She says “NO” to groom before wedding judge, breaking free of her father’s tyranny

Damascus Countryside, SANA – It might be not the first time for a woman to stand up to society’s grip boldly and say “no,” but every single cry of protest would help loosen this grip, and that is what happened when a young lady refused a marriage proposal and disobeyed her father’s will to fulfill her own.

19-year old Nagham from al-Tal town in Damascus Countryside was first obliged to become engaged to a man 20 years her senior, yet her will gained the upper hand, with her uttering a resounding “NO” before the wedding judge.

Nagham, who kept her family name anonymous, said that her father forced her to accept a marriage proposal of “a wealthy man in his 40’s” even though he is twenty years older than her.

“I told my father time and again that this man does not suit me… I’m just 19 and I want to continue studying for now, but my cries fell on deaf ears,” says Nagham.

“I was determined to reject this marriage, and the only choice left for me was to say no before the wedding judge and put an end to this matter… I wasn’t happy to embarrass my family or endure my father’s anger for sure, but I had to resort to the law to protect myself.”

Lawyer Laila al-Awwad says that Nagham did the right thing, as the wedding judge fulfilled his duty and discontinued the marriage process. “The law protects Nagham’s right to choose her spouse whether she is an adult or underage. The law is quite clear, as a person should explicitly announce their approval or rejection before the wedding judge.”

“A violent behavior is expected to occur in such cases, and that is why Nagham can mandate the judge to be her own guardian and the father is to make a written pledge assuring that he will not harm his daughter or force her to get married against her will,” the lawyer clarifies.

Hiam Ali, a social researcher, considers that the Middle Eastern society in general is still closed and traditional values still dominate many families in the country, giving no respect to personal freedoms or rights that are maintained in the state’s laws and legislations.

“Individuals, women in particular, should be aware of their rights that the law protects and be bold enough to defend themselves properly. Tyranny should not be masked with bright names such as parents’ obedience, as no woman is obliged to spend the rest of her life with an abusive husband,” Ali illustrates.

“There can be no real freedom for us until this traditional value system is deconstructed and social liberties are strengthened, leading to creating a healthy, constructive society,” she adds.

Yesterday, a conference on combating violence against women and children was held, and Prime Minister Wael al-Halaqi said that providing protection to women and children is one of the Syrian government’s top priorities, adding that Syria has achieved major strides in eliminating violence and sexual abuse exercised against women and children.

Rasha Milhem /  Hazem Sabbagh

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