Jordanian researchers have observed a growing phenomenon with alarm: Child marriage among Syrian refugees has skyrocketed in recent years, and many believe it could potentially pose a significant demographic threat if left unchecked.
Over 1.4 million Syrian refugees currently reside in Jordan, the majority of whom fled the raging civil war that has shown no sign of abating. Recent studies have shown that 44% of marriages in Jordan involved a girl under the age of 17, up from 33% in 2010. Experts explain to growth by pointing to the vast sums of money a father can expect to receive by marrying his daughters off at a young age, which can appear attractive to a refugee family mired in poverty.
Jordanian authorities have been watching this trend in panic. Child brides have no chance of furthering their education,as they usually drop out of school, and are expected to produce more children due to their young age.
As the Jordanian population stands at 9 million people, a rising birthrate among refugees can threaten the kingdom's long term stability. Children of Syrian refugees, with their high poverty rate, would face challenges of identity and integration in the future. A recent poll showed that only 41% of Syrian refugees plan on returning to their homeland after the war ends.
The Jordanian government recently moved to address the chronic poverty among refugees by permitting them to work in the construction and agricultural sectors.