Wide-Spread Child Marriages In Syria
Child marriages have jumped to an average 20% among Syrian refugee girls, the Syrian Center for Legal Researches & Studies recently reported. Marriages among government controlled areas are also on the rise, as girls are getting married to armed men so they can support their families and protect them.
The Syrian Center for Legal Researches & Studies recently released a report, Factors affecting Syrian Female Minors’ Arranged Marriages as a Wide-spread Phenomenon, exploring the expanding number of child marriages among Syrian's. The problem is so widespread in placed like Jordan with 26.3% of girls in danger, that the UN has stated that child marriages may be used as a "mechanism for coping with new condition." In addition to the high rates of child marriages in Jordan, an estimated 32% of marriages in Egypt and 25% in Lebanon are of Syrian female minors.
The rate of child marriages has been steadily on the rise since the outbreak of fighting in 2011. At the start of the civil war, child marriage rates hovered around 7%. By 2012, the rates had reached 15%, and then doubled in 2015, reaching 30% in some areas. Today, it is estimated that up to 60% of unregistered marriages have been arranged female minors, according to the report.
Arranged marriages among children is an intensive violence against women. According to the definition mentioned in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); Article I states that: “violence against women includes any kind of violence against women for being a woman, or any violence that affects women unfairly, including actions that might cause any physical, mental, psychological and/or sexual damage, or any threats for doing such acts, any form of coercion, and all forms of denying freedom”.
When a child is forced into marriage as a minor, she is at an increased risk of physical and psychological violence. Her role as a wife at such a young age is often too much for her to bear. The forced marriage may lead to a childhood recession status manifested by psychological disorders such as hysteria and depression. There is also a factor of the young minor being a victim of sexual rape in the marriage.
Child marriages also affects the education of a young bride. Statistics show that 50% of Syrian children do not go to school as it is, which leads to increasing rates of illiteracy, children labor, and female minors’ marriages. This indicates that a large number of minors have gotten married due to dropout from school caused by armed violence, according to the Syrian Center for Legal Researches & Studies.
As it stands, Syrian Personal Status Law does not prohibit a person under 17 years from getting married, even though their laws defines competency for a young man shall be consummated by turning 18, and for the girl by turning 17. The current law allows girls as young as 13 to get married with consent.
As it stands, if the Syrian Personal Status Law or conditions do not change, young girls will continue to be in danger of marriage being forced upon them. The Syrian Center for Legal Researches & Studies recommends an increased in "security for refugee camps, pursuing the gangs interested in sexual abuses, kidnapping and molestation which usually target women.” They also recommend a cancelling of all reservations set on the CEDAW convention and a new found interest in empowering minor girls.