World food crisis prompts rise in child marriages: Canadian aid agencies

·1 min read

OTTAWA — Canadian aid agencies are warning that the world food crisis, made worse by the war in Ukraine, is leading to a rise in underage girls being forced into marriage.

Plan International Canada says it has seen a worrying increase in the number of teenage girls in the developing world being forced into marriage because their families cannot afford to feed them.

The agency says 12 million girls under the age of 18 become child brides each year, forcing them to abandon school while putting their health at risk through early pregnancies.

It warns a 15 per cent decrease in child marriages over the past decade is now in reverse, with the problem acute in countries such as South Sudan, Niger, Mali, Chad and Bangladesh, a major importer of Ukrainian wheat.

World Vision says in Afghanistan, where over 22 million people are going hungry, girls are being pulled from school and married off, including into violent homes, because their families can't afford to feed them.

Tanjina Mirza, chief programs officer at Plan International Canada, says the rise in food insecurity is exposing more girls to forced marriage and child labour to ease the burden on struggling families.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published August 10, 2022.

The Canadian Press