India, the trafficking of young brides and children

Covid in India
Nella foto: sposi bambini in India, 23 febbraio 2019, autore Damgararavishankar, fonte Wikipedia Wikimedia Commons.

The Covid pandemic has severely worsened two scourges suffered by Indian society: child brides and child trafficking. Although the law formally prohibits it, poor families often force girls as young as teenagers to marry, because in this way they have the opportunity to feed themselves and escape extreme poverty. The pandemic has aggravated the situation for various reasons. Many workers are now unemployed and without income, others are dead or seriously ill. The state is unable to adequately protect children, who are virtually left to their own and exposed to serious dangers. NGOs do what they can, but the situation is significantly deteriorating.

Early marriage of girls often involves school dropouts

Early marriage of girls often involves school dropouts. It is also determined by the fact that the poorest families, who had moved to the cities in order to get a job, now have to return to small villages with no educational facilities. Education has been a very important point of reference for girls in the past: they could seek help from friends and teachers if forced into early unions. The government has ordered the closure of educational institutions to contain the contagion and when they are reopened it will not be easy to get the girls back. The families themselves discourage young girls, fearing that they will not be able to support them in the future.


Extreme poor male children are hired by manufactures which pay salaries of around 50 euros per month. As in the first industrial revolution in Europe, their small, nimble fingers are suitable for simple and strenuous jobs that are not offered to adults. Children find employment in large plants that are hundreds of kilometers away from their villages. The transfer is handled by smuggling organizations that the police try to fight with mixed results. The social fabric thus crumbles into a situation of unspeakable personal and psychological suffering. Again, the law prohibits child labour, but according to UNICEF, 40% of Indian minors between the age of 7 and 14 – that is, about 10 million – work. In Pakistan the percentage is higher, up to 88%. The dramatic situation is very well described in a BBC report.