Child marriage by 15
Child marriage by 18
|Are there Girls Not Brides members?||1|
|Does this country have a national strategy or plan?||Developing|
|Is there a Girls Not Brides National Partnership or coalition?||No|
|Age of marriage without consent or exceptions taken into account||Minimum legal age of marriage below 18 years|
What's the prevalence rate?
Child marriage rates are most prevalent in Amman with 3,075 girls and 84 boys married under the age of 18 in 2017. Irbid had the second highest rates with 2,041 girls and 41 boys married, Zarqa with 2,197 girls and 53 boys married, Balqa with 471 girls and 21 boys married.
What drives child marriage in Jordan?
Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Jordan, child marriage is also driven by:
Poverty: Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, poverty in Jordan has increased by 38% and 18% amongst Syrian refugees. Some families, particularly those with multiple daughters, marry them off in order to reduce their perceived economic burden and the number of mouths that they are required to feed.
Harmful practices: Some families marry off their daughters to provide them with sutra, a concept rooted in Islam but now widely accepted among faiths in Jordan. Sutra means a secure life, protection from hardship and safeguarding for a girl’s future.
Cultural norms: A 2014 UNICEF study found that a number of Jordanian, as well as Iraqi, Syrian and Palestinian refugees considered child marriage to be acceptable in “compelling circumstances”. These included teenage pregnancy, an abusive home environment and the preservation of cultural traditions. Some Jordanian parents marry off their daughters because they are concerned that the internet will expose them to undesirable behaviour that may damage future marriage prospects. Child marriage is also seen as a solution to sexual harassment that is taking place within a family. Parents believe that the younger their daughters are when they marry, the more they are protecting them.
Religion: Some sheikh (a community leader, an elder, or governor) and Sharia court judges have expressed acceptance of child marriage, considering it to protect girls from destitution, sexual abuse and honour crimes. In July 2020, out of 17 Sharia registered marriages, 13 were child marriage cases (76%).
Lack of citizenship: Most refugees in Jordanian camps are of Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian origin are most vulnerable to child marriage. Often, these refugee girls are married to a Jordanian man by parents in the hope they will be able to move to Jordan. Parents may also marry them off due to a desire to keep them safe from sexual violence, sexual harassment and insecurity within the refugee camps.
COVID-19: The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerability of children and particularly adolescent girls, which has led to an increase in child marriages in Jordan. The national statistical report of 2020 issued by the Supreme Judge Department in Jordan indicated an increase in child marriage with 7,964 cases (almost 122% of girls married under the age of 18) in comparison to 11% of girls married in 2019. The number of boys married under the age of 18 in 2020 was 194. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has also been an increase in child marriage within the Jordanian refugee camps. In June 2020, 13 child marriages were recorded out of 16 total marriage cases in the camps. In July 2020, this number rose to 37 child marriage cases out of 65 total marriages (57%). Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the increase in child marriages, the International Catholic Migration Commission conducted 4,938 outreach assessments within refugee and Jordanian households in northern Jordan, 2,539 of which were in Irbid. The aim of these outreach assessments was to identify children who were at risk of child marriage.
Since the start of the Syrian crisis in 2011, Jordan has become the third largest host country of refugees with 702,506 refugees and 4,870 asylum-seekers. The refugee influx has put immense pressure on Jordan’s economy and resources, and most Syrian families rely on humanitarian assistance. Across Jordan, refugees live in three main camps: Zaatari, with 78,679 Syrian refugees, Azraw with 42,174 refugees and Emirati-Jordanian camp with 6,520 refugees.
Humanitarian crises exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. While gender inequality is a root cause of child marriage in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see child marriage as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence. Among the refugee population in Jordan, child marriage is exacerbated by:
Displacement: A 2014 Save the Children report states that as many as one in four registered marriages in Syrian refugee communities involve a girl under the age of 18. While child marriage is not uncommon in Syria, ongoing instability has caused rates of child marriage to increase, transforming an acceptable social practice into a perceived imperative to keep young girls safe in the refugee camps, particularly against sexual violence with a view to protect the family honour. UNICEF reports that “opportunists” pretend to be sheikhs and conduct illicit marriages in Za’atari refugee camp, and some older Saudi and Jordanian men reportedly visit the camp to marry Syrian girls as young as 13. Similarly, child marriage also affects Palestinian and Iraqi refugee girls in Jordan.
Relocation: Some Syrian girls are married off to enable them to move out of refugee camps and into host communities. Among Palestinian refugees in Jerash camp, marriage to a Jordanian spouse is considered to bring greater rights and opportunities.
What international, regional and national commitments has Jordan made?
Jordan has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals. The government is due to submit a Voluntary National Review in 2022 at the High Level Political Forum.
