JAFFA, Israel – Jordanian authorities have reportedly barred a middle aged man from marrying a 14-year-old Syrian refugee.
The Jordanian police and the government’s Family Protection Unit declared the marriage illegal, because the marriage age in the kingdom is 15.
The girl, who had lost her father, moved in with her uncle in Jordan. Suffering from financial difficulties, the uncle agreed to marry her off in exchange for a large sum of money offered to him by the would-be groom.
The local media reported that the government’s anti-trafficking unit, as well as a number of women’s and children’s rights organizations, have been involved in blocking the “marriage deal” as it became known.
According to the Jordanian Ministry of Religion, 35 percent of Jordan-based Syrian brides are minors, aged 15-18. According to estimates, a number of girls under the age of 15 have been married illegally.
The Arab media has reported extensively on trafficking of underage Syrian refugees who fled the civil war in their native country along with their families. In the Zaatri refugee camp, near the Syrian border, “middlemen” set up Syrian minors, who are often desperate for money, with rich men, especially from the Gulf.
A few months ago, the Al Hayat newspaper reported on the marriage of two sisters, Farihan, 16, and Rihan, 14, who were married off by their father to two brothers from the Gulf, aged 55 and 51 respectively, in exchange for $7,000.
The two brothers rented apartments for their “wives,” but disappeared 20 days later.
The sisters told the paper that ahead of signing the deal – which wasn’t endorsed by the Jordanian Ministry of Religion – the grooms said they would have a religious wedding in their home country, but disappeared shortly thereafter.
Dr Amira Mohammed, a migration and trafficking expert, said that these makeshift marriage certificates often expire after 24 hours, which makes them a thinly veiled outlet of exploitation.