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A study On Child Marriage in Jordan

A study On Child Marriage in Jordan
Higher Population Council
Higher Population Council
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The study of the child marriage in Jordan has aimed at identifying the rate of spreading of this phenomenon among Jordanians and non-Jordanians, finding out the reasons and its different adverse effects, as well as coming up with recommendations that contribute to the reduction of the child marriage and its negative impacts, in addition to supporting the design of the most effective national programs that can enhance the positive trends and practices of the community to deal with the phenomenon.


To achieve the objectives of the study, the descriptive and analytical approach which combines the quantitative and qualitative method has been adopted by using qualitative and quantitative tools in data collection and analysis through depending and reviewing the annual reports of the Supreme Judge Department, and reading and analyzing the Jordan Population and Housing Census 2015, in addition to the evidence gathered by the focus groups discussion.


The results of the study have indicated that there are factors and reasons that forced families to marry off their daughters. Poverty, getting rid of financial responsibilities, and protecting honor of the girl are considered the main reasons that lead to the child marriage, while other reasons have sprung up among most of Syrian families due to custom and traditions, and protection of honor and dignity of the girl because of refugee.


Data collected from the Department of the Chief Justice and the Department of Statistics has confirmed that there is a growing problem at the national level in terms of child marriage who are generally below 18, and in particular among Syrian females.


The statistical analysis and field research for different target groups revealed that marrying off girls under 18 years is increasing in Jordanian society, where there is a clear rise in the number of marriages of girls who are below 18 years old during 2011-2015; where the ratio rose from 13.7% in 2010 to 15% in 2013. The ratio continued to rise in 2014 and 2015, as the ratios reached (16.2% and 18.1% respectively). The highest ratio was in Mafraq Governorate where the ratio was 24.5%, followed by Zarqa Governorate at 18.8% and then Irbid Governorate at 17.7%, while the remaining nine governorates did not exceed the national level where the ratios of rest of the governorates ranged from 13.3% in the capital Governorate, and 5.6% in Tafila Governorate. The 2015 Population and Housing census showed that the ratio of Jordanian women married below 18 years ranged between 9.5% in 2011 and 11.6% in 2015, while Syrian women residing in Jordan were the greatest in number to have married below 18 years; the ratios ranged between 33.2% in 2010 and 43.7% in 2015. In addition, the rate of marriages registered with the Department of the Chief Justice of Syrian females who are below 18 during the period of 2011 to 2015 increased compared to the national rates recorded; where the rate rose from 12% of the total number of the registered marriages in 2011 to 18.4% in 2012, 25% in 2013, 32.3% in 2014, and continued to rise in 2015, reaching 34.6%. This means that one-third of Syrian females who married in 2015 were below 18, while this rate was 13.4% at the level national in Jordan.


The statistical data and field research indicated that early marriage deprives girls of completing their education due to marriage, as well as depriving them of skills development and employment opportunities. Most of the Jordanian underage girls acquire either elementary or preparatory education at the rate of (66.7%), while the Syrian girls are holders of elementary or preparatory certificates at the rate of (69.3%). In addition, the ratio of the illiterate Syrian women stands at (9.8%) while the ratio of the literate women stands at (15.2%). Due to the lack of educational opportunities, and dysfunctional social custom and traditions, the study found that the vast majority of Jordanian and Syrian women are neither working nor looking for jobs. The females who married below 18 were neither working nor looking for jobs. They formed the vast majority of the females who married throughout the years, and their rate was between 94.2% for ones who married in 2010 and 96.3% for the ones who married in 2015.


The data also indicates that the majority of Jordanian females who are got married below 18  or (76.7%) of them are living in houses owned by the family or a member of the family. While three-quarters of Syrian females (74.8%) who are got married below 18 are residing in rented and unfurnished accommodation.

The results of the field research manifested that child  marriage has some negative health and psychological effects. Consequently, child  marriage leads to encountering difficulties in pregnancy and birth, and also increases social responsibilities. The statistical data also indicated that more than half of Jordanian women who got married below (18) years, and (69.4%) of the Syrian women were not insured. The rate of maternal mortality due to pregnancy of women between ages 13-19 were 6.3% of the total deaths that occurred during pregnancy. On the other hand, no maternal mortalities occurred among the women between ages 13-19 during the 42 days after delivery (post-partum period).


The results showed that the ratio of Jordanian women who usually married Jordanian men stands at (98.1%), while (97.4%) of Syrian women married Syrian men. Jordanian husbands are more educated than their underage wives and their Syrian counterparts. The qualitative and quantitative research confirmed that the ratio of the unemployed Jordanian and Syrians husbands are high. (45.3%) of Jordanian husbands and (13.6%) of Syrian husbands have permanent jobs. According to the aforementioned ratios, the family responsibility and decision-making have become more complicated. As a result, the underage wives are usually abused by their husbands' family members. The rate of divorcees who got married below 18 reveals that 5.3% are of other nationalities, 3.7% are Jordanians, and 1.8% are Syrians, while the rate of widows and separated together does not exceed one percent.


Conclusion and Recommendations:

The study recommended that there should be a strategy or policies established at the national level to combat child marriage and its negative effects. Moreover, there is a need to create a supportive environment for community change through outreach of all segments of society, and to encourage media communications that will raise awareness of the negative effects of child marriage. The study also called for the need to ensure the right to education for all child married women through non-formal educational strategies, and to enhance reproductive health and development programs. The study also suggested to cancel the  exception  and  considering  the  age  of  18  years  of  marriage is  binding for both sexes