RAQQA, Syria (Kurdistan24) – Islamic State (IS) has destroyed cities, ruined lives, killed and kidnapped civilians but they have not been able to stop people from falling in love, the feeling that can keep hearts warm in face of displacement and chaos.
Kurdistan24 documentary shares the story of Husein (18) and Bara’a (13), the youngest couple from Raqqa whose face-wide smiles reveal the difficulties of life in a camp is trivial against what they have found in each other.
The newly-wed couple had to flee their home and shelter in a camp when the war in Raqqa started. They relocated to Ain Issa camp in the northern countryside of Raqqa province.
Husein, the husband, explained that had it not been for the IS invasion, they would not get married so young. Many norms changed under IS rule, he said.
“Baraa's parents had a small shop in Raqqa …,” he said. It was in the store that he first laid eyes on his future bride. After that day, he would go back to the store as often as he could, pretending to shop.
Fearing for the safety of their daughter in a war-torn country, many families think marriage could provide a safety valve and allow underage marriage.
Bara'a who is now pregnant says she is worried about her parents who are still in Raqqa.
All she wishes is to be with her mother when her baby arrives.
“I have been far from my family for a month … they are in a bad situation, but I am happy because I am with the man I love,” she said bashfully.
Bara'a is among the lucky few who have entered married life with enthusiasm. Many do it out of desperation.
Child marriage is a growing problem for Syrian girls in refugee communities in Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, and Turkey.
In Jordan, for instance, figures show an increase over time.
UNICEF stated in a study that in 2011, 12% of registered marriages involved a girl under the age of 18. This figure rose to 18% in 2012, 25% in 2013 and 32% in early 2014.
A 2016 UN survey in Lebanon camp for Syrians shows among women aged 20 to 24, nearly 35 per cent were married before reaching 18 years old. Another way to look at the figures – as a percentage of married women – shows that 47 per cent of married women, ages 20 to 24 years old, were child brides.
Editing by Ava Homa
(Additional reporting by Lava Assad, a Kurdistan24 correspondent in Rojava)