The rate of early marriage increased in various Syrian regions, especially after the war. Many marriages took place but were not documented due to the suspension of the government departments’ work in several regions of Syria.
Mrs. Siham (pseudonym) is a girl from the Deir Ezzor countryside and one of those who married at an early age. She tells her story to Justice for Life.
Siham’s story began when, like her relatives and friends, she was surprised by the news of her engagement to her cousin, who was not yet twenty years old.
“When I heard about my parents’ decision to marry me to my cousin, I spoke to my father to express my rejection of the marriage. However, my father’s answer was that my cousin is my fate (considering that the decision to marry me to my cousin is almost inevitable and forced), and that every girl is destined to marriage to be in her husband’s house. Besides that, all women, including the women of the family, have been married at this age.”
Siham was unable to defend her opinion and desire not to get married out of fear of her father and brothers, with whom she had a superficial relationship. They considered her as a woman with no opinion and believed that she must fulfill the wishes of the father and the brother without objections.
Siham says: “After two weeks of our marriage, my husband began to mistreat me. He was very violent and angry. I did not know that this was his nature. He had a narrow temperament, and his mood would change over the slightest things. Every problem, no matter how small, ended with a brutal beating that left its mark on my body, exhausted and tired from the abuse.”
Siham describes her husband’s period by saying: “The period of my marriage was one of the worst times of my life because I became a lost person without energy to bear this trouble at this age. I grew up too fast and lived with worries in the most beautiful years of my life. I was in a situation where my husband used to hit me severely for the slightest reasons, and I didn’t have the courage to tell my family about this situation I was living in, for fear of family problems and what people might say about me.”
Mrs. Siham continues to describe the story of her early marriage: “When I began my pregnancy, it wasn’t easy. It was a difficult experience, and I had little knowledge. My body was changing, and I had this strange feeling inside me. Every time I touched my belly, I felt the feeling of motherhood, and I felt tenderness and security. This feeling changed my mood for the better and encouraged me to endure my husband’s cruelty. I comforted myself with the idea that having children would improve my husband’s treatment of me to some extent. However, nothing changed, and things only got worse. I have now two children, and I’m 18 years old, and I’m still subjected to beatings, humiliation, and verbal abuse.”
According to Siham, she can no longer bear more injustice with the continued excessive violence of her husband: “I had to make a fateful decision. I left the house not knowing where to go, but I could no longer stay at home and had to leave. My family’s house was far from my husband’s house, so I had to spend the night in the gardens. Despite that, I wasn’t afraid of anything and wasn’t scared of that night I spent alone. I no longer felt anything and all the feelings inside me died. I waited until morning and walked on foot to my family’s house, which took me an hour and a half.”
Mrs. Siham concluded her story saying: “The condition for the success of marriage is the awareness of both parties of their responsibility and their ability to solve their differences and respect each other’s dignity. This was not achieved in my marriage because I did not originally understand the meaning of marriage and responsibility, and my husband was also a teenager and ignorant of his wife’s rights. Nothing may change in his behavior if he were older, but certainly if I were older when I was subjected to beating and humiliation, I would not have allowed it, and I would not have decided to have children and start a family.”