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Mar 25 2013

Desperation

Desperate Syrian women who find themselves refugees in Jordan can…sell themselves or their daughters, for usually a very small sum of money.

Her daughter Aya is their best hope.

“My daughter is willing to sacrifice herself for her family,” Nezar says. “If the war had not happened I would not marry my daughter to a Saudi. But the Syrians here are poor and have no money.”

Nezar’s daughter is 17. The Saudi groom is 70.

Maybe he’ll turn out to be a nice guy.

The surplus of desperate Syrian refugees means marriage has become a buyer’s market with some grooms offering as little as $100 cash for a bride.

The legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18 but some religious clerics will marry underage girls for a small fee. This puts the girls at even greater risk for exploitation because some of Um Majed’s clients want a temporary union lasting a few weeks or months after which the girl is returned to her parents.

In other words, it is religiously sanctioned prostitution.

“One of my brides has been married three, four times,” Um Majed says. “She is 15.”

So her family maybe got 400 whole dollars out of the deal.

“I have 10 families looking for grooms,” she says. “Their girls are between 12 and 21. The grooms are always in their 40s, 50s, or 70s. They want beautiful girls, the younger the better.”

She pauses and takes a drag of the cigarette.

“The Saudis usually ask for 12-year-olds.”

Oh do they.

13 comments

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  1. 1
    Acolyte of Sagan

    Maybe he’ll turn out to be a nice guy.

    Yeah, right, and certainly not a dirty old man with $100 to spare.

    “Their girls are between 12 and 21. The grooms are always in their 40s, 50s, or 70s. They want beautiful girls, the younger the better.”

    Right, because if it was good enough for Mo…
    They can’t draw his picture but they sure as shit ain’t shy about copying his perverse morality. A backward people in so many senses of ‘backward’.

  2. 2
    Argle Bargle

    “The Saudis usually ask for 12-year-olds.”

    Nothing I can write matches the disgust I’m feeling.

  3. 3
    Claire Ramsey

    oh crap I am horrified and sickened. My stomach turned when I read this post.

  4. 4
    Pogsurf

    Ophelia, have you heard that Lobster Blogster may actually be active again? He/she is a notorious sockpuppeter and may be the one that is behind Eu. Just a word of caution, that’s all.

  5. 5
    zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait

    God what the Fuck. How can humans be so cruel? How can men be so cruel, Christ?

  6. 6
    zhuge, le homme blanc qui ne sait rien mais voudrait

    I mean Fuck, if I had 100 dollars to spare and met a war refugee, I’d fucking give it to her, no strings attached. God damn, I think I have some donating to do.

  7. 7
    steve oberski

    The paedophile prophet is claimed by Muslims to be the perfect man who reflects all the divine attributes so this is exactly the sort of behaviour one would expect.

    But on the other hand, we are criticizing a caricature of Islam when we speak out against this behaviour, or so I have been told.*

    * replace Islam and paedophilia with an arbitrary religion and a religiously motivated vile behaviour

  8. 8
    Gretchen

    Steve,

    A caricature is a simple image showing the features of its subject in a simplified or exaggerated way

    Yes, I would say it’s a simplified image of Islam to suggest that a practice of a certain group of Muslims in a certain place is to be expected of modern Muslims generally because their prophet engaged in a similar sort of thing in the year 600 or so.

    /not defense of pedophilia, either in the context of “regular marriage” or serial “marriage”

  9. 9
    kestra

    I’m not saying that brides for dowries involving underage girls happens, I know that it does. But the more lurid details of this article, especially the “temporary unions” blessed by a cleric and the “Saudis seeking 12-year-olds” seem… suspect to me. I’m sure there is a grain of truth there, but it also seems a bit too tailored to play on Western prejudices about oppressed, helpless Muslim women and dirty old Saudi men who use and abuse them.

    It reminds me, especially the “temporary unions” bit, of an article about “temporary marriages” blessed by clerics in Tunisia and Sudan that appear to be almost completely baseless. Yes, women are raped, sold, and abused in these countries (much like everywhere else blessed with human inhabitants.) But indicting Islamic clerics as complicit in the practice, and thus indicted Islam as whole with the worst Western stereotypes of how it treats women, seems a bit too perfect to me.

    Like “Droit du signeur”, it sounds more like the kind of thing people always accuse the godless, heathen infidel enemy of doing, but that no one anywhere actually does.

    One the other hand, here’s a much less sensationalist article about how the practice works in Iran: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/03/temporary-marriage-iran-islam

    Note that temporary marriages seem to be more accepted by Shia Islam, which claims a Quranic basis, than Sunni Islam, and also note that Saudia and Syrians are in the main Sunni.

    And there’s a documentary on how younger, consenting couples can use temporary marriage as a means of liberation: http://www.diwaniyya.org/2012/03/temporary-marriage-in-islam.html

  10. 10
    ann

    Desperation and sexism.

    Nobody is selling off their precious sons, now are they.

  11. 11
    Ophelia Benson

    kestra, I recommend Maryam Namazie’s blog to your attention.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/maryamnamazie

  12. 12
    Worldtraveller

    I wish there was a reasonable way to get them asylum here in the US, Canada, or other slightly more civilized countries. I’d be willing to pitch in to get more than $100 to the families to help them out of that situation, even.

    Barbarous barely describes the situation…..

  13. 13
    S Mukho

    Kestra, I actually have no problem believing this, because around 20 years ago, there was a scandal in India when it was discovered that an old Saudi man was trying to buy ‘marriage’ with a 13 year old Indian Muslim girl. It was only the vigilance and help of the female flight attendant on the flight out of her home city that helped this girl escape his clutches.

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