The Refugee Fathers Who Say No to Child Brides

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Forced MarriagePrevention

An hour and a half drive from Beirut, 20 men sit in a local family center in West Bekaa, Lebanon. All of them are refugees from Syria or Palestine, two places where early marriage is common.

One man starts, “I have 10 daughters under 18, and I will marry every single one of them. Without it, my family wouldn’t survive.” An intense debate erupts, the men shouting over each other until one stands out: “And when you marry off your daughters, do you ask their permission first?”

The practice of forcing girls into marriage is a complicated issue, particularly because most of these fathers believe it is a means to protecting their daughters from poverty or sexual exploitation. For a family that doesn’t have enough money to raise their daughter, marrying her off is their way of coping.

Adnan Ghazi is the man leading today’s discussion. A refugee from Syria, he understands the cultural dynamics of early marriage and as one of the facilitators of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) program, he is trying to convince his peers of its consequences. “Marry your child at 14 years old and she loses her education. You think you’re solving your economic burden, but your children are suffering,” he explains.

Ghazi can speak to this topic because he’s lived it. News Deeply explains:

Ghazi knows firsthand the harm that marrying young can do. After graduating from university and going through a string of girlfriends, he settled down with Adeline*, a woman chosen for him by his mother. He was 27; she was just 14.

The beginning of their marriage was hard; Adeline dropped out of school to care for their children, which widened the already substantial gap in the pair’s perspective and opinions.

Still, changing minds is an uphill battle. “I use my own experience and tell other men, ‘Learn from me, it’s not a good thing,’” says Ghassan Idriss, another peer facilitator. “I try to speak directly to their hearts, but often they tell me to leave them alone. They think I’m intervening in subjects that men should have nothing to do with.”

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Moewe Jonathan
Moewe Jonathan
2 years ago

Why do they have 10 daughters when they cannot afford to bring them up?
Have they never heard of contraception?
We are a middle class family and definitely not poor. But we do not want to have more than 2 children, otherwise we could not give them sufficient attention, space and proper education.

Ana
Ana
2 years ago
Reply to  Moewe Jonathan

First of all contraception is not allowed in some religions, including Islam. Also, where in a refugee camp do you expect to get contraception, if the people don’t even get enough food?
Secondly, people from low socio-economic groups have more children. That’s just a fact. The number of children drops, the higher th economic status of a family.
If you want to change the birth rate of a region, you need to raise the living standards, followed by education.

Sam
Sam
2 years ago
Reply to  Ana

Actually that is not true about contraception not being allowed in Islam. There is nothing to stop them practicing this and many Muslims do. It obviously needs to be encouraged more and be more accessible for poorer families because if you cannot afford 10 kids then you should not be having them.

cait ni cadlaig
cait ni cadlaig
2 years ago

fair plat to them trying to fight for their daughters .The potential that disappears when girls leave education is enormous .Its stupidity in extreme and abusive .So good that fathers are starting to recognise this

cristina ramon
cristina ramon
2 years ago

UNACCEPTABLE!!!

Monica Cassels
Monica Cassels
2 years ago

Don’t they believe in contraception?

B. Payne
B. Payne
2 years ago

Here’s a thought. Stop having so many children ! Overpopulation is killing this planet. Child marriage is an outrage and needs to be stamped out.