In Syria … Husbands with fake names … and children without civil documents

In Syria … Husbands with fake names … and children without civil documents

Reports | 25 05 2020

The marriage of Syrian female citizens to foreign fighters using titles and pseudonyms instead of their real names has resulted into a generation of children without an identity that will suffer from social and legal difficulties in case of the death or disappearance of the father. This issue appears amid advocacy campaigns launched by activists to raise awareness of women in radical Islamic organizations held areas. In this report we will showcase stories of Syrian women who married anonymous men and paid for it in several ways.

Hind (alias), from Idlib countryside, married an Arab fighter whose identity was anonymous to her. She knew him only as Abu Omar. She had a child, and a year later she received the news of her husband's death in one of the battles. Now she is a widow living with a child who has no family name.

In Idlib countryside area district, which is held by the armed opposition, there are no official registration centers for marriage or births. Although there are offices of the interim opposition government, they are still poorly organized and unable to control civil records professionally. Foreign persons who fight alongside extremist organizations use titles and aliases for security reasons.

"I accepted to marry Abu Omar when he proposed to me after I was convinced by my father that Abu Omar had authority and money," explained Hind to Rozana. He was a security officer at al-Nusra Front in the town in Idlib countryside.

She added that "Abu Omar gave to her family a huge dowry and golden jewelry during engagement."

About a year ago, also in Idlib countryside, Amina (a pseudonym) was found dead in her house after committing suicide. One of her relatives told Rosana that "Amina’s family wed her two years ago to a man carrying the title of Abu Hudhayfah Attounoussi, who is a fighter at al-Nusra front, and she gave birth to a girl.

"A few months after her marriage, a friend of her husband, also Tunisian, came to Amina with the news of her husband’s death in one of the battles. After that, he raped her, which caused Amina to commit suicide," said her relative.

Khadija (a pseudonym), a young woman from Harem in Idlib countryside, married in 2015 to an Egyptian ISIS fighter, called Abu Khattab.

Abu Khattab is a pseudonym used by the man to conceal his identity.  He was infected with AIDS and transferred it to his wife and her infant. Khadija discovered the disease only after the sudden disappearance of her husband "Abu Khattab." Khadija and her child were taken to Turkey for treatment. However, she died about a year later, suffering from complications of the disease and not receiving an early treatment.

(Who is your husband?) .. A launched campaign aiming at raising awareness of the dangers of Syrian females marriage to anonymous fighters

Syrian activists have begun to promote for the campaign on social media website about a week ago. This was preceded by preparations in the areas targeting the campaign in the villages of Hama and Idlib, which are held by opposition factions and organizations, including Fatah al-Sham (previously al-Nusra Front), in order to spread the necessary awareness and provide families and wives with enough and clear information about the proposing men in the region instead of being content with just the title or the alias of the man (groom)...

Zidane told Rozana that the campaign has already started about a month and a half ago by a group of activists in Syria. He added that during the preparation period the campaign has been publicized by distributing leaflets and explanations about its main objectives.

He pointed out that these activities were conducted in absolute secrecy for fear of prosecution by “Tahrir al-Sham” which includes groups of fighters, most notably Fatah al-Sham, Al-Nusra Front previously.

According to statistics from the campaign, there are approximately 1,750 marriages of Syrian women to foreign fighters, 1124 of whom have children, and the number of children out of these marriages is 1826. In addition, 193 of married women were divorced, or their husbands were killed in combat, and there are 165 cases where the husband disappeared and his fate is still unknown.

With regard to the campaign achievements two months after its launch, Zidane said that the campaign was able to reach the target group in the western countryside of Aleppo, Idlib, and its countryside and the northern countryside of Hama.

In addition, women's centers interacted with the campaign in the areas of its spread. They asked to participate in raising awareness about the dangers of Syrian women marriages to strangers through holding dialogue sessions involving women from these areas, according to the campaign's media official.

Legal consequences of the marriage to unidentified foreign fighters

Lawyer Hossam Sarhan told Rozana that the children of marriages of Syrian mothers and unknown foreign fathers are considered children of unknown parentage. He added that "the basis of marriage registration is that the parents are known and the status of marriage is registered in the civil service, but in the current situation in Syria, it is not possible to register in many areas outside the control of the Syrian regime."

Sarhan pointed out that these children are described by the current Syrian personal status law as "unregistered children with unknown parentage" and consequently do not enjoy any civil rights.

It seems that the suggested solutions to register these children with unknown parentage is the adoption of a law which allows the Syrian mother to grant nationality to her children, according to jurists. The new cases that emerged during the war in Syria need new legal treatment before producing human-made disasters, namely the existence of thousands of unregistered children in the country.

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