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Study highlights link between child marriage and high school dropout rates among girls

By Rana Husseini - Mar 18,2023 - Last updated at Mar 18,2023

Representative image. Over 90 per cent of females married under the age of 18 stated that they had to drop out of schools after tying the knot, according to a study by Save the Children Jordan (File photo)

AMMAN — Over 90 per cent of females married under the age of 18 stated that they had to drop out of schools after tying the knot, a local study revealed recently.

The findings were listed in a paper that was prepared by Save the Children Jordan titled “Research on the Policy and Practice of Amended Instructions for Granting Marriage Permits to those under the age of 18 in Jordan: Perspective from the Field”.

A copy of the study was provided to The Jordan Times and other media outlets on Saturday.

The study recommended establishing an electronic link between the Sharia Judges Departments and the Ministry of Education to ascertain the academic status of drop-out students and develop necessary interventions to safeguard girls from dropping out of school and continuing their education.  

It also recommended providing guarantees to protect the girls’ right to school education.

This could be through establishing a mechanism that provides flexible education options commensurate with the specific requirements of married girls of school age, the study suggested. 

In addition, the study also suggested raising awareness among school and university students of the consequences of child marriage through school activities and university courses on the health, social and psychological consequences of child marriage and introducing students to ways of reporting forced marriage. 

When female respondents were asked about the necessity behind the marriage, 33 per cent indicated that it was due to customs and traditions, destiny and being related was the second most cited reason with 19 per cent followed by love, a suitable husband and personal desire.   

Following marriage, only 8 per cent of interviewed females reported continuing their education, while 92 per cent dropped out. 

The highest reason cited for school dropout was marriage responsibilities at 46 per cent, followed by the husband’s refusal for the girl to continue her education at 13 per cent and lack of interest on the part of the interviewee to continue her education at 12 per cent. 

Meanwhile, the study stated that when asked whether the judge asked for assurances that the girl would continue her education after marriage, 84 per cent indicated that the judge did not ask for any assurances.

Child marriage — marriage before the age of 18 — is a violation of children’s human rights and a global problem that cuts across countries, cultures, religions, and ethnicities, the study stated. 

In Jordan, the study maintained, the legal age of marriage is 18, but the law allows several exceptions for minors who have completed the age of 15. 

A judge has the discretion to consent to the marriage of a minor who has completed the age of 15 and is under 18 years when such marriage is considered a necessity to achieve interest or evade vice, after ensuring consent and free choice, according to the study. 

A combination of perception survey and key informant interviews were conducted for data gathering and analysis and two separate questionnaires were distributed to females who were married below the age of 18 between 2018 and 2021, and their parents. 

 In the meantime, a total of 132 respondents were interviewed from people who benefit from Save the Children Jordan’s programmes and field partners in governorates, including females who were married at the age of 18 between 2018 and 2021, and their parents.

The study also recommended furnishing more detailed official statistics and information that allow for further study and analysis of the child marriage phenomenon in Jordan and to enable the design of appropriate interventions and policy amendment recommendations. 

This, the study recommended, should focus on conducting in-depth studies (both qualitative and quantitative) to assess the viability of interventions and policies or enable the design of future interventions based on evidence and learning. 

According to the Chief Islamic Justice Department’s official statistics, there were 77,700 marriage contracts issued in 2017, of which 10,434 (an average of around 30 per day) involved marriages in which the wife was under the age of 18.

Activists have in the past attributed the increase in a number of early marriage cases to the economic hardship of many families resulting from the pandemic-induced lockdowns. These families most probably resort to marrying off their young daughters to avoid financial expenses.

Sociologists have told The Jordan Times in recent interviews that underage marriages may create “dangerous consequences for society and children”. 

Underage marriage has psychological, social and economic effects. It deprives children of their right to make their own decisions, their right to social life and the right to education, sociologists warned.

For years, women’s rights activists in Jordan have been demanding an end to early marriage and have conducted dozens of activities to raise awareness of the dangers of such marriages.

One in five girls in the world are said to be married before 18, while 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year and over 650 million women alive today were married as children, according to the Girls not Brides website.

The study was made possible by financial support from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), according to a statement by Save the Children.


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