Syrian refugee youth in Jordan. Early marriages in perspective

Start - End 
2017 - 2020 (completed)
Research Region 
Research Language 
Research Methodology 
Additional tags 
Syrian refugees
Refugee crisis
Critical Development Studies
Gender and Development
sexual and reproductive health
Reproductive Governance



This project examined early marriage practices among Syrian refugees in Jordan in relation to their Sexual and Reproductive Health. The team of this collaborative anthropological research project consisted of anthropologists based in the Netherlands and Jordan, two NGO’s in Jordan and Syrian refugee women. Findings pointed at a wide diversity of contexts of early marriage practices, leading to a diversity of needs of early married women and girls at marriageable age. While it is common in gender and development literature to gloss over the diversity of early marriage practices and contain them in one fixed, generalized category, the variety of understandings by Syrian women contrasted with the predominant use of early marriage as an umbrella term. Contexts determine different needs. Furthermore,  underlying motivations for early marriage varied widely, from reasons associated with life in Syria to motivations that arose after protracted forced displacement. Interviews with healthcare workers, international agencies and Syrian refugees showed that the relation between early marriage and Sexual Reproductive Health complications is contested and ambiguous. A common feature, however, was the culturalization of early marriage practices and stigmatization of the reproductive habits of the Syrian refugee population. 




Katarzyna Grabska

Peace Research Institute Oslo

Marina de Regt

VU University Amsterdam