Syrian young men in Turkey do not get married

A Syrian refugee working in a textile factory in the Çağlayan district of Istanbul (Turkish Doğan News Agency)

A Syrian refugee working in a textile factory in the Çağlayan district of Istanbul (Turkish Doğan News Agency)


Enab Baladi – Diya Assi

With the gradual loss of economic, political, and social security, especially among Syrian youth in countries of asylum, those seeking to escape from the years-long cycle of integration find no way to reach the settling-down stage, in which marriage is often the most important and difficult step.

The scene of instability and the compelling circumstances of Syrian refugees in Turkey, in particular, weigh heavily on many who spend their lives on the bare minimum, apart from the lack of an enabling environment for growth, either individually or in the family.

The consequences of war and asylum for Syrians are evident in many respects, including the absence of legal support and the absence of a state providing the necessary support to its citizens to meet basic needs.

Perplexing scene

As a refugee in Turkey, Alaa Eddine does not know where and when he will be deported from this country, he told Enab Baladi. For that reason, the young man who is engaged dissociates himself from the idea of marriage because of a lack of clarity about the future and fears that his future partner will be implicated in decisions such as migrating to Europe or returning to Turkey illegally if deported.

Alaa is putting his wedding on hold until after next May’s Turkish presidential election, pending the clarification of the state’s policies towards refugees, as well as the course of Turkish-Syrian rapprochement that may affect the natural continuation of his life.

The young man is also afraid to rent a home and equip it to marry, bearing in mind the prospect of being included in refugee repatriation plans and fearing that his efforts will later be in vain. He described his situation amid political instability as “tragic.”

The economic situation is also not helpful, as a person’s status is not different if they have a university degree or otherwise or if they have a Temporary Protection Card (Kimlik), according to Alaa, who is currently a Ph.D. student. Apart from the difficulty of landing a job with one’s educational qualifications, the person granted the work permit receives the minimum wage (8500 Turkish liras, equivalent to 452 US dollars) or slightly more. Some who work without permits receive lower salaries, making the idea of marriage the last priority; those salaries are not even enough for a single young man in a house shared with his friends, says Alaa.

High dowries overshadow all of the above, the young man added. With the amounts requested, a young man in Turkey turns away from marriage due to the inability to secure the said amounts without mentioning paying for the household necessities of furnishings and others, the prices of which require years of work.

Once a young man is done with the requirements of the girl and her family in Turkey, his journey begins with the requirements of the homeowners who take advantage of the situation of the Syrians worsened by government decisions that restrict their options in several ways, according to what Alaa had experienced. In addition to insurance and commissions, many landlords require at least six months of rent in advance, “which makes matters even worse.”

Obstacles in the way

Apart from the material problems faced by most young Syrians, some people living without their families collide with the problem of choosing a wife. This is due to the lack of an environment and a social relations network at the family level.

When challenged, this group often resorts to seeking help from their families inside Syria to find the right girl. In this case, there are two problems: the first is the possibility of rejecting the invitation request submitted from Turkish territory by holders of the Temporary Protection Card (Kimlik) and tourist residence. The second is the impossibility of bringing wives from the liberated areas in Syria, as entering one of them on a legal invitation requires her to obtain a passport issued by the Syrian regime, which residents of the liberated areas cannot obtain.

More than a year ago, young Omar tried through official means to bring his fiancée from Idlib through border crossings with Turkey. But the requirement to have a passport was the only obstacle to all his attempts, as he told Enab Baladi.

Although Omar obtained Turkish citizenship, he did not find government cooperation or facilitation in this matter. The answer he got was for his fiancée to go to one of the countries where there was a Syrian regime embassy, which is also impossible.

The 20-year-old who came to Idlib after graduating from the university to get engaged returned to Istanbul and got a job at a Turkish bank, and began the journey of saving for marriage, as he put it.

However, Omar took advantage of the fact that his work was online and moved to the city of Trabzon, overlooking the Black Sea in northeastern Turkey, due to the high cost of living in Istanbul and to establish his upcoming married life in a quiet city where living is commensurate with the average wages in Turkey, he said.

What about the rest?

According to the latest statistics for the year 2021 released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) on February 25, 2022, the number of foreign grooms reached 4976 people, while the number of foreign brides reached 23,687.

When analyzing foreign brides according to their nationality, Syrian women ranked first with 14.6%, followed by Azerbaijani women at 10.1% and Uzbek women at 9.8%.

As for foreign grooms, and based on nationality, German grooms ranked first with 25.2%, Syrians came second with 20.7% (about 2000 young men), and Austrians ranked third with 5.5%.

Syrians came first among foreign brides married to Turks since 2015. Turkish-married Syrian grooms, formerly third, are second, with the rate of Syrian grooms in 2021 up four times compared to 2020.

According to The Independent Türkçe newspaper, it is not hard to guess that a large part of the German and Austrian grooms are Turks who live there and are citizens of those countries.

The average age at first marriage for men in Turkey was 28.1 years, and 25.4 years for women in 2021. The Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK) indicated that 33.6% of divorce cases, which exceeded 174,000 cases in 2021, occurred in the first five years of marriage, and 20. 9% of cases occur after six to ten years.

In 2019, the average age at first marriage in the Turkish provinces where Syrians live in large numbers was as follows:

– Kilis – 26 for young men, 23 for young women;

– Hatay – 28 for young men, 24 for young women;

– Gaziantep – 26 for young men, 23 for young women;

– Şanlıurfa – 27.9 for young men, 25 for young women.

This is according to the Turkish Pamukkale University Journal of Social Sciences Institute.

The number of Syrians in Turkey registered under Temporary Protection has reached 3,522 million Syrian refugees, according to the latest statistics issued by the Turkish Presidency of Migration Management on January 12.


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