Women groups on Saturday welcomed a recent decision by the National Council for Family Affairs (NCFA) to reconstitute the national committee to combat early marriage.
The reconstituting of the committee is part of the National Plan to Reduce Child Marriage (2020-2024) follow-up project, which is funded by the United Nations Population Fund, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Secretary General Salma Nims told The Jordan Times that the formation of the committee is “an important step” in combatting child marriage in the Kingdom.
“Many efforts were exerted on the national level to combat this harmful practice that affects mostly girls,” Nims said.
She added that her organisation would work on following up on implementing the national plan to end child marriage in Jordan.
“The numbers have decreased but we still, we have a long way to go,” Nims added.
According to a statement issued by the NCFA, the 2016 national plan aims to review national policies, regulations and legislation, promote family awareness and promote participation among stakeholders to reduce the phenomenon of under the age of 18 marriages, according to Petra.
In addition, the committee will work on activating the partnership between civil society institutions, international organisations and government agencies to enhance coordination and the exchange of information regarding early marriage.
The legal age for marriage in Jordan is 18 for both men and women, but the law allows for several exceptions for girls aged 15 and above if a judge deems it is in their best interest.
According to the Chief Islamic Justice Department’s official statistics, there were 77,700 marriage contracts issued in 2017, of which 10,434 (an average of around 30 per day) involved marriages in which the wife was under the age of 18. In 2018, 8,000 girls under 18 were wed in Jordan, according to official figures.
Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) Executive Director Asma Khader also welcomed the formation of the committee and said what is needed now “is to see more results”.
“We hope that the committee will address the exceptions that still allow early marriage and put an end to them,” Khader told The Jordan Times.
Khader added that SIGI initiated many projects in the past to combat early marriage such as “Nujoud Coalition”, which includes over 500 entities that “worked in raising awareness and tackling laws that still allow early marriage in Jordan”.
“I would like to reiterate that we are ready to support any national efforts and plans to end this harmful practice against young men and women in Jordan,” Khader stressed.
Mizan Law Group Executive Director Eva Abu Halaweh, whose organisation also worked on combatting child marriage, welcomed “the reformation” of the committee.
“This step is very important because it shows the seriousness of the government to minimise the occurrence of early marriage in Jordan,” Abu Halaweh said.
“Tackling the current laws and increasing awareness are two issues that we have been working on with other groups,” Abu Halaweh told The Jordan Times.
Abu Halaweh added that she was also hopeful “that the committee would follow up on the current early marriage cases, explore the kind of problems they are enduring and raise awareness about them”.
For years, women activists in Jordan have been demanding an end to early marriage in Jordan and have conducted dozens of activities to raise awareness about the dangers of such marriages.
Globally, according to the Girls not Brides website, one in five girls in the world are said to be married before 18, while 12 million girls marry before the age of 18 every year and over 650 million women alive today were married as children.