According to a new analysis released by the UNICEF statement, five countries, including India, account for about half of the total child brides in the world on the occasion of International Women's Day.
According to the analysis 'Covid19- A threat to progress against child marriage', 10 million additional child marriages may occur before the end of the decade, threatening years of progress in reducing the practice. Worldwide, an estimated 650 million girls and women alive today were married in childhood, with about half of those occurring in Bangladesh, Brazil, Ethiopia, India and Nigeria, according to the analysis.
To off-set the impacts of Covid-19 and end the practice by 2030 – the target set out in the Sustainable Development Goals – progress must be significantly accelerated, it said. “One year into the pandemic, immediate action is needed to mitigate the toll on girls and their families.
With 25 million child marriages averted in the last decade, UNICEF warned on International Women's Day that these gains are now under serious threat. Quoting its previous report, UNICEF said one in three of the world's child brides live in India. The UN body said the persistence of child marriage remains a potential challenge to India achieving Sustainable Development Goal 5 by 2030 even as its progress has been one of the strongest among countries in South Asia during the last decade. The analysis said "The decline has been led by urban areas, which only had 18 percent of women in the age group of 20-24 reporting (in 2015-16) – as compared to 32 percent in rural areas – having got married before the age of 18," it said.
“To end child marriage in India, we need to continue to focus on the poorest and most vulnerable girls and their families. It is critical that child marriage elimination efforts are integrated into the Covid-19 response and recovery plans, and a prevention approach is strengthened that also addresses the negative impact on health, education, and child protection," said Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative."