NGO warns of doubled child marriage among Syrian refugees
Child marriage has doubled among Syrian girls who have taken refuge in neighboring Jordan, says an international NGO. In a report dubbed “Too Young to Wed,” the Save the Children Fund said on Wednesday that early marriage in Syria accounted only for 13 percent of all marriages before the crisis began in the country back in 2011.
“Early and forced marriage among Syrian refugee girls in Jordan has doubled since the onset of war,” said the report, adding that 48 percent of them were forced to marry men at least 10 years older than them.
“Child marriage is devastating for those girls concerned,” said Saba al-Mobaslat, the NGO’s country director in Jordan, noting, “Girls who marry before 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence than their peers who marry later, and they have much more limited access to sexual and reproductive health, putting their young bodies at extreme risk if and when they become pregnant.”
“As refugees, Syrian families are reliant on dwindling resources and lacking economic opportunities… At the same time, they are all too aware of the need to protect their daughters from the threat of sexual violence… Given these pressures, some families consider child marriage to be the best way to protect their female children and ease family resources,” the report said.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said the rate of child marriages among the Syrian girls in Jordan stood at 32 percent of all marriages in the first quarter of 2014.
The figure had risen from 18 percent in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013.
Jordan is home to more than 600,000 Syrian refugees fleeing the foreign-hatched conflict that has gripped the country since 2011.
Over 160,000 people have reportedly been killed and millions displaced due to the violence fueled by Western-backed militants.