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Source: World Vision

Child marriages from March to December 2020 were up more than 100% on 2019 in the communities World Vision surveyed
The international aid agency warns that these alarming rates are set to rise, due to the ongoing impact of the COVID 19 outbreak
COVID-19 has generated the largest increase in child marriages in 25 years

A new report, ‘Breaking the Chain’, published today by World Vision reveals that child marriage more than doubled in several communities from March-December 2019 to the same period in 2020. This follows the aid agency’s predictions that deepening poverty in the aftermath of the COVID-19 outbreak will leave millions more girls at risk of child marriage.

World Vision staff responded to more than twice as many child marriage reports during the coronavirus outbreak than the year before. The aid agency suggests this surge in child marriage is likely due to loss of income during the pandemic, rising poverty and lack of access to education and support services.

Dana Buzducea from World Vision International said: “It is heart-breaking that 12 million girls are married each year. Every one of these is a tragedy with far-reaching effects – empty seats in classrooms, girls treated as a commodity, lost economic and human potential. We know that economic desperation within families, poverty and harmful attitudes are some of the factors that drive child marriage, particularly in the most fragile places in the world. The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns have increased the pressure on families, threatening girls’ rights to live a safe childhood and realise their potential.

World Vision is urging the international community to work together to raise the minimum age of marriage to 18 years old and to ensure child marriage prevention laws are enforced.

“Millions more girls could be married off because of this pandemic,” Dana Buzducea says, “And we are already seeing this in several communities. We can’t afford to wait; more futures will be ruined unless crucial changes are made to protect young girls.


The report, Breaking the Chain, compiles research and data from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Senegal and Uganda – where World Vision has been working to address the issue of child marriage. In each of these countries, case studies were developed using first-hand accounts, a desk review of available data and evidence of promising practices towards eliminating child marriage. 

Download the report here