Omaima Hoshan is only 15-years-old and working to end the child marriage issue that is so prevalent among her friends and community at the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan…
She read Malala’s book which was given to her by her mother, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban.”
She tried giving advice to her friends about the difficulties and negative effects of marrying before the legal age of 18. But Omaima became frustrated seeing that her warnings did not stop even one of her friends or their parents. So she then decided to educate her entire community about the issue.
In Jordan, the legal marriage age for girls and women is 18, but with parental consent and the go-ahead from community religious leaders, girls can marry as young as 15. In some cases, religious judges (of Sharia law) can condone marriage for girls at 14-years-old. In Syria, where the bulk of the refugees in the Za’atari camp come from, 13 percent of girls were married before the age of 18 in 2011.
Omaima said, “Girls from my home have their future lost or destroyed. This is something I cannot accept.”
So she sought the assistance of aid workers and educators and Omaima began to conduct lectures on the dangers of child marriage. But her classes are not the boring sort. She teaches using drawing, artwork, singing, and acting about topics like pregnancy risk at a young age and how marrying early will keep girls from good opportunities
She has the full support of her father. “My dad tells me that I started something good and I should continue what I am doing. I want to go to university and become a lawyer so that I can defend the rights of women and girls.”
Now she is having more success. She has helped stop several child marriages in the refugee camp.
One of her friends became engaged at 15, but Omaima convinced her friend she would be better off talking to her parents and asking them to let her continue her education and stay in school.
“Now she is back in school with us,” said Omaima.
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