UN States Child Marriages in Jordan Must be Fought

Published October 27th, 2019 - 08:38 GMT
Although the phenomenon of child marriage is decreasing globally, the situation in Jordan is the opposite, according to Hikmat.

Activists and UN officials on Thursday said that efforts needs to be made to combat child marriage in Jordan by raising awareness and introducing more restrictions to limit cases of early marriage.

The calls were made at a session held at Columbia Global Centres in observation of the 74th United Nations Day, which was organised by the UN Country Team composed of 20 resident agencies.

The commemoration of the UN Day included ten seminars on various development topics that are priority issues in Jordan and which the UN is supporting the country to address.     

Child marriage is a grave violation of children's rights, said Ruba Hikmat, health promotion, child protection and education specialist at UNICEF.

Although the phenomenon of child marriage is decreasing globally, the situation in Jordan is the opposite, according to Hikmat.

"Local figures indicate that there are hundreds of girls under 18 who are wed and divorced in one year," Hikmat pointed out.

These figures, Hikmat added, "should make us think about these girls and how their lives are now, after they were divorced at this young age and are back living with their families".

The legal age for marriage in Jordan is 18 for both men and women, but the law allows for several exceptions for girls aged 15 and above if a judge deems it in their best interests.

According to the Chief Islamic Justice Department’s official statistics, there were 77,700 marriage contracts issued in 2017, of which 10,434 (around 30 per day) involved marriages in which the wife was under the age of 18.

Government statistics indicated that divorce cases among individuals under 18 amounted to 5,335 in 2017, of which 413 cases involved wives under the age of 18.

Meanwhile, Gender-based Violence Specialist at UNFPA Pamela Evello added that marrying a child who is less than 18 "denies her right to control her body and choice of when and how many children she can have". 

"There is no one formula that could solve this complex issue, and that is why we are constantly working with the government and civil society to find solutions," Evello added.

According to a 2019 UNICEF report, around 21 per cent of young women globally were married before their 18th birthday, and 12 million girls under 18 are married each year. Around 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, according to the UNICEF report. 

Sisterhood is Global Institute Executive Director and former minister Asma Khader also pointed out that marrying girls and boys at a young age is basically "tampering with their future".

"This means that they will not get the chance to have a good education or work experience, which could result in lessening their chances of obtaining a good career and leaving them dependant on their families for a long time," Khader said.

That is why, Khader maintained, there needs to be strong monitoring at courts to ensure that "there is no abuse in expectations when a judge decides to allow a girl who is between the ages of 15 and 18 to wed".

Khader also mentioned the need for “constant” awareness-raising sessions for parents, community leaders, religious figures, teachers and students about the consequences that could result from early marriage for both boys and girls.

This article has been adapted from its original source.    

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