Dr Aisha Hutchinson
I am a Lecturer in the Social Sciences in the School. My research interests include the nature, role and functioning of international social work and social development with a particular focus on international child protection and gender-based violence. I have also been involved in several pieces of research aiming to improve the lives of adolescent girls in contexts of humanitarian aid and social development.In 2016, I joined with Terre Des Hommes - Lausanne (a Swiss INGO specialising in humanitarian aid with children) to carry out an extensive piece of in-depth qualitative research on child marriage amongst Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
Other previous research strongly indicates that more girls under 18 are affected by child marriage across Syrian refugee communities in Jordan and Lebanon, than they had been back in Syria prior to the conflict. The marriage of children under 18, while sometimes considered as culturally acceptable, is commonly considered as a harmful practice by a wide range of actors across Jordan and Lebanon. In 2015, the elimination of traditional harmful practices such as child marriage was included in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and it has since received considerable attention by international, national, and local actors across the globe.
The research draws on semi-structured narrative interviews with Syrian refugee families in Jordan and Lebanon. This rich data examined the nature of child marriage, the social process of marriage, the impact of displacement, reasons for marriage, consequences of marriage, attitudes towards child marriage, help seeking behaviour and advice to other girls and their families.
We must recognise that child marriage occurs within broader processes of marriage and that for refugees, these processes have all been adapted by displacement. Responses to child marriage often either take poverty and vulnerability as the main cause of child marriage, or cultural norms, and activities are tailored in response to this. However, it must be recognised that poverty, concerns about protection and social norms all influence decisions, along with other contextual factors, and interventions must recognise and respond to the interaction of all of these rather than focus on one at a time. Gender transformative approaches to crisis, poverty and vulnerability, embedded in cultural practice and an acknowledgement of what life is like for refugees in Jordan and Lebanon are essential.
All final reports on research with faith-based actors and child marriage, qualitative interviews with married girls and their families, focus groups with Syrian refugees and policy mapping in Jordan and Lebanon have been finalised and published by Terre Des Hommes. The final reports can be accessed on the Terre Des Hommes website.