And the stories behind that statistic are terrifying.
Can you imagine how desperate you’d have to be to consider marrying your teenage daughter off to a man 10 years older than her?
It’s been the toughest winter yet for the hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in Jordan.
January storms brought freezing temperatures, heavy snow, wind and rainfall, adding to the hardship for refugees living in makeshift camps and tents with little warmth or protection against the elements.
Urgent appeals from United Nation’s agencies have fallen on deaf ears and the situation is going from bad to worse for Syrian children in particular.
Right now many Syrian mothers and fathers face an unimaginable choice – marry their children off or risk their survival.
Child marriage among the Syrian refugee population has doubled since the start of the war four years ago. Driven by a lack of safety and economic opportunity, girls as young as 13 are being forced into marriage to lessen the financial burden on their family.
Girls like Maha who was going to register for school before her father heard about rapes in the refugee camp where they live. Her father was scared something like this would happen to Maha too, so he married her off. She says: “He forced my sister to get married first, and then he made me get married right after that. It was all very forceful and I had no choice. I didn’t want to get married.”
Her husband, Abdullah, 23, said he married Maha after her father approached him through mutual acquaintances. “It is so hard for a Syrian to find employment here – he was struggling with bills and rent.”
Every year forced marriage sentences millions of women and young children to a life in slavery. It’s a crime that’s widespread, but rarely spoken about – a crime that flourishes in the shadows of society. The UN says that forced marriage is likely to increase in the coming years unless major changes occur.
Due to stigma and lack of awareness about forced marriages, many people do not report cases of forced marriages. We can help ensure that people at risk and their families know that forced marriage happens, forced marriage is illegal and activists around the world are taking a stand to end the practice forever.
- Every two seconds, a child becomes a victim of forced marriage, and that figure doesn’t even include the estimated thousands of victims over the age of 18.
- One in three girls living in developing countries will probably be married before the age of 18.
- Forced marriage is considered a ‘practice similar to slavery’ and was made illegal in international law nearly 60 years ago.
We can speak up for the victims of forced marriage who can’t speak for themselves, and urge world leaders to look within their own backyards, making sure provisions are in place to protect those at risk.