In 2013, a law was passed in Israel making it illegal for minors under the age of 18 to marry. However, according to the statistics, there is hardly any reason to enforce this law, since in recent years there has been a slight rise in the average age at which people get married in Israel. Between 2002 and 2016, the average age at which people in Israel married for the first time rose from 27.1 to 27.5 for the grooms, and from 24.2 to 25.1 for the brides. And when we examine the statistics according to religion, we find that the numbers are reliably stable with respect to the ages, as the average age at which women marry has risen in the period referred to.

And yet, in Jerusalem it is apparent that there is a phenomenon of young women in general, and young Arab women in particular, marrying at a young age. The family situation of Jerusalemites aged 15 to 19, reveals that in 2016, close to 97% of the members of this age group were single (as opposed to 99% in Tel Aviv and Haifa). This is a very high percentage, and yet it still reveals that a small segment of the younger population did get married. When we break down this data according to gender and population group, we find that among youth in Jerusalem aged 15 to 19 who get married, Arab women complete 64%. According to statistics for the entire country, the 15 to 19-year-old married Arab women in Jerusalem comprise about 21% of the total population of married 15 to 19-year-olds in Israel.

Among the Jewish population the number of married women in the 15 to 19-year-old age group is double that of the men. At less than one percent, the percentage of married Arab men in this age group in Jerusalem is the lowest of all. In other words, most of the younger married Arab women are apparently hitched to older men. Still, as we see in the graph below, the number of Arab women in Jerusalem who are marrying at a young age is decreasing, with the total number down from 2,060 in 2011 to 1,780 in 2016 – a decline of 14%.

English translation Gilah Kahn-Hoffmann