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New Arab underage divorce investigation wins 'child journalism award'

Jordanian judges often allow exceptions for brides between the ages of 15 and 17 [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 December, 2018

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An investigation on divorce among child brides by The New Arab's Arabic sister publication has won first prize in the 2018 Child Journalism Award
An investigation on divorce among child brides by The New Arab's Arabic sister publication has won first prize in the 2018 Child Journalism Award, run by the Jordanian Media Institute and UNICEF.

The investigation published in September in Al-Araby al-Jadeed revealed the strong correlation between early marriage and early divorce in Jordan, documenting the cases of child brides who were married and divorced before reaching the age of 18.

Many of the brides suffered from abuse, domestic violence, mental health issues and physical conditions directly as a result of early marriage, according to the invetigation.

The award was presented in a ceremony on Monday, which honoured winning investigations across a number of categories, including print, online, television, multimedia, and audio journalism.

The "Child Journalism Award" was launched in July 2018 "in order to encourage outstanding pieces of child journalism and to promote it in different press and media sectors," according to the JMI website.

The award aims at "supporting the contribution of journalists to qualitative coverage of children issues and rights and to have a positive impact on society, reduce violence against children, and build a child-friendly culture" in Jordan.

Jordanian law sets the minimum age of marriage for girls at 18, though Jordanian judges often allow exceptions for brides between the ages of 15 and 17.

In 2015, 11.6 percent of Jordanian females who married that year were minors, compared to 9.6 percent in 2010.

Robert Jenkins, the head of UNICEF in Jordan, said last year that by the time girls are married, it's often too late to get them back to education.

"Our absolute first line of defence is prevention [of early marriage]," he said, adding that his agency tries to support families and teens so they won't opt for early marriage.

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