Shoes and wedding dresses on display in a Damascus store, where young people find it increasingly difficult to get married because of the war, January 8, 2018
Nour casts a disenchanted glance at his naked ring finger, then scans his peers on the campus of Damascus University. In the middle of an ocean of young women, no single boy who can become his soulmate.
At 30, this young Damascene who chose to return to school, says she is impatient to get married. But the war, which drags on in Syria, means that the great majority of young men have either emigrated, joined the army or died.
„I hope a wedding ring will decorate that finger one day,“ says Nour who uses a pseudonym, for, she says, speak freely.
„There are no more young men here, they all left years ago, and their numbers are declining year by year,“ she says.
At the beginning of the conflict in 2011, Nour was preparing for his first degree in economics.
At the time, she received weekly contenders. „Today the marriage proposals have almost stopped.“ And those who propose „are either already married or elderly,“ laments the young woman.
To pass the time, Nour decided to register again at the university for a second degree in literature.
„I have no friend, lover or husband,“ she sighs. „I am terrified to see a gray hair grow before I get married, so I will definitely lose hope.“
In this largely conservative society, women often married before their thirties.
– Weddings on Skype –
Residents pass by a jeweler’s shop in Damascus, where young people find it increasingly difficult to get married because of the war, January 8, 2018
„Today, a woman can marry at age 32 without people saying she did it late,“ says Salam Qassem, a professor of psychology in Damascus.
In nearly seven years of war, more than 340,000 people have died. Tens of thousands of men have been deployed on the front.
Of the 23 million pre-war inhabitants, more than five million have fled Syria and nearly seven million have been displaced.
This has significantly weakened the social connections parents used to find potential spouses for their children, says Qassem.
„Neighbors all knew each other before or got to know each other quickly, but today families are scattered everywhere,“ she says.
Some Syrians have managed to get around these obstacles by marrying via Skype. Future spouses who live in different Syrian countries or provinces then mandate a third party to conclude and register their marriage certificate when they exchange their wishes online.
But this is not the case for everyone.
Aged 31, Yousra, who works as a translator for the government, says her parents fear she will „miss the marriage train“.
„I do not want you to become an old girl,“ her mother tells her, advising her to „look around for a good match“.
– ‚Crazy‘! –
But like Nour, Yousra finds herself surrounded by fellow women or men she considers too old for her.
„Everyone knows that a large part of the youth has paid a heavy price“ to the conflict, reminds AFP this slender woman.
In addition to the lack of young men, the war has also made it more difficult for people from different religious communities to marry. And it has caused high inflation, widespread unemployment and huge economic losses.
„The rising cost of living and other financial factors make the marriage mission impossible,“ says Firas, a 37-year-old man who is reluctant to marry.
„Whoever gets married in these circumstances is crazy, I can not even guarantee a safe and dignified life for myself, what would it be if I had a wife and children?“ He loose.
Mounzer Kallas hung a large calendar on his bedroom wall with dates circled in red. These are the different deadlines for scholarship applications abroad.
„I do not think at all about marriage, I decided to follow my brother to Germany,“ says the 26-year-old medical student. „I’d better look for a plane ticket rather than a woman“.