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Syrian Arab Republic

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
3%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
13%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

Photo credit: Adam Patterson | Panos/DFID

Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
3%
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
13%

* References

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

The most recent available data from 2006 shows that 13% of Syrian girls are married before the age of 18 and 3% are married before their 15th birthday. These prevalence rates may have changed significantly since conflict in the country began.

The most recent available data shows that child marriage was most prevalent in Daraa (where 26% of women aged 20-49 were married before the age of 18), Rural-Dam (25%) and Quneitra (23%). Child marriage occurred in both rural and urban areas of Syria as of 2006.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. Due to the state of conflict and devastation in Syria, there is a lack of accurate data and information on the drivers, prevalence and consequences of child marriage there. However, available studies show that the practice is largely driven by:

Displacement: The onset of war and the mass displacement of millions of refugees has led to a dramatic rise in the number of girls married as children in neighbouring countries. Syrian refugees in countries such as Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon are being married off as their families struggle to survive on few resources and want to protect them from widespread sexual violence in camps.
Traditional customs: A 2013 UN Women study found that child marriage is an accepted traditional Syrian practice that predates the crisis. Many refugees interviewed in the study did not identify child marriage as a negative issue impacting refugees. They noted, however, that practices had changed in camps and girls were marrying older men who are considered better protectors.
Trafficking: Some mothers have expressed concern about letting their daughters leave camps as external men reportedly search for Syrian girls to marry.

What has this country committed to?

Syria has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Syria ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1993, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 2003, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2016 Universal Periodic Review, Syria agreed to examine recommendations to protect girls from child marriage.

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

It is very difficult for registered NGOs to work in Syria or gain access. Security concerns and restrictions on the type of projects that can be implemented make it difficult to address issues of child protection.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the Syrian Personal Status Law the minimum legal age of marriage is 18 years for boys and 17 years for girls. However girls are able to marry at 13 years and boys at 15 years with judicial consent.

Source

BBC News, Child brides: the Syrian girls pushed into early marriage, [website], 2016,  (accessed June 2018)

Central Bureau of Statistics, Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2006, 2008, (accessed April 2018)

UNFPA, New study finds child marriage rising among most vulnerable Syrian refugees, [website], 2017, (accessed April 2018)

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Syrian Arab Republic, 2016, p.24, (accessed April 2018)

UN Women, Gender-based violence and child protection among Syrian refugees in Jordan, with a focus on early marriage, 2013, (accessed June 2018)

United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform, [website], 2017, (accessed February 2018)

* Child marriage prevalence is the percentage of women 20-24 years old who were married or in union before they were 18 years old (UNICEF State of the World’s Children, 2017)