Eyewitnesses to SOHR | Relative marriage in Syria human crimes, tribal habit destroying family life • The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Eyewitnesses to SOHR | Relative marriage in Syria human crimes, tribal habit destroying family life

“Al-Hayaar” marriage is a definition of marrying a girl to one of her relative, after being reserved since childhood, compulsory and against her will according to habits and customs of some Syrian regions especially that governed by rural or tribal behavior. Such type of marriage bears many negative points and might end with separation and dividing the family because two sides don’t accept each other.

Such kind of relative marriage that prevails in some Arab countries including Syria in the tribal regions like al-Jazeera, al-Hasakah, al-Raqqah and Deir Ezzor alike several towns and villages in the majority of Syrian provinces. Though Al-Hayaar marriage is an inherited habit that passes over generations in these regions, there are wide segments of young males and females who oppose such type of marriage for several reasons including the desire not to live with someone you don’t lobe and the genetic diseases that could be caused by relative marriage in some cases.

It is worth noting that also young males are victims of such old habits, but females suffer more. However, the rate of Al-Hayaar, according to testimonies to SOHR, has declined.

A male known by his initial letters as “S.A”, who is from Jabal Shahshibo region in west Hama countryside said that his area is one of the most important tribal regions in Hama countryside and compromise nearly 22 villages, whose population are all relatives who mostly belonged to Bani Khalid tribe that is known as al-Hayaar over decades.

But numbers of family marriages have decreased due to the social and scientific progress and the modernization of the new generation and opening to different cultures and educations as well as the displacement flows that led to a movement of the people in al-Hayaar to camps in northern Syria at the borders with Turkey.

“S.A.” added Al-Hayaar, which is known domestically as “al-Tagyeer” which means that a girl is booked for one of her relatives especially her cousin. If a man from outside the tribe proposes to marry a girl, the father takes some steps starting first with accepting her cousin if proposed and if not would ask any of the cousins to marry his daughter, if they refuse, the father will ask other third-degree relatives, and would only accept the stranger as a final solution.

He added that conditions changed due to the division and separation of the indigenous tribal people who were scattered in several areas in north Syria, referring also to changing some wrong concepts of the new generations.

Back to twenty years ago, al-Hayaar was an essential habit that left so many males and female victims, he said noting that girls in this region don’t have the right to choose her husband.
In the same region, only four months passed on the marriage of a man known by his initials as “H.M.” with his cousin that ended with divorce. The couples were forced on this marriage as he said, adding his parents chose his wife since they were kids.

He showed his sympathy to his ex-wife who is difficult to marry again based on the habits in the tribe, however, he is more lucky and can marry several times with no problems. Since, 2019, according to the young man, the problems showed their ugly face and after four months, it was impossible for the couples to continue their miserable life, blaming the failed experience to their families who opted to force them to live together.

Expressing his regret, he said his ex-wife is still not married though she is still young while he chose not to marry due to the deteriorating living situation.

He advised all young males and females not to follow such bad habits “Al-Hayaar” marriage no matter the pressure imposed by the parents or they would be turned into victims.

Meanwhile, an old lady known by her initials as “F.A.” from north Hama countryside told SOHR that al-Hayaar is a very old habit adding that 30 years ago any girl could be just named as a future wife for her cousin and has to wait for him, but he might not marry her by the end.

The lady who has experienced many stories of al-Hayaar marriage said a man can even break his engagement and the girl would face horrible destiny after waiting for a long time.

Nobody from the village, tribe, or the neighboring areas would dare to propose to marry the girl who was named for her cousin, according to F.A. who emphasized that habit is highly declined with the new modernized generations.

She added that three of her sons have married with al-Hayaar way and they are still living with their husbands, but today everything has changed and any girl now could face her husband if he assaulted her not like before when no girls could challenge her partner under any conditions that included insult and beat.

On the other hand, a journalist and activist living in north Idlib named al-Hayaar as a crime against both males and females by their families, adding that any partner has the right to choose his other half without intervention.

He added that Islamic law (Shariaa) has rejected that kind of marriage and considers it null and void because compulsory marriage is prohibited, adding that acceptance is part of the marriage contract conditions.

The activist added that such hateful habit is still spreading among the Syrians especially in al-Jazeera region.

He mentioned the negative side of al-Hayaar marriage the rising rates of divorce especially inside the displacement camps due to unfair habits like minor-age girl marriage that increase recently due to increasing poverty in north Syria.

About solutions, a lawyer known by his initials as “M.A” said, “awareness about al-Hayaar that could lead to school layoffs and late marriage could reduce the rate of al-Hayaar.”

He added that organizations concerned with empowering women should take responsibility for raising awareness against that habit until laws regulating marriage are drafted to ensure the content of both partners.

He added al-Hayaar isn’t legal and the marriage contract will be nullified without the approval of both sides, adding that anyone who was forced to marry has the right to ask the judiciary authority to terminate the marriage contract, and keeps the rights of women and her kids.

He added upper hand should be given to laws, not habit, and respecting women’s opinion is a must before her marriage.

It is worth noting that modern medical studies proved that kids of relative parents are subject to diseases like diabetes, Down’s syndrome and cerebral atrophy and other diseases in addition to another negative repercussion of social, family, and phycological problems, so it is better to warn against the marriage of relatives to avoid such diseases.

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