Early marriage is an old phenomenal in Syria, which a significant number of young girls have been through, and yet are carrying out its burden of responsibilities for the rest of their lives. Figures by local activists and researcher specialist in advocacy campaigning against child-marriage in rebel held areas across north Syria undertook a ground scan in local communities, displayed notable widespread of this phenomenon with an estimation of 65 percent of the marriages since 2011.
Stealing a child’s dream
From playing with stones in front of my house after school to what I get in to see her “fiancé”. This was what Hana was told, Hana was a 13-year old child from Idlib, after her parents decided, on her behalf, that it is time for her to get married before she ends up a spinsterhood.
“My parents took me away from school and forcibly arranged my marriage with a man who was older than me, saying, [women’s spinsterhood brings them shame] therefore, you are going to get married and have a family of my own”.
Hana’s last day at school was the day she got married to her husband. One month following her marriage, she got pregnant with her first baby. Due to her young fatigue physical being, Hana underwent a turbulent delivery and health circumstance that could have ended her life. However, her grief did not end there, her husband got killed in a car accident and became a widow with a baby, and she is only 16 years old.
Child marriage is a violation of child rights, and has a negative impact on physical growth, health, mental and emotional development and education opportunities. It also affects societies as a while, since child marriage reinforces a cycle of poverty and perpetuates gender discrimination, illiteracy and malnutrition as well as high infant and maternal mortality rates. (UNICEF).
Child marriage has always posed as a problem in Syria, though it got worse since 2011 given that quality and quantity of the educational system steeply decreased affecting children the highest portion of the Syrian population. Namely, young girls who found themselves at home, exposed by their parents to a solo option to which is getting them married as soon as possible.
14% of the marriages in Syria were under- lined in the early marriage’s categoryUN report in 2015
According to the UN report concerning marriages in Syria in general, in 2015, that 14% of them were under- lined in the early marriage’s category, in comparison to half of that proportion in 2011. On the other hand, in camps communities, the percentage of these marriages spiked in both Lebanon and Jordan scoring 32% and 34% respectively.
While children and in particular girls below 18 still needs more care, education, and attention from their families. They find themselves, due to a lot of families over- whelming circumstances, like Hana, married, widow and back to her family’s house with three years old baby to look after and grapple with him life struggle for the rest of their lives.
Civil society dilemma
This problem surfaced a new social phenomenal problem called, according to local activists in north Syria, the rise of ‘baby-mothers generation.’
According to Fareda Ahmad, 25-years old a social-activist and physiological instructor, that the root cause of young girls’ marriage is due to widespread ignorance and poverty among societies of northern-Syria. This phenomenon has been consequently complicating without any engagement by civil society organizations, media, local authorities…etc.
Civil society organizations have been striving to address child-marriage widespread across Syria working within their rather humble capacity. However, the enormous numbers of the population in north Syria requires the ability of global NGOs or even states to entirely eliminate this problem and make the ideal inclusive social change to which civil society organizations are striving to create. Therefore, this problem yet needs intensified efforts from stakeholders.
“Civil society has been relatively addressing and raising awareness about the drawbacks of this behavior and engage more people on the ground in the most under- privileged towns and villages where early marriage is deemed a sacred tradition.”
However, Ahmad underscores that civil society ought to harness their efforts and bound together to uphold and construct solidly protected norms of girl-rights. This can be done through qualifying local teams and focused advocacy groups to undertake large-scale campaigns across northern Syria.
“A clarity and divisive plans are what is indeed a must to eradicate child-marriage tradition,” she said, adding that “to have a healthy educated society, productive and capable of rebuild Syria, child-marriage is cornerstone towards achieving this target; otherwise, the foreseeable outcome will not be to the favor of Syrian.”