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Jordanian law allows girls as young as 15 to be married, even though age of consent is 18

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The newspaper and broadcaster, Al Jazeera, has an interesting video on its site about a law in Jordan which allows girls under 18 to marry.

Although the age of consent is set at 18, the law allows girls as young as 15 to be married if a Committee of Islamic Judges approves.

One of the judges explains that “there are people for whom we need to make exceptions such as victims of domestic violence and orphans where it’s in the girl’s interests to get married to escape the violence. Sometimes pregnancies result from illegal relationships so the couple must marry because we cannot verify the baby’s lineage unless there is a marriage to avoid social and security imbalances in society”.

Women’s rights activists do not agree, however, arguing that teenage brides miss out on the chance to continue their education and many suffer the consequences of early marriage for the rest of their lives.

  1. This is so interesting Alison, as I’m researching gender equality in Kyrgyzstan at the moment (as you do), and exactly the same thing happens there, a flagrant disregard for the legal age of consent and for the rights of women and young women.

    Even worse is the practice of ‘bride abduction’ which goes on in Kyrgyzstan, which sees girls as young as 12 years old literally kidnapped and married off. As it so shameful to spend a night in a man’s house, once the girls have been abducted they tend to accept the new ‘marriage’ rather than face the shame and stigma against their families, plus the practice is so widespread that many girls and young women simply accept it, although studies have shown that the young women are terrified. The girls pretty much become domestic labour after that. In some rural areas of the country, it has been estimated that up to 80% of all married women were kidnapped brides.

    Shocking, eh? And don’t even get me started on the fact that Kyrgyz government ministers routinely campaign for the legalisation of polygamy……

  2. Did you see the programme about kidnapped brides in Chechyna a while ago on the BBC? So many of them were depressed that they were being exorcised for bad spirits, because of course it was inconceivable to the male priests carrying out the exorcisms that the women’s circumstances might have something to do with their frame of mind.

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