Tue 11 Dec 2018

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The Conscription of Women Provokes Debate in Damascus

Women volunteers in the Syrian Army – 2017 (Russia Today)

Women volunteers in the Syrian Army – 2017 (Russia Today)

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In Damascus, reactions unfolded variously after a news about passing a legislation that mandates the conscription of women in Syria spread; some people accepted the idea, others did not only disapprove it, but have also expressed their protest against it, as it breaks with the rules and traditions which the Syrian society have for a long time committed to.

Even though the legislation was a mere rumor posted by news networks on their social media platforms and not a single official statement has addressed it so far, it seems to have stuck to the minds of a large segment of people in Damascus, who cannot stop discussing its idea.

 

What Does the Street Say?

Enab Balddi monitored people’s opinions, Hanan, a student of Damascus University, the Faculty of Commerce and Economies, said that the legislation would deepen the social rift and will inflate the already high spinsterhood rates, pointing out that despite its being a rumor, she entirely refuses to discuss it.

The spinsterhood rates have reached the mark of 70% in Syria, according to a statement by the First Sharia Judge Mohammad al-Ma’arawi in 2017, as quoted by the government “Tishreen” newspaper.

The percentage stands for one of the highest spinsterhood rates in the Arab world.

“Let us assume that the decision is true; young women will be conscripted between the age of 18 and 24 years, this will inflate their lives, that are already deteriorating,” Hanan added.

“The young women will also follow younger men to the countries of asylum […]. Only elderly, patients and war-afflicted people will remain in Syria,” Widad, 23 years old, commented when interviewed by Enab Baladi.

According to UN figures, young people constituted 30% of the Syrian population prior to war.

However, six million refugees left Syria since 2011, as stated by UN, most of whom are young people. In Turkey alone, the number of the people whom age varies between 19 and 24 years is 544 thousand.

In Damascus, pro-regime social media accounts are discussing the type of the “conscription of women” legislation, the nature of the service and how it would be applied; others, however, are joking about the “Stupid decisions” that are only rumors today and might suddenly turn into a reality.

Imad, a young man who works as a programmer, said “just imagine me and my wife serving under the same brigade..we will go crazy,” wondering “who would accept the idea of a young woman living out of her family house for a year, a year and a half or two years?”

Legislation/Rumor

Talks have gone viral on social media platforms that the Syrian Ministry of Defense and the People’s Council are studying passing a legislation that provides for the conscription of women, under conditions that fit women’s nature and for half the period of the men’s military service, two years and a half (while reserve forces have been serving for eight years).

Women will be recruited to serve at military hospitals, the Joint Staff, the military and administrative departments, in addition to security and police divisions, according to what social media accounts have been publishing, which added that the legislation will be presented before the People’s Council for vote when the its details are clarified and is fully discussed with the Ministry of Defence and the Joint Staff.

People were outraged the most by the legislation’s term that prevent young women from marriage before the end of the mandatory service, similar to the rule forced on men recruits.

However, inspecting the reports of Ministry of Defence and official media outlets which cover the sessions conducted by the People’s Council, Enab Baladi did not find a single official source for the news that addressed the legislation.

Nonetheless, rumors in Syria are always open to question, being one of the government’s tool which usually pave the way for its decision, utilizing these news and rumors to feel the people’s pulse before putting the legislation officially into force.

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