Syria’s civil war is now in its eighth year and, despite displacing 11.5 million people, shows no signs of stopping.
About 5.4 million people have fled Syria since 2011, many of them to Jordan, where the rate of child marriage among Syrian refugee children is on the rise, Al Jazeera reported.
Jordan, which shares a border to the south of Syria, is one of the countries most affected by the Syrian crisis, according to UNHCR. The Middle Eastern country is now home to more than 650,000 registered Syrian refugees — though the actual figure is likely to be higher — and just over half them are children.
Syrians who fled the conflict may have found safety in Jordan, but for most, life is still exceedingly difficult. Approximately 80% of them live below the poverty line and the Jordanian government only began issuing a limited number of work permits to the refugees in 2016.
Driven to extreme measures by poverty, refugee families have been increasingly marrying their daughters off before they are ready.
In the last four years, child marriage among Syrian refugees in Jordan has more than doubled, according to new court data — the number of Syrian marriages in Jordan involving a child bride jumped from 15% in 2014 to 36% this year.
While data suggests that child marriage was a common practice in Syria even before the war, the rate of child marriage is estimated to be four times higher among Syrian refugees now than it was during peacetime.
Many mothers have even married their daughters off to “protect” them from kidnapping, sexual assault, and rape in refugee camps, believing they will be safer if they have a husband.
When girls are married as children, they are often forced to drop out of school to care for their family or have children of their own and lose out on a chance at a full education. As children, young married girls are also more vulnerable to violence at the hands of their partners or their partners’ families.
Around the world, 650 million girls and women alive today were married as children, according to Girls Not Brides. And poverty is a major motivating factor for child marriage worldwide, particularly in cultures where girls are seen as financial burdens are not valued as equals to males.
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