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Marriage of adolescent girls in Jordanian society is in decline. Marriage of adolescent girls in Syrian refugee families still significantly high
Marriage of adolescent girls in Jordanian society is in decline. Marriage of adolescent girls in Syrian refugee families still significantly high
Sunday, 28 January 2024


Marriage of adolescent girls or early marriage means the marriage of girls who have not yet reached the age of 18, and mostly are 16-17 years old, which are the last two years of secondary education. According to the information system of the Chief Justice Department, marriage cases coming from the Sharia courts are registered and classified according to age, gender, nationality and marital status of the groom (single, married, divorced, widower) and the bride (single, divorced, widowed). About 100,000 girls under the age of 18 have been registered married in the last ten years in Jordan.


Some parents/ guardians resort to marry their daughters at an early age to safeguard them, in the belief that marrying a girl at a young age secures her future and lessens the burden and responsibility of taking care of  her as well. Parents/ guardians are unaware of the health, psychological, and social risks resulting from this harmful practice. Girls who are married at an early age are more susceptible to marital violence. Early marriage deprives girls from continuing their education and training. Moreover, teenage pregnancy and childbirth are also fraught with health risks, as children born to teenage mothers are at an increased risk of illnesses and mortality. Young mothers are more likely to suffer during pregnancy and its aftermath. They are more likely to lose their pregnancy or give birth to a premature, under-weight infant. Such births are more likely to suffer from  ill health and mortality soon after birth.

Chief Justice Department Statistics on marriages according to age and nationality of the bride in the last ten years show the start of a decline in the numbers and rates of marriage of girls under the age of 18 as shown in the statistics  of the figure below for the last five years.


Regardless of nationality, this percentage has dropped by about five percentage points between 2017 and 2022, from about (17%) to about (12%). A similar drop occurred among Syrian refugees during the same period from (43%) to about (38%). Yet marriage among adolescent girls is still significantly high.

The impact of the Syrian influx of refugees on early marriage is quite evident in Mafraq Governorate, where the highest rates of marriage of girls under 18 among all the governorates of the Kingdom are recorded. The most recent rate of marriage among adolescent girls was 21.2%, i.e. nearly double the national rate at the level of the Kingdom (11.9%), as  Mafraq Governorate ranks first in the percentage of Syrian refugees it hosts among its population.


The beginning of the decline in the marriage of adolescent girls can be attributed to the national efforts of the authorities concerned with implementing the national action plan to reduce the marriage of girls under eighteen in Jordan. It is also likely that counselling sessions for those about to marry may have contributed to the beginning of the decline in the rates of early marriages. According to the directives of the training courses for those coming into marriage, this training is mandatory to grant permission if one of the partners to the marriage contract is under eighteen. Training courses are conducted by the Sharia Judicial Institute of the Chief Justice Department and in its premises for residents of Amman. Outside Amman, sessions are held in designated places in buildings of selected Sharia courts in the governorates, in addition to selected youth centres affiliated with the Ministry of Youth.