Amman (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Poverty and fear of
sexual violence have doubled the number of young girls being given in marriage
among the estimated 600 thousand Syrian refugees in Jordan. A report by Save the
Children denounces the phenomenon stating that before the start of the civil
war marriages of girls were 13% of all marriages, but that this number "has
doubled since the beginning of the conflict."
The report states that 48% of girls are forced to marry men at least 10 years older than them. And "the girls who marry before age 18 are more likely to suffer domestic violence than their peers who marry later" and "are at extreme risk if and when they become pregnant." This is because the consequences of "being involved in sexual activity while their bodies are still developing are devastating: girls under 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than adult women".
The data of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) show that among Syrian refugees in Jordan, the rate of marriages of girls has increased from 18 percent of all marriages in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013 and jumped to 32 percent in the first quarter of 2014. UNICEF also highlights the fact that the child brides "also have more limited economic opportunities, as they lose out in schooling and may be the victims of a vicious cycle of poverty."
"As refugees - states the Save The Children report - 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," it said. "Given these pressures, some families consider child marriage to be the best way to protect their female children and ease family resources."