More underage girls married off during pandemic; reasons abound

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AMMAN — A study conducted by Plan International in cooperation with the Human Rights Center at the University of California/Berkeley, Save the Children-UK, and the Information and Research Center at the King Hussein Foundation showed that quarantines indirectly affected families’ decision to marry off their daughters, as it helped carrying out marriage rituals hastily and without having to incur the usual wedding cost, according to Al-Ghad News.اضافة اعلان

Statistics of the Supreme Judge Department show a decrease in the number of underage marriages in 2017, 2018, and 2019, but a rise in 2020, attributed to the pandemic.

Out of 67,389 marriages in 2020, 7,964 were officiated for people under 18, an 11.8 percent increase over 2019, when 7,224 underage marriage cases were registered, and 10.6 percent more than in 2018, when 8,226 underage marriages were officiated.

According to opinion polls run for the purpose of the study among 100 girls from eastern Amman and Karak, girls wanted to get married and leave their parents› home because, during the pandemic, their parents burdened them with much housework or prevented them from leaving the house.

The poll also indicated that many girls felt that early marriage might help their families financially, and that marriage was the best option for them since schools were closed.

The study also showed that many in society view child marriage as normal and sanction it.

Poverty is one of the most common reasons for early marriage, with young girls forced to marry before they reach 18 in order to meet their basic needs and reduce the financial burden on their families, according to the study, which also pointed out that girls are not the main decision makers when it comes to marriage, as parents usually have the final say in this regard.

The decision to marry early is influenced by many factors, according to the study, with girls believing that marriage might enable them to escape a difficult life at home, get things they want, avoid being talked about unkindly, and make their families happy.

The study stressed that strengthening laws and legislation pertaining to early marriage contributes significantly to protecting girls from entering marriage before reaching maturity.

The Jordanian Personal Status Law stipulates that a person, of any gender, must have completed 18 years of age to marry, but that those under the age of 18, and as young as 15, may marry under special circumstances.

According to the study, health is a major factor that is often overlooked when deciding to marry off girls at a young age, as some societies believe that once girls reach puberty, they are mature enough to marry. At the same time, girls rarely receive awareness about their bodies and their sexual and reproductive health, be it from healthcare centers, schools, or even parents.
The study said that it is very important for girls to realize that reaching puberty does not necessarily mean they should have to marry and have children.

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