Jordan co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.
Jordan ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1992, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.
In 2018, the CEDAW Committee expressed concern at the extent of trafficking of young Syrian refugees who were lured into prostitution with the false promises of marriage and a better life. The Committee also expressed concern regarding the sale of children, child marriage and the practice of muta’a marriages, where a family receives payment for a girl, allowing her husband to sexually abuse and exploit her and the marriage be terminated at a predetermined time.
In 2017, the CEDAW Committee expressed concerns about the high number of girls, as young as 15 years of age, who are married due to the extensive use of derogations from the minimum age of marriage, and the prevalence of child marriage among refugee girls, many of them in polygamous marriages. The Committee urged Jordan to prevent the practice of child marriage and conduct awareness raising campaigns about the negative consequences of such marriages.
During its 2013 Universal Periodic Review, Jordan supported a recommendation to eliminate child marriage and limit the circumstances in which those under 18 years of age can marry. During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Jordan agreed to review recommendations to enforce more effective measures to end early and forced marriage, especially among refugee communities.
In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Jordan committed to reduce sexual and gender-based violence by implementing legislations and the National Plan to reduce child marriage.
At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.
What is the government doing to address child marriage?
The Jordanian Government is building an evidence base for limiting marriages under the age of 18. Jordan is undertaking and publishing a national mixed methods research study on the drivers of child marriage. There are seven governorates that are the focus of this research: Mafraq, Zarqa, Irbid, Amman, Karak, Ma’an and Jerash. The findings of this report will be harmonised with the National Action Plan for Implementing the Recommendations of the “Child Marriage in Jordan” Study to Limit the Marriage of Individual under the Age of 18 in Jordan 2018 - 2022.
In the context of the humanitarian response to the Syrian refugee crisis, child marriage was identified as a priority issue by the Jordan’s Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Sub-working group. The Jordan Response Plan for the Syrian Refugee Crisis (2017-2019) also highlights that early marriage can be a negative coping mechanism for those living in camps, and the need to examine how early marriage applications are evaluated and strengthen gender sensitive and child friendly protection systems that address early marriages.
In December 2018, the Jordanian House of Representatives agreed to a minor change in the wording of the Personal Status Law, from allowing exceptions for girls who “completed 15 years of age” to those “who reached 16 years of age.” According to civil society, this minor change to the wording indicates a lack of political will to address child marriage Jordan.
Since 2018 the Higher Council for Childhood, Ministry of Social Affairs is reportedly developing a National Strategy on Child Marriage, following completion of a 2017 study on the economic and social drivers of child marriage.
In 2016, the National Committee on Child Marriage was established by the Family Protection Department. The main aim of this committee was to ensure a cross-sectorial response to child marriage, specifically at a policy level.
In November 2013, an Early Marriage Task Force was established to reduce and mitigate the consequences of child marriage and to establish referral pathways for Syrian and Jordan girls to receive medical, legal and psychosocial support.
The Higher Population Council, the Jordanian National Commission for Women, UN Women, UNICEF, UNHCR and UNFPA are implementing a joint project to end child marriage in Jordan.
What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?
Under the Jordanian Personal Status law, the minimum legal age for marriage is 18 years. However, children below the age of 16 can receive judicial consent to marry before the age of 16.
In 2017, new regulations were introduced providing an exception to the legal minimum age of marriage. Marriages are now permitted if there is no more than a 15 year age difference between bride and groom. This exception only applies if the groom has no other wives, and the bride can continue her education.
Before marriages are approved, judges are required to declare whether they are satisfied that the groom is both religiously and financially prepared for marriage.
In 2017, the Jordanian government made an amendment to Article 308 of the Criminal Code under Act No. 27 of 2017. Prior to this amendment, a rapist was allowed to marry his victim as it was viewed to be in her best interests. This amendment emphasizes that all marriages are prohibited without full and free consent and the court must confirm the consent and legal age of marriage at 18. Since the legislative change, Sharia judges have been trained to support that all marriages are by consent, choice and freedom.
Child marriage in the Middle-East and North Africa
This study explores child marriage in the Middle-East and North Africa and provides recommendations on how to better address it.
Interagency gender-based violence case management guidelines in humanitarian settings
These guidelines aim to provide standards for good practice to ensure gender-based violence survivors receive quality care in humanitarian settings.
Early marriage and pregnancy among Syrian adolescent girls in Jordan: do they have a choice?
This short editorial is a call to action on preventing and responding to child marriage and early pregnancy among the Syrian refugee community in Jordan.
The role of identification in ending child marriage
This report looks at how well-functioning civil registration systems, providing girls with effective birth certificates, play a crucial role in enforcing child marriage laws.
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