COVID-19 poses a grave threat to the world’s children. As we showed in our previous report, while the mortality rate for healthy children infected by the virus has been lower than for adults and those with pre-existing conditions, 30 million are still at risk of illness and death. It is the indirect effects and impacts of this disease that pose a clear and present danger to children, particularly the most vulnerable.
This report looks at one those impacts of COVID-19 on girls and boys. Violence. We predict a major spike in the cases of children experiencing physical, emotional and sexual violence, both now and in the months and years to come. Whether they are forced to stay at home, or, in time, are sent to work or pushed into early marriage, boys and girls face a bleak future – unless governments, UN agencies, donors, NGOs, and the private sector do everything thing they can now to protect them.
Key findings of this report:
- Up to 85 million more girls and boys worldwide may be exposed to physical, sexual and/or emotional violence over three months as a result of COVID-19 quarantine.
- We believe most of the as many as 13 million extra child marriages predicted by UNFPA will occur in the years immediately following the crises, with at least four million more girls married in the next two years.
- A national assessment supported by World Vision and coalition partners in Bangladesh revealed beatings by parents or guardians had increased by 42% and that there was a 40% increase of calls to the child helpline.