Jordan: Child marriages increased amid COVID-19 pandemic

There were 7,964 contracts in Jordan for underage marriage, or a marriage where one of the spouses was under the age of 18, in 2020.

Amman: Child marriages in the country of Jordan have been increased last year during the COVID-19 pandemic due to poverty and lack of education among poorer families, Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI), a non-governmental organisation reported on Friday.

The number of child marriage cases registered in Sharia courts jumped by nearly 12 per cent from 2019 to 2020, according to SIGI’s report.

There were 7,964 contracts in Jordan for underage marriage, or a marriage where one of the spouses was under the age of 18, in 2020.

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Among the underage marriages, there were 2,117 girls (26.5 per cent) aged 15-16, 2,570 girls aged 16-17 (32.4 per cent) and 3,277 girls aged 17-18 (41.1 per cent).

The report indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic affected the number of marriages of minors, which increased by 740 contracts.

The report pointed out that there is a “strong relationship between dropping out of school and underage marriage.”

While Jordanian civil law sets the legal age of marriage at 18 for both men and women, it also allows exceptions for those aged 15 and over if a judge considers it to be in their best interests.

The sharp increase has led to calls to change the law and, at the same time to put pressure on judges to reduce the number of marriages granted.

Lawyer and human rights activist, Saddam Abu Azzam told Arab News, “Even if it was a single case, that figure is still high.”

Sociologist Hussein Al Khozahe told The Jordan Times, “The reason behind the increase in the rates of underage marriage during the pandemic may be because marriage costs are lower.”

“The pandemic will continue to play a role in increasing the rates of child marriage,” he added.

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