ZAATARI REFUGEE CAMP, Jordan — Omaima Hoshan, 14, wasn’t really aware of early marriage until her best friend dropped out of school in the fifth grade. Omaima was very concerned. Her friend was an excellent student — the best in their class — and had always dreamed about becoming a doctor, so why would she leave school? Omaima learned from the teacher that her friend had married her 18-year-old cousin under pressure from her father. The girl hadn’t even turned 13 yet. Omaima never saw her again.
From that day, Omaima noticed more girls leaving school as young as 12, 13 or 14 years old. She remembered thinking it was totally wrong. They were just children, like her. She talked about it with her father, Thaer Hoshan, who had studied law back in Syria.