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.