Child marriage is one of the most significant crises that Syria has suffered. This is accompanied by complete chaos, a lack of men, poverty and social upheavals which various forces and religious groups and social trends have imposed.
There are no precise statistics about the rate of child marriages, but the general scene confirms that the problem has started to endanger Syrian society in the absence of the state and the rule of law.
Sweets caused the destruction of Seham’s martial home. Seham, from Idleb, was just 14 when she was married off to a 16 year-old boy. Seham asked her husband for some sweets, which she gave to her mother-in-law. Her mother-in-law beat her, claiming that she was wasting her husband’s money and ordered her son to divorce her. The child obeyed his mother, ending the marriage three months after it started.
“L.S.,” from a village in the Aleppo countryside says: “I was married at 15 years old, and now I’m 18 and I have two children. I was forced to marry early because of my parents’ bad financial situation. My husband is ten years older than me and at the beginning of the marriage and until now I’ve faced a lot of challenges because of the age difference between us. He wasn’t able to stand my childish mind, but I couldn’t just skip adolescence and arrive at maturity. We face a lot of responsibility and burdens when raising the children and bearing the burdens of the house. I’m also unable to supplement my education because of the children.”
Ola, a friend of “M.S.,” says that her friend was 15 years old when she married a man who was 30 and when she gave birth to a girl in the first year of the marriage, he went crazy and beat her, demanding that she give birth to a boy.
During the second pregnancy, she gave birth to another girl, and she was beaten so hard that the doctor said she shouldn’t get pregnant for at least another two years. The husband wasn’t convinced and paid no heed to the doctor’s words and continued to insist that she get pregnant and give birth to a third child, and then divorced her because she hadn’t given him a son.
Ola continued, “My friend went back to her family’s home with three daughters. Her parents have no money, and so the family started to complain about their daughter and her daughters, especially given that the father of the children wouldn’t acknowledge them and there’s no law in the country to make him. In the end the mother fled with her children and no one knows where they went.”
“A.B.”, a mother of a minor in the western Idleb countryside says, “I married when I was young and I was happy in my marriage. When my daughter turned 16, she married and I did not realize that times had changed. I think about my mistake every day and call on God to forgive my sin, and if I could turn back time, I wouldn’t have agreed to this marriage.”
Religious scholars vary in analysis and prohibitions on minors marrying. There are those who say the responsibility is that of the guardian, and others who prohibit early marriages totally, with the two groups relying on texts of the Hadith to support their words since there is no clear Quranic text to settle this controversy.
The burdens of child marriages do not stop when they reach adulthood, but lead to social and psychological problems such as violence, physical health and the denial of rights.
Psychology professor Dr. Ahmed al-Hussein warns about the negative psychological and social effects that follow a child being forced to marry. He tells Sada al-Sham that what happens is not a marriage but a total sexual assault against the child, and says that this puts the child in a state of shock and creates feelings of fear and panic. Children who are married feel depressed and this could lead to suicide. A girl who is subjected to this feels isolated after being separated from her home and the course of her normal life, and all of this generates negative psychological energy and a desire to flee the house and in many cases the child resorts to bodily harm of the husband and sometimes even killing as a form of healing.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.