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Programme to prevent child marriages among Syrian refugees shuttered due to lack of funding

By Elizabeth Turnbull - Jul 18,2019 - Last updated at Jul 20,2019

AMMAN — After fleeing Syria with her family, Masa started a new life for herself in Jordan and after many of her friends began getting engaged, it seemed like marriage was the next step.

At age 16, she dropped out of school and began preparing for her wedding. 

The child protection referral system connected her to protection staff at Save the Children Jordan, who explained the risks associated with being married at a young age and encouraged her to stay in school. 

Yet despite preventing close to 40 child marriages in 2017 and assisting 6,764 children with child protection concerns through awareness sessions, Save the Children Jordan’s programme came to an end last month due to a lack of funding, the organisation’s spokesperson Layal Twal told The Jordan Times on Wednesday.

The system provided awareness and self-empowerment programmes to enhance the knowledge of survivors and educate mothers about positive parenting practices, while also helping build their vocational skills and linking them to jobs or business funding, Save the Children said on Thursday.

According to a 2017 UNICEF Regional Study on Child Marriage, 31.7 per cent of registered marriages amongst Syrians involved a girl under the age of 18 as of the first quarter of 2014.

The repercussions of child marriages can be extremely detrimental and even fatal to the girls involved, as those younger than 18 are more likely to experience domestic violence and drop out of school, while girls under 15 are five times more likely to die during childbirth, according to Save the Children’s “Too Young to Wed” report issued in 2014.

One reason for the prevalence of child marriages among Syrian refugees in Jordan may be due to the fact that in Syria, women are generally encouraged to marry earlier and in times of conflict, parents believe they are protecting their daughters from rape or other abuses by marrying them off young, according to the UNICEF report. 

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