Home Institution

University of New Hampshire

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

Jordan: Refugees, Health, and Humanitarian Action


This study examined the perceived causes of child marriage among Syrian refugee populations in Jordan and investigated its perceived consequences. Further, perceptions of mothers with school-aged children were compared to the opinions of children themselves. Through interviews with both target populations, along with an analysis of the responses of humanitarian activists and organizations to Jordan’s marriage law, the reality of child marriage within the country was ascertained. In conducting interviews, the data showed that many believed child marriage to be a normal occurrence in Syria, at least since the beginning of the war, with only two interviewees believing child marriage to also be normal in Jordan. Instead of attributing this as a purely cultural difference, many of the interviewees claimed dire financial circumstances, as well as a desire for overall security, to be the reasons why many marry early.

Over 700 million women around the world have been married before the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2014b). Jordan is no exception to this global issue: on a national level, child marriage occurs at a rate of 8%; however, almost one-third (32%) of marriages within the Syrian refugee population in Jordan are with a girl under the age of 18 (UNICEF, 2014a). In order to stop child marriage, refugee mothers advocated for increased education initiatives and raising awareness, while children proposed eradicating poverty. Many activists and legal organizations cited the need to close loopholes in the current law and create a system to foster greater accountability. Further, this study illustrated the need for increased attention to the long-term effects forced displacement and protracted conflicts can have on livelihoods.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Legal Studies | Migration Studies | Near and Middle Eastern Studies | Sociology | Sociology of Culture


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