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Further institutional coordination needed to combat early marriage — SIGI

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Aug 13,2018 - Last updated at Aug 13,2018

The Sisterhood Is Global Institute calls for further institutionalised coordination to combat early marriage, warning that the number of marriages between minors stood at 10,434 (Photo courtesy of SIGI)

AMMAN — The Sisterhood Is Global Institute’s (SIGI) campaign to eradicate child marriage “Nujoud” last week issued a statement calling for “further institutional coordination to combat early marriage”, warning that the number of marriages between minors stood at 10,434, according to the 2017 Supreme Judge Department’s annual statistical report.

“Each year, 55 out of 1,000 girls aged between 15 and 18 in Jordan are subjected to early marriage, which constituted 13.4 per cent of the overall marriages in 2016,” SIGI’s President Inaam Asha said during the launching of the Nujoud campaign in April this year, expressing that “we [SIGI] 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”.

The rate of underage marriages in Jordan has remained at the same level for several years, despite the efforts of governmental institutions and civil society organisations to minimise it, according to a study issued by Tamkeen Fields for Aid in June this year, which showed that the increase in the number of underage marriages for girls is directly proportional to the increase in the Jordanian population, with no contribution to this rise stemming from the Syrian crisis.

“Tangible results are needed in order to change the traditional patterns of thought that tolerate this phenomenon, in addition to legislative developments towards the complete abolition of child marriage in Jordan,” the SIGI statement said. 

“We consider child marriage to be a form of violence against girls and boys that often involves benefits and gains, turning it into a human trafficking issue and a form of contemporary slavery,” the campaigners warned, demanding the imposition of penalties for parents and other adults involved in child marriage arrangements.  

The statement also included Nujoud’s declaration on the Jordanian National Charter against child marriage, where campaigners called for the abolition of the provisions of the Personal Status Law that allow child marriage by granting judges the authority to approve the marriage of a girl over the age of 15 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 in this regard. 

In a similar vein, women’s rights activist Hala Ahed on Tuesday stressed the need to abolish the Personal Status Law provisions referenced by the Nujoud campaign, calling on policymakers to raise the minimum age for marriage to 18 “in all cases without exception”. 

The remarks came during a lecture on the Personal Status Law held by the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation, where the activist stressed that “last year, over 10,000 cases of child marriage were recorded in Jordan and the issue remains in dire need of a solution despite the efforts made to combat the phenomenon”. 

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