Worldwide, one in every three girls is married before they’re 18 and every two seconds another girl is forced into marriage.
In CARE International’s Vows of Poverty: Child Marriage report, the organisation identifies 26 countries where girls are more likely to be forced into a child marriage than enroll in high school. Niger, Chad and the Central African Republic top the list with the reality looking murkier the more we delve into the report. Consider these alarming statistics:
? In Niger, 76 per cent of girls are married before 18, with just 10 per cent of girls enrolled in secondary school.
? In Chad, 68 per cent of girls are married before 18, while just 5 per cent of girls are enrolled in secondary school.
? In the Central African Republic, 68 per cent of girls are married before 18, with just 10 per cent of girls enrolled in secondary school.
Why is this happening?
Gender discrimination, poverty and economic discrimination, cultural or religious customs, inadequate laws, trafficking and kidnapping… the list continues, however, an alarming trend we’re seeing emerge in Syria is related to war and conflict.
A sad reality is that girls often become the first casualties of war – kidnapping, rape, trafficking – such atrocities often lead parents to opt for what is considered a lesser evil: marrying their daughter at a young age to a man they hope will protect and provide for her.
The Syrian war acts as a prime example of war and conflict having grave consequences for girls. CARE’s Protect Her Honour report highlights the spike in registered child marriages.
Between 2011-2014, the number of marriages in Syrian refugee populations in Jordan involving a girl aged between 15 and 17-years-old has tripled, from 12 per cent to over 30 per cent.
While we can reel off as many stats and numbers as we see fit, often, what is overlooked is the impact the situation is having on the people living and breathing this reality.
Isadora Quay, a Gender in Emergencies Specialist for CARE International, has seen things most of us only read or hear about on the news.
Her time spent on the ground in Turkey speaking with Syrian refugees living in camps has provided us with priceless insight into the mindset of people suffering as the country’s four and a half year civil war rages on.