Who Is Your Husband? A Campaign about the Risks of Syrian Women Marriage to Immigrants
The increase in the ratios of Syrian women marriage to immigrants, especially in areas controlled by “Islamic groups” and the inflating side effects of the phenomenon’s spread triggered journalists and human rights activists to launch a campaign under the name, “Who Is Your Husband?” to shed the light on the phenomenon and raise awareness about its risks.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, the Campaign’s Coordinator Assim Zidan explained that the campaign targets the communities in which the phenomenon of Syrian women marriage to immigrants has spread, especially in northern Syria that is controlled by “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham.”
The campaign’s activities are directed to women in these communities, in particular, along with parents and local decision makers, such as men of religion and legal practitioners, who are responsible for issuing these marriages’ contracts that are deemed as illegal and religiously indiscriminate.
While there are not any statistics about Syrian men marriages to immigrant women under Islamic factions, statistics, according to Zaidan, indicate that about 1750 cases, Syrian women marriage to immigrants, have been registered, 1124 of which have children, 1826 male and female children.
He stressed the fact that the negative effects resulting from Syrian men marriage to immigrant women are way less than the disastrous effects of Syrian women marriage to immigrant men.
Syrian women marriage to immigrants is turning into a “scourge” with adverse consequences, on top of which is children that are both stateless and illegitimate, for they are not included in the Civil Registry.
Children are the typical victims of these marriages; Zaidan points out that risks involve children’s future and identity since they are legally denied their Syrian civil rights, the most important of which is education, in addition to children’s attachment to the unhealthy cultural heritage of their fathers.
There is also the dilemma of the married women themselves which has an impact on their filial, psychological and health conditions that resulted from the missing stability that usually features normal marriages due to cultural differences, the husband’s intentions of such a marriage and his view of the woman as a commodity.
Some of these immigrants abandoned their wives either by going back to their countries, moving with their factions to other areas without taking their Syrian wives with them or being killed.
The Syrian woman is, thus, left alone with her children stuck in life without a bread winner and various challenges to face, at the level of her family, society, and sometimes her children.
Part of the dilemma lies in the fact that the wife, her family and even the man of religion who issued the marriage contract actually do not know the real name and surname of the immigrant, which they usually hide for security and preventative reasons. The documents which these immigrants have are considered unreliable because they are mostly fake and used to move between countries, the reason why men of religion and lawyers have agreed that the marriage contract is illegal because the knowledge of the name and surname of the husband is a primary condition to issue a legal contract.
Activities in the Opposition-Held Areas
As for the campaigns activities, Zaidan said that a series of women dialogue sessions will be held in the southern countryside of Idlib and the western countryside of Aleppo and that posters will be hanged on the walls of public places in Idlib governorate and its countryside, in addition to various activities to be presented on the different social media platforms.
In the past a few years, the Syrian society witnessed another phenomenon – the marriage of Syrian women to foreign fighters who came to Syria, since 2013, to join different Islamic groups.
Besides poverty and homelessness, the Syrian woman, in the past a few years, had to pay an expensive price for decisions she did not make; she was also forced to become a victim of the war’s details, even the “holy mission” of the foreign fighters who came to fight for a number of the military factions in Syria.
A large proportion of these fighters in Syria searched for wives who might alleviate the “difficulties of jihad” and the “loneliness of migration.”
A Fatwa Prohibits Marriage to Anonymous People
Despite the fact that the areas under the “Islamic State” (IS) witnessed most of these marriages, the opposition-held areas also had their share, for many foreign fighters there married Syrian women and girls.
Last November, the Syrian Fatwa Council of the Syrian Islamic Council issued a fatwa on the marriage of Syrian women to “anonymous” foreign fighters.
According to the fatwa, it is not permissible for a guardian to give a woman in marriage to a man who hides his name and pedigree, because of the marriage’s social and religious harmful and corruptive consequences, and its violation of the Sharia purposes that aim to preserve the society’s stability, according to the statement.
According to the Syrian Fatwa Council, marrying ” anonymous men” does not invalidate marriage legally and children are considered “legitimate,” but such a marriage would cost the woman many of her rights, such as her right to know her husband and his family and her right to inheritance; it also keeps the woman in a state of suspension incase her “anonymous” husband run way.
The Council also added that the corrupt effects of this marriage, include a child’s loss of his or her rights to know their pedigree and the difficulty to attain identity documents and the nationality of the father’s country; accordingly, the duty is to “ward off evil.”
In a former interview with Enab Baladi, Sheikh Mohammed al-Khatib, Chairman of the Shariah Committee of the Levant Front, said that the reasons why some people are accepting to give their daughters in marriage to foreign fighters relate to their ignorance, when they follow the Hadith saying: “If he comes that who you approve his religion and morals, give your daughter in marriage to him,” without checking on the man’s identity and origin.
Al-Khatib added that marriage contracts to “anonymous men” are religiously incorrect, because Sharia imposes that the man and women who are getting married must be known, which makes the validity of the contract doubtable.