at the family and household level, it has been observed that parents have great difficulty in feeding their children. They may have lost their wages, but despite all this they want to protect their children, sometimes also to protect them from dangers within the home itself, where they are very vulnerable to violence and sexual assault. And to solve all these problems, early marriage can then be seen as a solution.

And in addition to early marriage, the NGO network involved in women’s rights has also noted an increase in teenage pregnancies.

Read the original article in French here:

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