September 18, 2020

Married, pregnant and 13. She needs your help


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Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 8.07.39 PMBy Michael Hayworth, From Walk Free

Maha is 13. Maha and her family fled the conflict in Syria and now live in a refugee camp in Jordan. Maha used to go to school and dreamt of becoming a doctor. Forced to marry an older man by her parents she is now pregnant with her first child.1

She is not alone. Forced child marriage amongst the Syrian refugee population in Jordan is rising sharply2 as more and more families see child marriage as a way to lessen their financial burden and protect girls from sexual violence in the refugee camps.3

The good news is that frontline agencies are working hard to stem the tide of child marriages with education and protection programmes in Jordan, but as it stands these efforts are critically under-funded.4

This is where we can help — but we don’t have long to act. Right now the United Nations is preparing to hold consultations on the humanitarian aid situation in Syria. A huge number of messages to some of the world’s richest nations now could make ending child marriage an international priority.

iNews Cayman readers can you call on the world’s richest nations to help fund the fight to end child marriage in Jordan? Click: Jordan has outlawed child marriage5 but the majority of marriages in the Syrian refugee community are unregistered, which means stopping the ceremonies before they happen is next to impossible.

That’s why these comprehensive education and prevention efforts to address the issue directly are so important. We know these programmes are raising awareness of the dangers of early marriage with thousands of men, women and children.6

Most of the world is doing the right thing by effectively resourcing these activities. It is some of the world’s richest nations like Australia, the US, the UK and New Zealand that are not contributing their fair share of aid.7

Help prevent forced child marriage by asking the world’s richest nations to fund education and protection programs in Jordan.

There is only a small window of opportunity and we will need a huge number of messages to convince countries to prioritise ending child marriage. Once you have taken action, please ask your friends and family to do the same.

In hope,

Michael, Jayde, Olly and the rest of the Walk Free team

P.S. Girls like Maha need your support right now. Please send a message to make sure the world’s richest nations prioritise ending child marriage.





*Please note names of children have been changed to protect identity in the source documents.



3 UN WOMEN (2013) Inter-agency assessment: Gender-based Violence and child Protection amongst Syrian Refugees in Jordan, with a focus on early marriage.


5 Personal Status Law 2002 (Jordan) see reports:—-activists


7 Oxfam (2014) A Fairer Deal for Syrians,


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