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‘Child marriage issue escalating into human trafficking case’

Local human rights centre calls for including child marriage as type of trafficking in new draft law on anti-human trafficking

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Apr 25,2018 - Last updated at Apr 26,2018

AMMAN — The issue of child marriage in Jordan is escalating into a case of human trafficking, the Tamkeen Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights warned in a press statement on Monday, pointing out that “the age and lack of awareness of married young girls in Jordan makes them vulnerable to exploitation, turning them into victims of the psychological, social and health consequences deriving from child marriage”.

“Most child marriage cases in Jordan shall also be considered as human trafficking crimes according to the definition of forced marriage,” the statement said, noting that “the position of the girl in the marriage is usually not taken into consideration and several marriages are celebrated without the wife’s consent or obtaining it through deceptive methods”.

“A child marriage case should always be considered as a forced marriage since we could not even consider a child’s ability to make such decision,” Tamkeen Director Linda Kalash told The Jordan Times, calling on legislators to include this type of trafficking in the new draft law on anti-human trafficking. 

 Kalash highlighted the “extreme” age gaps recorded in several marriage cases, noting that “such marriages are directly linked to the sexual exploitation of children, with consequences in the social, physical and sexual fields". 

The statement referred to a previous report by the Department of the Chief Justice and the government’s Department of Statistics, which showed that a total of 10,434 minors were married over the past year, with 846 cases registering an age gap beyond 15 years between husband and wife.  

Out of the 846 cases, 29 marriage contracts surpassed the 33 years of age difference, and 9 marriages exceeded the 50 year age gap.

 "The ages registered in the report constitute a clear violation of the provisions of the law, which require the age difference among parties not to exceed 15 years,” the statement said.

The centre called on the government to amend the Anti-Human Trafficking Law in order to combat child marriage, in addition to reforming the public education system including early marriage awareness in schools’ curricula. 

An in-depth report by the Tamkeen centre on the child marriage issue in the Kingdom will be published during the following week, Kalash told The Jordan Times. 

Earlier this year, Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI)’s President Inaam Asha reported that 55 out of 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 18 in Jordan are subjected to early marriage, constituting 13.4 per cent of overall marriages in 2016. 

The institute called for the abolition of the provision in the Civil Status Law allowing child marriage by giving judges the authority to allow girls at 15 years to get married if the groom is considered competent.

“The definition of a man’s competency to marry a girl under the age of 18 differs from one person to another, which might be considered for some as financial and for others as cultural for example,” Asha noted. 

For her part, SIGI’s Executive Director Asma Khader noted  that both amendments to the law and the society are needed to put an end to the issue.

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