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Add Your Daughter to a Marriage Ban List in Syria?

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Wednesday 14 March 201808:24 pm
Kathrin from Jabal al-Arab, which the Druze community in southern Syria inhabits, fled to Homs to marry a non Druze. The 18-year-old girl did not realise the extent of her step, her elopement prompted violence in her hometown, the city of Suwayda, over the course of two months. Kathrin's family accused locals of kidnapping her, killing three of them and abducting others including a leader of the regime-loyal Popular Committees. The girl sought to clear up the misunderstanding by appearing in an online video saying she had left willingly, and that she got married in Homs. However, the video only added fuel to fire, her family assumed she recorded the video against her will. A following video of her wedding also did little to convince her family that she was not held captive, but local elders eventually defused the situation.

War and Marriage

Kathrin's case is one of many in Syria, where a nearly seven-year-old war took a toll on the social fabric and saw an increase in marriage without parental consent. With the practically impossible marriages between Syria's multiple Muslim sects, youngsters sometimes flee to tie the knot. They opt for an unofficial marriage contract known as urfi, which is signed without the presence of the bride's father -- a compulsory measure in official marriages. According to a local source, courts have recently received numerous requests submitted by girls to legitimize unofficial marriages. However, the source said that many such legal requests are turned down because investigations would prove there was no reason for the bride's fathers not to attend the marriage procedures. Judge Mahmoud Al-Maarawi, who heads a religious court that oversees personal status issues for Syrian Muslims, said that 37,000 unofficial marriages were upheld last year in Damascus. To ensure that they will not get married behind their backs, families have increasingly put their daughters' names on the "marriage ban list".

What Is the Marriage Ban List?

Samir, a man in his 40s who lives north of Damascus countryside, said he has added his 16-year-old daughter's name to the court-supervised marriage ban list, a measure that makes the girl unable to legitimize an urfi contract. Speaking to Raseef22, Samir said the younger generation is characterized with impulsiveness, with many youngsters dealing with marriage as though it is a game. He put his daughter's name on the marriage ban list as a precaution, he said, stressing that he trusts she would never flee to get married. If the father was not around, a grandfather or an uncle would be entitled to take such a legal action, which was barely known before it grew popular over the past few months. Indeed, Salma, a widow and a mother of a 17-year-old girl, asked her father-in-law to add her daughter's name to the list in order to protect the family's reputation. However, lawyer Mounir Mahmoud told Raseef22 the marriage ban list only applies on minors; it would take reported teenagers only a few years to ratify marriages without their families' approval.

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