Covid 19 is silently fueling child marriages

Harris Namutebi
Posted May 22, 2020 from Uganda
Children during an SRH open conversation meeting
Children during an SRH open conversation meeting (1/1)

COVID 19 is likely to contribute to an increase in cases of child marriages in peri and urban communities in Uganda. Increasing poverty due to loss of incomes resulting from shut down of businesses has made a challenging situation more complex. In Uganda, a number of women earn a living from road side food vending which is done from 5pm onwards. Unfortunately, since March 2020, travel restrictions and curfew instituted to prevent the spread of COVID 19 has left many women in peri urban settings with no incomes but to survive by chance.   Road side food vending businesses have been grossly affected since it’s harder to maintain social distance. Children especially adolescents are likely to make poor SRH decisions especially when parents fail to provide food and other basic needs.

Schools are instrumental in protecting girls from child marriages as  senior women and men teachers play a vital role in providing age appropriate sexual reproductive health information enabling children especially girls make informed SRH decisions.  COVID 19 has led to close down of schools.  In Uganda, schools are expected to open to candidates leaving more girls in communities. When schools remain closed, girls are at a high risk of being forced into child marriages. It’s at this point that parents need to revisit their roles and spear head discussions on sexual reproductive health that will enable girls make informed decisions about their sexuality.

This is a complex matrix since organizations and service providers are increasingly less in the communities because of the social distancing strategy.  It’s important that girls remain girls.  We call upon various actors to support initiatives aimed at preventing child marriages during these tough time.

 

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 11

Log in or register to post comments
Chidimma
May 22
May 22

Hello Dear Harris. Hope you and your family are doing fine. It's so unfortunate COVID 19 has affected girls and women. Let's continue to keep them informed on the possible ways out. thanks for sharing.
Stay safe
Regards.

Jill Langhus
May 23
May 23

Hello Rebecca,

How are you and your family doing? Welcome back! I hear you! Thanks for bringing awareness to these challenges and for providing an update in your area and country, dear. I hope the situation improves soon.

XX

Chi8629
May 23
May 23

Thank you for sharing.

Hello, Harriet,

How are you? It is disheartening to know that child marriages increase due to lack of option during this pandemic. These are challenging times. Thank you for raising your voice on this issue.

Please stay safe always!

Tamarack Verrall
May 24
May 24

Dear Harris,
It is heartbreaking to know that so suddenly all these girls are at high risk of being married off, or being vulnerable in other ways to saying safe from sexual advances. I can only imagine how hard it is for you, you have so many under your loving and protective wings. I so hope that parents and community organizers are able to form protections, and that soon it will be possible to send them back to school.
In sisterhood,
Tam
Tam

Beth Lacey
May 25
May 25

This is such a terrible practice and worse at this stressful time

Anita Shrestha
May 26
May 26

THank you for sharing

Kabahenda
Jun 03
Jun 03

Thanks Harris for sharing this important information and for raising our awareness.

I hope that your message gets to parents, teachers and other people in the community.

EmilyLin
Jun 05
Jun 05

Thank you for sharing! It is heartbreaking to hear how the pandemic has been depriving girls' rights to remain girls. I agree with you that child marriage is something that should be prevented. I'll see if there are initiatives that are actively supporting elimination of child marriages during this pandemic and call upon others' supports. Stay healthy and all the best to your community!

leila Kigha
Jun 11
Jun 11

Oh dear!
the consequences or effects of covid-19 are enormous!
Thank You for sharing

Ellie E.
Jun 15
Jun 15

Thanks for sharing and highlighting this issue!