Syrian female refugees on sale on Facebook, NGOs denounce

Young women, including minors, on marriage sites

23 May, 10:26

    Syrian refugees in Lebanon (archive) Syrian refugees in Lebanon (archive)

    (ANSAmed) - BEIRUT - A few thousand euros are enough to buy Syrian women, including minors, who have fled their war-torn country and are living in refugee camps, Arab human rights groups have denounced.

    The groups are sounding the alarm on the plight of women who are on sale as ''Syrians up for marriage'' on Facebook.

    This phenomenon is not new. Last year, reports alleged that Syrian women living in refugee camps in Jordan, Turkey and Iraq had been sold to men from Arab countries, in particular from the Gulf area. Rights groups also denounced cases of violence and sexual harassment in which victims were as young as 12 and 13 years of age.

    The Facebook page publicizing Syrian refugees who could be bought as wives was closed on Thursday after hundreds of activists and human rights' lawyers protested. But it had thousands of followers between May 17-21 including prospective clients interested in the women who were portrayed with little on. Some posts showed the picture of women ''looking for a husband'' with a brief profile on their chastity and their ability in domestic work.

    But to get a better insight into the ''goods'' on sale, men had to send an email to start negotiations. According to Arab NGO Kafa, which has repeatedly denounced the phenomenon, clients mostly hail from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, as well as Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Yemen and Bahrain.

    Among the announcements was one publicizing ''refugee girls of all ages and religious confessions'' to satisfy all applications from Sunnis, Shiites and Christians in a climate of growing religious polarization.

    ''You can marry legally or secretly'', read the Facebook page.

    According to Syrian activists with the ''Refugees, not slaves'' group in Jordan, where hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees live in overcrowded refugee camps in the north and the main urban centers, local papers publish many prostitution adverts of Syrian and Arab women.

    The phenomenon is also widespread in Lebanon, where there are no official refugee camps but where over a million Syrians have fled. There are no criminal groups behind this growing trend: often victims' families are involved or sometimes they are ''encouraged'' by local NGOs distributing humanitarian aid in camps, which have access to the most desperate cases.

    According to reports from Iraqi Kurdistan and Jordan, women are even sold in mosques after negotiations between parents and aspiring husbands. The mediators, often women, earn at least 50 euros to organize the meeting. And if the two perspective spouses reach an agreement the price can be as high as 3,000 euros, or about 10% of the deal.

    Weddings are mostly just a means of having sexual intercourse with a virgin and subsequently divorce her in just a few days with everything taking place ''legally''. Victims thus cannot report their ''husbands'' and face further social humiliation.

    (ANSAmed).

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