Jordan Makes Improvements to Child Marriage Law

A marriage of an 18-year old boy to a 15-year-old girl in Iraq
A marriage of an 18-year old boy to a 15-year-old girl in Iraq (Illustrative photo: Salah Malkawi/Getty Images)

 

Jordan recently cancelled a 2011 law regarding child marriage and replaced it with a new law containing a plethora of guidelines that human rights activist are hopeful will discourage the practice.

Where the old law only required a judge to approve that the conditions were “suitable” to marriage under the age of 18, the new law specifies those conditions. They include:

  • No marriage under 15 years old
  • The couple must show a need or good reason for the marriage
  • The court must declare the groom suitable for the bride
  • The bride must freely agree to the marriage
  • Courts must ascertain the marriage will not create any damage
  • The age difference between the couple may not exceed 15 years
  • The groom cannot have other wives
  • The bride must be able to continue her schooling
  • The groom must prove he has the ability to support the bride and pay her mahir, “bride price”
  • The groom is able to provide adequate housing for the couple
  • The couple must present a medical certificate that they are both healthy
  • The bride’s legal guardian must approve of the marriage.
  • The bride has the right to demand that the marriage agreement includes any conditions that she sees fit that will benefit her
  • The bride and groom must go to a special course about marriage and present the court with a certificate that they have completed the course
  • If the court is undecided about as to whether or not to grant approval to the marriage, they can pass the case to the governmental Office of Reform, Arbitration and Family Success. This office must then present its opinion to the court.
  • The groom must present the court a certificate from the Department of Minor Affairs that the department agrees to the marriage.

In response to the new law, the Jordanian human rights group Tadamoon (Solidarity) asked that the law include stipulations that the marriage should not be allowed if both the bride and groom are minors and that the age difference between the couple not exceed 10 years.

In addition, Tadamoon believes that every potential case of child marriage should be referred to the Office of Reform, Arbitration and Family Success, since they are staffed with experts in this area.

The group was hopeful , however, that having to fulfill all the conditions included in the new law would discourage the practice, which it believes negatively effects the lives of underage girls.

In recent years, between 12-14 percent of all marriages in Jordan are conducted with underage brides, even though there is an increased awareness in the society as to the negative effects of underage marriage. In real numbers, that translated to close to 11,000 marriages in 2016 that involved a minor.

Tadamoon spoke to the limits that underage marriage can place on a girl’s education, health, future life choices and the ability to reach her potential.

However, the group was were pleased with the new law, saying that the conditions stipulated could serve to raise awareness for girls as to their rights in a marriage, protect girls and improve their conditions in daily life.

 

MS
Meira Svirsky
Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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