Photo credit: Adam Patterson | Panos/DFID
Child marriage rates
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 15
UNICEF 2017 % Married by 18
* 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)
The latest official data shows that 13% of girls in Syria are married before the age of 18.
However, the ongoing conflict and subsequent humanitarian crisis has led to a dramatic increase in child marriages within Syrian refugee communities.
Child marriage existed in Syria before the start of the conflict, but 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.
Due to the state of conflict and devastation, there is a lack of accurate data and information on the drivers, prevalence and consequences of child marriage in the Syrian refugee context. However, there is more information available on child marriage of Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries – as well as the Netherlands and other European states.
In refugee camps in Iraq, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon, families are increasingly opting to marry their daughters at a young age as they struggle to survive on few resources and want to protect their girls from sexual violence.
Legal age of marriage
The legal age of marriage for girls in Syria is 17 years and 18 for boys. Religious leaders are however able to authorise exceptions.
- UNICEF, State of the World’s Children, 2016
- UN Women, Gender-based violence and child protection among Syrian refugees in Jordan, with a focus on early marriage, 2013