Published: 2017-07-19 16:16
Last Updated: 2017-07-19 16:20
A newly amended law, to lower the legal age for early marriage to fifteen, has drawn criticism on social media and among civil society, with many describing it as a “step backwards”.
In 2002, several changes were made to the Personal Status Law including raising the legal age of marriage for men and women to 18 from 15 for women and 16 for men, but the changes still allowed exceptions.
However, the amended law, published yesterday in the Official Gazette, allows the judge to grant permission for marriage between the ages of 15 and 18, if they are ‘in need of marriage’ in accordance with court instructions.
It stipulates that the fiance must be qualified for marriage in accordance to law No. 21, and that the judge must investigate each individual case to ensure the marriage would be of benefit to both parties.
The court is also entitled to explain to the girl that she has the right “to place conditions that will be to her benefit”.
The amended law states that the age difference between the parties should not exceed 15 years, that the fiance should not already be married, and that the marriage should not be a cause for either party dropping out of school.
The amended law stipulates any man under the age of 18, wishing to be married, must be given the consent of the Department of Minority Affairs in the Fatwa Department.
According to a December report by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI), nearly 20 per cent of marriages registered in Jordanian courts in 2015 involved brides aged between 15 and 18.
Citing the Department of Statistics, SIGI said 16,019 under-age women were married in 2015, amounting to 19.7 per cent of the 81,373 marriages recorded in the Kingdom.
In a 2014 report, UNICEF Jordan Representative, Robert Jenkins, highlighted how child marriage can have immediate and life-long implications:
“Girls that marry before 18 years of age are at increased risk of complications during pregnancy and of being victims of abuse. They also have more limited economic opportunities due to loss of schooling and can get trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty,” he said.