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National campaign to fight child marriage launched

By Rana Husseini - Apr 18,2018 - Last updated at Apr 18,2018

According to SIGI, over 10,000 girls under the legal age of 18 are wed each year in Jordan (Photo courtesy of AFP)

AMMAN — Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) on Wednesday launched a national campaign dubbed “Nujoud” to eradicate child marriage in Jordan.

The name "Nujoud" comes from the story of a Yemeni girl who said no to early marriage but became the youngest female to be married and divorced at the age of 10 years old after experiencing physical and sexual abuse during her two-month marriage.   

“Over 10,000 girls under the legal age of 18 are wed each year in Jordan, which lessens their chances of continuing their education,” said SIGI’s President Inaam Asha, noting that the number of marriages in Jordan stands at around 80,000 per year, 10,900 of which involve girls who are between the ages of 15 to 18.

Her remarks came during a press conference to launch the campaign, which also saw the formation of alliances and the collection of signatures to present to the Lower House to demand eradicating all the legal exceptions that entail wedding girls between the ages of 15 to 18. 

During the presser, SIGI also declared April 18 as a national day to fight early marriage, according to Asha.

SIGI and women groups have been calling for abolishing the provision in the Civil Status Law that allows child marriage by giving judges the authority to allow girls from 15 years old to get married if the groom is considered "competent".

Each year, 55 out of 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 18 in Jordan are “subjected to early marriage, which constitutes 13.4 per cent of overall marriages in 2016”, Asha told the gathering, stressing that “we consider early marriage as a form of detention and rape inside the house for these girls since the Jordanian law punishes individuals who engage in sexual activities with minors”.

SIGI’s executive director Asma Khader noted that “sometimes, families marry their daughter at a young age in return for financial gains”, underscoring that “this should be considered human trafficking that is punishable by the law".

Khader, who is a former minister, said that the 2016 figures indicate that “we have around 30 girls wed every day in Jordan who are under the age of 18”.

She called on anyone interested to join the alliance, noting that “we already have requests from political parties, activists and NGOs to join our coalition”. 

Khader said that SIGI will conduct several activities across the Kingdom to raise awareness on the issue and will visit politicians and decision-makers to lobby for their demands.  

 “We decided to launch the campaign on April 18 as a symbol because it is the month when flowers blossom and we want to remind everyone that our girls need to blossom and to get married after the age of 18,” Khader concluded.

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