NYT: Global Warming Will Cause More Forced Child Marriages

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The New York Times published an article by the Thomson Reuters Foundation (TRF) Tuesday claiming global warming could cause more child marriages and sexual abuse in third world cities.

Brishti Rafiq’s father brought her to live in Dhaka, Bangladesh when she was a little girl after floods washed away her river-front home. It wasn’t long before her father forced her into an arranged marriage.

Bristhi opposed the marriage, and it eventually fell through after it was discovered her husband-to-be already had a wife. But TRF reported it was just one case of a big problem in Dhaka, and one that could be made worse by global warming.

Experts “fear that growing migration to already overcrowded Dhaka, as climate change pressures exacerbate poverty, could result in a new surge in child marriages,” TRF reported in NYT.

“Early marriage not only deprives girls of education and opportunities but increases their risk of death or severe childbirth injuries if they have babies before their bodies are ready,” TRF reported.

“The flood of rural families moving to Dhaka’s slums is growing as people lose their homes, farms and jobs to river­bank erosion and climate change pressures, such as worsening floods and droughts and more intense storms,” TRF added.

TFR noted that child marriages have decreased in recent years, from 29 percent of girls married by age 15 to just 18 percent. That’s despite Bangladesh banning marriage before the age of 18.

Environmental academics have been warning for years that global warming would cause mass migrations from regions of the world afflicted by extreme weather, bringing on a wave of refugees that could cause violent conflicts.

The United Nations famously predicted there’d be 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010. That prediction never came true, and the UN deleted the webpage making that claim.

Now, some experts predict there could be 50 million climate refugees by 2020.

Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, told TFR that Bangladesh averaged one major flood every 20 years. That’s increased to one every five years in the last two decades.

“Huq predicted some 10 million more migrants would head to Bangladesh’s cities in the next two decades,” he told TFR.

“Unfortunately it is a losing battle,” Huq said. “Climate change is always a step ahead of what we can do in order to combat it.”

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