This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Child Brides--Yet Another Disaster Among Syrian Refugees

Life is obviously bad for Syrian refugees, and the future seems generally bleak. But now we have news that the future might even be worse than imagined if the current trend toward child marriages continues in the Syrian refugee camps. The New York Times has the story:
For many Syrians stuck in Jordan’s squalid and sometimes dangerous refugee camps, marrying girls off at younger and younger ages is increasingly being seen as a necessity — a way of easing the financial burden on families with little or no income and allaying fears of rape and sexual harassment in makeshift living spaces where it is harder to enforce the rule of law. As a result, Unicef says, the number of marriages involving girls younger than 18 has ballooned since the war in Syria started.
During the first six months of this year, 32 percent of all registered marriages of Syrian refugees in Jordan involved a girl under the age of 18, according to the Jordanian government. That percentage was up from 25 percent during all of 2013 and, according to Unicef, more than twice as high as the 13 percent of marriages in Syria just before the war that included girls younger than 18.
Even the figure before the war started was way too high, and symbolizes the problems that the country has faced and will continue to face. When young women are married off, they are susceptible to domestic violence, risky pregnancies, and eventually higher than average family size, not to mention reproductive health issues and, of course, an early end to their education. Increasing the percent of girls who are married can only make things worse in the long term.

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