Not only for economic reasons, Syrian youth do not want to get married
Enab Baladi – Hussam al-Mahmoud
Talks have escalated over the past few weeks about the high rates of reluctance to marry in Syria. On 7 September, the Russian news agency, Sputnik, quoted a statistic it said it had obtained from private sources in the Syrian regime’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, that more than three million single girls are over the age of 30.
These numbers, which the ministry did not publish, are in line with what was stated on the local radio station Melody FM by lawyer Sameh Makhlouf, who confirmed Syria’s third Arab position with the “spinsterhood” rate, explaining that the percentage has reached 65% since 2019.
The situation is accompanied by a wave of circumstances that present their effects on the economy and society, which means the citizen’s livelihood and spending ability, and the general mood, in addition to the social structure in Syria.
Enab Baladi contacted a group of Syrians in and outside regime-held areas, who unanimously agreed on the role of the economic factor in avoiding marriage, but this is not the only reason, according to their views.
Ammar, who obtained his university degree ten years ago but works as a taxi driver because there is no work, says that travel is a priority for young people who wish to leave the country without emotional ties or responsibilities due to the security and economic conditions.
In addition, some young women began placing the condition of travel on the “future husband” before agreeing to get married in order to leave and migrate, which has become a dream, even if it is postponed for some only because it is not an available choice.
At the age of 40, Ammar (unmarried) focuses on the fact that the issue does not end with just marriage as much as it opens the door to broader responsibilities in a country where it is difficult to have a child and provide for his needs, education, and care of all kinds.
“The priority today is to make a living and nothing else,” as he put it.
Damascus-based Reem considered that the problem is not only in the economic capabilities of young men. Women have also greatly raised the ceiling of their ambitions at the level of demands and conditions that burden young men, with the presence of some girls who “accept whoever asks them for marriage to escape spinsterhood.”
Reem drew attention to the effects or variables left by an issue of this kind, which is the transformation of society into an unbalanced one, and the difference in moral standards from what it was, pointing to the increase in relations outside the marital institution.
“There are men who spend on girls outside marriage, in cases that are closer to cohabitation.” This viewpoint is relatively consistent with Ammar but with somewhat different interpretations.
Ammar believes that this type of relationship is originally desirable for the younger generations, but what has clearly appeared is the state of liberation from responsibility and self-expression in recent years.
“The cases that follow the wars bring with them some rituals of liberation, which of course will not be satisfactory for all segments of society, as they in one way or another carry in their essence rebellion against an authority, which may be the authority of the family or the authority of society,” Ammar adds.
Material condition is compelling
At least 96 migrants, mostly Syrian and Lebanese, died after the boat they were traveling in sank off Syria’s coast on 22 September.
The mass death was a translation of the state of despair experienced by the Syrians, which prompted them to search for a new life, stability, and the resumption of life from where its manifestations stopped.
This situation was created by the overall deteriorating economic conditions in the regime-controlled areas, which reached a stage that called for international warnings of the dire situation there, given that 90% of Syrians are below the poverty line, 60% of whom suffer from “food insecurity,” according to a 19-page report submitted by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, to the Security Council last January.
A report issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) on 6 June called for urgent humanitarian measures to be taken in 20 “hunger hotspots,” including Syria.
Several circumstances were discouraging factors and disturbing any ambition for stability and the establishment of a family in Syria, the most important of which are the lack of rewarding job opportunities and the low level of wages, many of which do not exceed 30 US dollars per month, the depreciation of the Syrian pound against the dollar, which reached 4,850 SYP, and the scarcity of electricity, shortage of services, lack of fuel and transportation crises.
Given the situation of Syrians outside their country, the issue of delaying marriage, in general, has economic dimensions as well due to moral obligations, which in turn impose on the refugee other obligations, some of which are financial.
Iyad, a 35-year-old Syrian refugee based in Turkey, told Enab Baladi that the delay in marriage is not related to age only, as some women view young men as their “dream knights,” which generates a reaction that turns young men away from the idea.
Iyad pointed out that the requirements of young women for marriage are high, which burdens the “future groom” with many financial obligations, in addition to others that already exist, such as the requirements of living abroad, providing for the family, and helping it financially inside Syria, with a salary that barely reaches the minimum wage in Turkey, which is 5,500 liras, while the value of the dollar is about 19 TL.
“I am trying to reconcile my life with my needs and the dignity of my family residing in Syria. I cannot turn a blind eye to their needs and what they lack. They are the priority.”
Society is no longer young
Social researcher Talal Mustafa does not like the use of the term “spinsterhood” as it is scientifically and idiomatically inaccurate, and it is preferable to use alternative concepts, such as unmarried and single women and the delay in the age of marriage, since “spinsterhood” as a term bears moral violence that suggests that the woman is undesirable for marriage, at a time when she may be reluctant to marry of her own free will for any reason or conviction.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, Mustafa confirmed that the term carries a kind of stigma, as it is not used in the same way to refer to a man who is reluctant to marry.
The law permits marriage at the age of 18, but there is nothing wrong with adding more years until emotional, psychological, mental, and emotional maturity is achieved, and this is within the general standard, which is not being applied in local Syrian communities, some of which see that a girl exceeding the age of 20 turns into a “spinster.” While other societies believe that women up to the age of 35 are not late in marriage, according to the researcher.
He explained that the matter may be dependent on the reproductive age of women, and therefore “spinsterhood” is a value concept linked to customs and traditions and has turned into a stigma that cannot be accepted socially.
The age of marriage, in general, differed, not only inside and outside Syria, as the state of war creates an imbalance in the numbers of males and females, as it is a gateway to male attrition on the one hand, in addition to their exhaustion through migration and asylum.
There is also an escalation in immigration cases after the war, which is what is currently happening in Syria for economic purposes, and most of those who remain are middle-aged and elderly after the Syrian society was a young one, which threatens, after ten years, that the Syrian society will turn into an aging society unless it returns a proportion of refugees.
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