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‘13.5 per cent of married women were minors on wedding day’

One in four women who marries early is illiterate, Higher Population Council says

By JT - Aug 31,2016 - Last updated at Aug 31,2016

MCT illustration

AMMAN — Some 13.5 per cent of married women in Jordan were wed before the age of 18, the Higher Population Council (HPC) said on Wednesday.

Among Jordanian women, the figure stands at 11.2 per cent, while 19.9 per cent of non-Jordanian married women living in the Kingdom were minors on their wedding days, the HPC said, citing the 2015 population census. 

The HPC, which organised a meeting on Wednesday with the concerned authorities and civil society organisations to discuss early marriage, said that Jordan’s commitment to free primary education had not prevented early marriages.  

Most women who married early were educated to primary level or lower, the HPC said, adding that one in four women who married early was illiterate, 

Among Syrian refugees, 35 per cent of all marriages involved a minor in 2015, up from 18 per cent in 2012, the HPC said, citing statistics from the Chief Islamic Justice Department. 

At the meeting, participants discussed the factors which deter Syrians from documenting “marriage contracts” involving an underage bride, including the existence of different traditions and norms in Syria. 

Refugees also believe that their exile is temporary and that they can rectify the legal status of marriages on their return to Syria, participants said. 

At the Sharia courts in Mafraq, which has a high population of Syrian refugees, 6,125 marriages were registered in 2015, and 1,310 — 21.4 per cent — were early marriages.

In Zarqa, 11,750 marriages were registered in Sharia courts, in which 2,049 brides were minors, constituting 17.4 per cent.

Some 2,150 of 15,468 marriages registered in Irbid’s Sharia courts involved underage brides, or 13.9 per cent.  

Some 70,000 girls die annually from complications of early pregnancy, in addition to poverty and the deprivation of basic rights stemming from girls’ wasted potentials, the HPC said, citing a UN report.


According to the UN report, on the state of the world’s population in 2013, the percentage of marriages involving underage brides varied between 8 and 14 per cent from 2005 to 2012.

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