Al-Hasakah: Young women look for “expatriate husbands” amid economic hardships 

A market in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria - April 2023 (Enab Baladi)

A market in the city of Qamishli, northeastern Syria - April 2023 (Enab Baladi)

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Al-Hasakah – Majd al-Salem

The 24-year-old Hanadi al-Hassoun finds many reasons that lead her to prefer marrying a young man residing outside Syria in one of the neighboring or European countries after more than ten years of conflict in Syria and after the country’s situation has deteriorated and the future of his children is unknown.

Al-Hassoun is like many girls in the northeastern al-Hasakah governorate, who, over the past few years, have expressed their preference for marrying young men residing outside Syria, especially Europe, where the financial income is the best among the countries of asylum.

She told Enab Baladi that she is one of the many girls who “have lost hope of finding a suitable life partner within their local communities due to the deteriorating economic conditions and the ongoing war in Syria.”

As a result, she turned her sights “to Europe, where the potential is for a brighter future.”

Al-Hassoun dreams of marrying a Syrian residing in Germany or Sweden, as she believes that she will have a better chance of living a “comfortable life” and securing a stable future for herself and her children, as she put it.

Enab Baladi has monitored that many girls have opinions that their marriage will be a way out of the difficult economic conditions in Syria and an opportunity to start a new life in a more stable environment.

This comes despite the fear of some parents of the difficulties their daughters may face with regard to the different cultures and customs that appear among the sons of the Syrian governorates and the barriers of language and residence in the new country.

Walaa, 21, loves working in the field of media, despite her studies in archaeology at Al-Furat University.

She sees marriage to a young man she loves who resides in Germany as an opportunity to fulfill her desire to practice media work when she marries him and to “move to live there away from the objection of her family, as they see the media as a profession that brings trouble in Syria, especially for females.”

Walaa communicates with her fiancé daily through messaging apps, where she plans with him for the “new life” that awaits her in Germany.

The young woman said that “many young men” from her city proposed to her, but she rejected the idea of marrying one of them “because they have no future, for some of them are wanted for military service, whether for the Syrian regime or the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and some of them work but their monthly income is not enough to cover the costs of married life.”

According to the Salary Explorer website, which specializes in salary scale figures and wages around the world, the average monthly salary in Syria during the current year was about 149,000 Syrian pounds.

The SDF-led Autonomous Administration raised the monthly wages of workers in its institutions to a minimum of 520,000 Syrian pounds starting last March.

Complicated process

It is not an ordinary or routine matter to marry a young man residing outside Syria who had gone to Europe years earlier on a perilous asylum journey that took months.

Al-Hasakah-based Lawyer Abdulrahim Suleiman says that marriage procedures when the husband is an expatriate require passing legal and “complex bureaucratic” procedures, such as reunification papers and obtaining visas.

In addition, cultural differences and the challenge of adapting to a new society can be major obstacles for the newlyweds, which leads to the failure of the marriage after a period of time, and there are many cases that Suleiman encountered during his work ended in divorce, Suleiman told Enab Baladi.

When there is a previous acquaintance between the young man and the girl and their families, or when the girl is related to the young man, the relationship is better, according to the lawyer.

After Reem al-Hussein, 19, arrived in Turkey, where she met her fiancé, with whom she was scheduled to continue her way to a European country, and after a year of failed attempts and disagreements with her fiancé about how and the mechanism of “smuggling” her to Europe, and the objection of the parents, fearing for their daughter’s life, she had to return to Syria.

According to al-Hussein, this experience cost her and her family a lot of fatigue, psychological exhaustion, fear, and anticipation, in addition to the material losses and the disputes that arose between the two families.

Syria ranks penultimate as the worst country to live for women out of a total of 170 countries after Afghanistan, according to the Georgetown Institute classification.

According to statistics from the regime’s social affairs ministry, the percentage of spinsterhood in Syria reached 70%, the Russian agency Sputnik reported in September 2022.

Last February 5, Enab Baladi shed light through the stories of young Syrian women and men and the opinions of experts and specialists on the motives of both parties to choose marriage through the Internet and young women’s travel and to study the impact of the experience on them socially and psychologically.

The report mentioned cases of exploitation that both parties were exposed to and the position of the law on that, in addition to presenting recommendations that could limit the negative impact of failed experiences.

 

 

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