Hi!

My name is Nour. I'm 16, have been married for 1 year, and have a newborn baby. There are other girls like me in my community and people have certain ideas about how we married girls should live our lives.

The information shared on this  visualization tool is based on a study done by IRC in the Bekaa region of Lebanon to better understand different components of early marriage affecting married and engaged adolescent girls. It also aimed to better understand the needs and interests of those girls and how IRC can better respond.

My mother

My husband

My mother-in-law

My friend

My mother

How does early marriage affect an adolescent girl’s life? 

  • Most girls marry fast and without registering the marriage which means the girls have no rights granted in the marriage
  • The girls and her parents make the decision about marriage - mostly the men (fathers). Sometimes the girl is scared, but her aunt and mother help her decide especially if the ‘groom’ is a good man
  • All of a sudden they find themselves caring for a whole family and they need time to adapt to that
  • She barely has time to manage the house responsibilities

What could be done to support her?

  • Give sessions on self-empowerment and how to increase self confidence
  • Give them awareness sessions on adapting to the changes in her life and coping and dealing with problems
  • Sessions on sexual and reproductive health
  • How to take care of their health and get enough nutrients especially during and after pregnancy
  • Sessions on what to expect after marriage
  • How to take part in her community especially in decision making
  • Skills like knitting or making toys or hairdressing classes that they could use to feel better but also to make money

My mother-in-law

How does early marriage affect an adolescent girl’s life?

  • They aren’t allowed to go out before their husbands come back from work or their sisters/mothers-in-law decides to go out
  • She also doesn’t get any dowry; this is making divorce much easier for the man as he wouldn’t have to pay anything for the woman
  • They are usually shocked after marriage about physical intimacy and it takes a while for them to allow their husbands to come close to them. This is leading to abuse or divorce
  • A married girl should care even more for her reputation because now she affects her husband and his family. The society is harsher on married girls. They should never be out of their tent alone

What could be done to support her?

  • Psychological support
  • Skills like knitting or making toys or hairdressing classes and so on which would help them feel better about themselves
  • Preparing her for motherhood
  • Sessions on how to manage households
  • Awareness on what is right and what is wrong, especially for younger girls
  • How to respect their mothers in law
  • Economic help, skills they can use to make money

My husband

How does early marriage affect an adolescent girl’s life?

  • Married girls are marginalized because their husbands are marginalized. Unemployment due to lack of jobs and limited mobility has led to a buildup of frustration in every man’s life, especially young married men with no savings. This has caused distress to the man and his family economically and psychologically
  • Married girls have more responsibilities to handle such as that of children, household and husband’s needs
  • She is moving to a new family and new environment and she needs time to get used to it

What could be done to support her?

  • Financial support for the AG and her husband in the form of financial help or in the form of job opportunities
  • Safe transportation provided for the girls to reach the center or activities or services
  • Vocational skills such as first aid, nursing, knitting, hairdressing and physiotherapy. They can use these skills when they go back to Syria to work and make money and help in rebuilding the country
  • Social support networks where they speak about their problems and get guidance from more experienced individuals that are for woman only
  • Married girls should be targeted as a group by themselves as they have different opinions and levels of knowledge

My friend

What information or activities could support her?

  • Registering marriages and childbirths
  • Dealing with the mother-in-law and sister-in-law
  • What to expect after marriage especially for soon to be married girls
  • Self-care during pregnancy (especially emotional changes)
  • Information on raising children
  • Organizing trips outside of their area and center
  • More information about relationships and love
  • How to manage housework chores

How does early marriage affect an adolescent girl’s life? 

  • Married girls have more responsibilities at home towards their husbands and children and are busy with household chores
  • They have less personal freedoms because they have to consult their husband and his mother or sister for every decision they want to make
  • They have very limited mobility
  • They have no time to watch TV or use Facebook or WhatsApp especially after having the first child
  • They have less social networks and they lose so many friendships after marriage

“Now that we have seen what people in my life think, let’s look at the reasons why girls like me are getting married.”

Education

  • Girls won't get an official certificate to use when they go back to Syria for work or further education
  • Schools are not a 'safe space'; some girls are harassed by other pupils or teachers
  • Quality of education is not good enough
  • Discrimination against Syrians in schools

Protection

  • Worries about the girl’s reputation and her honor
  • In the IS/ITS, girls are sitting in shared spaces with young men even in the tents which could lead to sexual ‘wrongdoings’;
  • Providing protection and security for the girls especially when the father is not in the same ITS/IS

early marriage protects the girl’s honor as young as possible (السترة)

Financial

Economic situation of the family, one less child to feed

Living setting

No privacy or space in the tent to fit the whole family

“Now that I’m married, I don’t get to do the same activities that I did before. Let’s explore the barriers I face when trying to access services and activities.

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Married girls like me have particular challenges and barriers in accessing services and activities as we just saw. IRC talked to different people in my life and in the lives of other married girls to figure out ways to better reach us. The biggest need was changing how outreach could be done with husbands, mothers-in-law, fathers, and mothers to increase their acceptance of participation. So IRC developed a new outreach strategy.

Outreach strategy refined based on FGDs' results

The married and engaged adolescent girls prioritized their topics of interests and needs in the following order:

Based on the adolescent girls’ feedback, the sessions of the Tailored Life Skills Package were developed as follows:

Module 1: Introduction and trust building 

Introduction and pre-assessment

Introduction and trust building

Module 2: Self-esteem and friendship 

Expressing identity and self-esteem

Making and keeping friends

Module 3: Communication in healthy relationships

Power balance in relationships

Healthy relationships

Module 4: Coping with stress & dealing with emotions

Understanding and managing emotions

Coping with stress

Module 5: Problem solving and decision making 

Decision making

Problem solving

Module 6: Time and money management 

Time management

Financial literacy

Module 7: Reproductive health 

Reproductive health 1

Reproductive health 2

Module 8: Pregnancy care and family planning 

Family planning

Pregnancy care

Module 9: Our safety in GBV contexts 

Types of violence and possible strategies

No to abuse, yes to safer future

Info session: Marriage and birth registration