Sold for marriage: a hidden cost of the Syrian conflict

The war in Syria has many costs. One of those unspoken is the impact on women who marry in the hope of helping the survival of their family. A BBC report tells the story:  Before the war began, Kazal was in love with her neighbour in Homs. “He was 20 years old and I dreamed of marrying him one day,” she says. “I never thought I would marry someone I didn’t love, but my family and I have been through some hard times since coming to Amman.”

Kazal says she is 18 but looks much younger. She has just got divorced from a 50-year-old man from Saudi Arabia who paid her family about US $3,100 (UK £2,000) to marry her. The marriage lasted one week.

“I lived with my husband in Amman, but we weren’t happily married. He treated me like a servant, and didn’t respect me as a wife. He was very strict with me. I’m happy that we’re divorced.”

Her huge, blue eyes fill with tears when she talks about the marriage. “I agreed to it so I could help my family. When I got engaged I cried a lot. I won’t get married for money again. In the future I hope to marry a Syrian boy who’s my own age.”

It may be called survival marriage, but preying on the vulnerable and using women as pawns in the game of survival has no justification. Short term marriages are not uncommon, and in some parts of Islam are permitted, but now it has become a matter of survival. As Jordan seeks to cope with the refugee crisis engulfing it, the numbers and needs are overwhelming, and the vulnerable are yet again the victims of a war and national crisis.

Pray into this crisis and especially for those who are weak and vulnerable and being victimised in many different ways because of the desperation of their needs. Think of those stories of Jesus’ interactions with women, feel his heart and pray for these women.

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