UN Women Launches the Interagency Assessment on Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection Among Syrian Refugees in Jordan, With a Focus on Early Marriage.


As a leading agency mandated to work on issues relevant to peace and security and humanitarian action, UN Women launches the Interagency Assessment on Gender-Based Violence and Child Protection Among Syrian Refugees in Jordan, With a Focus on Early Marriage on 16 July 2013. 

The assessment was conducted by the Queen Zein Al-Sharaf Institute for Development (ZENID)and   funded by the Government of Finland. A team of ZENID researchers worked with Jordanian Community Development Centres, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Rescue Committee, Save the Children International, Un Ponte Per, the Jordanian Women’s Union, and the Family Awareness and Counseling Centre.  

This assessment sees light at a time when the brutal two-year civil war raging in Syria has forced the Syrians to endure significant violent events. Resorting to fleeing to neighboring countries namely Jordan, and making up more than 80% of the half a million registered Syrian population there, women and children continue to be the most vulnerable and at alarming rates. The assessment sheds light on the actual knowledge, attitudes and practices of respondents when it comes to GBV and child protection issues as a complementary effort to mitigate the risks faced by crisis-affected women and girls.

During war or other humanitarian crises—such as the current conflict occurring in Syria—the risks to women and girls are heightened. Even after a crisis abates, GBV may continue at high levels as communities struggle to heal and move forward. To date, the majority of programs addressing GBV have emphasized the response—that is, caring for survivors after the violence has occurred. While it is critical to ensure that all survivors have access to essential care and services, the humanitarian community must also pay much greater attention to programs that help prevent GBV from occurring in the first place.

High rates of early marriage among the Syrian refugee community in Jordan instigated the special focus awarded to this phenomenon in this assessment. 51.3% among female and 13% among male respondents were married when they were still children, and half of all participants believed that the normal age of marriage for girls is under 18. Receiving lots of speculation about the frequency and nature, the assessment notes that the issue of early marriage is much more complex than suggested by different sources. It is a strongly rooted rural tradition that is not necessarily perceived as a direct consequence of migration to Jordan.   

Painting a detailed picture of urban refugee life and challenges they face in Jordan, the assessment indicates marked reluctance to discuss intra-family violence, high rates of early marriage and child labor, important differences between Syrian men and women in terms of knowledge and access to services, and marking deficits in services provided to beneficiaries as opposed to their needs. By highlighting these issues, and presenting recommendations, the assessment charts the way forward to all stakeholders