Rising Child Marriage Rates After Climate Disasters
A recent assessment conducted by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) spotlights a concerning surge in child marriage within Bangladesh’s climate-vulnerable coastal regions. Particularly affected are areas like Bhola and Shatkhira, experiencing a staggering 39% increase in child marriages post-climate-induced disasters.
The IRC emphasizes the urgent need for sustained funding and collaborative efforts from the government, donors, and non-governmental organizations to tackle this alarming crisis.
Climate Change Impact on Coastal Communities
Climate change has unleashed a cascade of challenges on coastal communities in Bangladesh, including forced migration, extreme poverty, heightened gender-based violence, limited access to education, and food security concerns.
The rise in child marriages directly correlates with the increase in climate-induced disasters such as flooding and cyclones over the past two decades.
IRC’s Active Response to Protect Vulnerable Children
To mitigate the adverse effects on children, the IRC is actively involved in assessing the situation and mobilizing resources. Recent efforts include an in-depth study on child rights in Cox’s Bazar district, with recommendations shared among key stakeholders in Bangladesh.
The IRC prioritizes vulnerable children, providing survivor-centered case management, comprehensive psychosocial support, positive coping strategies, and fostering positive parenting to raise awareness against child labor, child marriage, and other harms.
International Consortium Collaboration for Rohingya Refugees
As part of a consortium led by the Norwegian Refugee Council, the IRC is contributing to a new £2 million program funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. This initiative supports Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, encompassing health services, gender-based violence prevention and response, child protection, and case management services.
IRC Bangladesh Director’s Call for Action
Hasina Rahman, IRC Bangladesh Director, highlights the critical situation, stating,
“Every child deserves the right to life, survival, and development.”
Rahman calls for immediate action, emphasizing the need to improve access to education for girls in climate-vulnerable communities.
The IRC urges the establishment of a formal reporting mechanism for child abuse and exploitation, the creation of child-friendly spaces within communities, provision of psychosocial support, and recreational activities.
Sustainable Funding and Government Intervention
The IRC’s call extends to the Government of Bangladesh, urging the establishment of formal reporting mechanisms and child-friendly spaces. Rahman stresses that sustainable and uninterrupted funding is crucial to mitigating the disastrous impacts of climate change on children.