Syrian refugees report rise in child marriage

Posted on August 21, 2012

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Netherlands Aid has an insightful report on how and why some Syrian refugees in Jordan are increasingly turning to child marriage for their daughters:

Difficult conditions in Jordan have many parents pushing to have their daughters married at an earlier age.   The issue has created a concern among many international aid organizations that the rise in child marriage has been brought on as a sort of coping mechanism to adjusting to life as a refugee in the country.

The majority of these young girls are in their early teens and are increasingly being married to older Syrian men as a form of financial and other security against a backdrop of conflict and instability.  Early marriage is against the laws of both Syria (minimum age of marriage at 17 for boys and 16 for girls) and Jordan.  However, in Syria, religious leaders may still approve “informal marriages” at  for girls  from 13 years-old and for boys from 16 years-old…

Hana Ghadban, a volunteer with the Syrian Women Association (SWA), told IRIN that in the Syrian cities of Homs and Dera’a many girls are married at the age of 13 or 14. “We know of so many girls who got married after moving to Jordan. Most of them were engaged in Syria.”

Regardless of the reasons for parents and families to seek early marriage for their children, it is not an escape, but a sentence. A girl who is married young is at a greater risk of abuse, which in extreme instances can result in death.  Girls who marry young consequently give birth young, and therefore have an increased risk for complications or even death in childbirth.

Child brides are also more likely to be voiceless in their marriage, regarding most, if not all, major decisions. Child brides are also less likely to compete their education, maintain social circles, In the developing world, it is estimated that one-third of girls are married as children.  Child marriage violate the rights of the child in many ways, but the most concerning violation is a girls right to consent, and this right is continually violated through the life of the marriage for most girls.

It is estimated that 10 million girls a year worldwide are victims of child marriage; therefore, this spike in child marriages by refugees must not be taken lightly.

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