COVID-19 puts 85 million children at risk of physical, sexual abuse- World Vision report

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A report by the World Vision, an international faith-based aid agency has revealed that up to 85 million more children could experience physical, sexual and emotional violence in the next three months as vital isolation measures force them to stay home.  

The report said while on average one billion children are estimated to experience violence each year, the Coronavirus pandemic is increasing existing vulnerabilities and increasing the risk of unreported violence particularly violence against children.   

President and CEO of World Vision International, Andrew Morley, said “We know from bitter experience that times of crisis compound the risks of violence faced by the most vulnerable children. We saw this recently with Ebola, and we’re concerned that the coronavirus pandemic poses a new and grave global threat to children’s safety as quarantine measures isolate families, and economic and social pressures take their toll,”

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He added that “We believe that as many as 85 million more children could suffer, and we urge global leaders to prioritise protecting the God-given rights of children, as well as curbing the spread of COVID-19.”

“It has been recently estimated that there will be an additional 13 million child marriages over the next ten years due to COVID-19, adding to the 150 million already expected to occur in that time period. Our experience shows that most of these marriages will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with the potential to see at least four million more girls married in the next two years.”

The report said “As coronavirus sweeps through nations, millions of people have found refuge by isolating in their homes. Unfortunately, home is not a safe space for everyone as an untraceable number of family members have been isolated with their abuser. Schools and community centres can no longer protect vulnerable children in the way they would usually.”

It continues that ”As a result, our report shows that in numerous countries World Vision has seen reported incidents of child abuse and violence spike since the lockdown measures were imposed. For example in Bangladesh, April’s national impact and needs assessment compiled by a range of stakeholders including World Vision revealed that beatings by parents or guardians had increased by 42%; that there was a 40% increase of calls to the child helpline; and that 50% of those interviewed said the safety and security of girls was an issue in the lockdown.” said World Vision International Global Leader for Advocacy, Dana Buzducea.”

Apart from the threat of child abuse, World Vision also predicts an increase in child marriage and child labour as financial difficulties take a toll on struggling families.

“It has been recently estimated that there will be an additional 13 million child marriages over the next ten years due to COVID-19, adding to the 150 million already expected to occur in that time period. Our experience shows that most of these marriages will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with the potential to see at least four million more girls married in the next two years,” the report said.

SourceABC News

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