Marriage a distant dream for many in Iraq’s Mosul

Evening wear and wedding dresses are displayed in a showroom in Mosul. Iraq’s second city is a bastion of traditionalism and conservatism, but suitors are finding it increasingly hard to save enough cash to fund a dowry and a wedding. (AFP)
Updated 18 May 2018

Marriage a distant dream for many in Iraq’s Mosul

  • Before the Daesh group made Mosul its self-proclaimed capital in mid-2014, Iraq’s second city was a bastion of traditionalism and conservatism. It was rare for women to hit their 20s before marrying or being engaged.
  • Reconstruction is under way, but with 21,500 homes destroyed or badly damaged, the task is overwhelming, Iraqi authorities say. And the wait for young people to seal their nuptials is getting longer and longer.

MOSUL, Iraq: Khulud yearns to be swept away by a “prince charming,” but like many young Iraqis in the former jihadist stronghold of Mosul she worries she may never marry.
“I haven’t found a husband or a job — my life consists of household chores,” says the 24-year-old university graduate, who feels increasingly trapped in her parents’ home.
“My older sister, who is 37, already has four children... I still perhaps have a chance to find a husband, but my 29-year-old sister has much less” hope, Khulud adds, a sad smile marking the corners of her mouth.
Before the Daesh group made Mosul its self-proclaimed capital in mid-2014, Iraq’s second city was a bastion of traditionalism and conservatism. It was rare for women to hit their 20s before marrying or being engaged.
Back in government hands since July last year, the city is still scarred by nine months of brutal combat.
Reconstruction is under way, but with 21,500 homes destroyed or badly damaged, the task is overwhelming, Iraqi authorities say.
And the wait for young people to seal their nuptials is getting longer and longer. Suitors are finding it increasingly hard to save enough cash to fund a dowry and a wedding, never mind set up home with a spouse.
Mumen Abdallah also dreams of marriage.
“I have a degree in economics, but this hasn’t helped me realize my dream,” says the 38-year-old, one of a crowd of men lounging on a cafe terrace.
He still hasn’t left the family home and the little cash he earns as a taxi driver is barely enough to help with the rent, in a cramped household of seven.
Manaf Khaled, a 32-year-old social worker, says a woman’s marriage prospects can depend on her employment.
“Many men prefer to marry a woman who works and contributes to household expenses,” she says.
Some couples are even relying on charity. At a function room in Mosul, hundreds of people — the guests from 10 wedding parties — tuck into a communal meal.
Mohammed Sami, a 27-year-old blacksmith who is among the grooms, says he is just happy to be here, despite not being able to afford a suit for himself or a wedding dress for his wife.
During the three years Daesh was in control of Mosul, the city was cut off from the central government in Baghdad.
Under the occupation, public sector workers went without wages. Some are still waiting to rejoin the payroll, as the security services carry out investigations in the former Daesh fiefdom.
“Unemployment and the long interruption to salaries has prevented very many young people who want to start a family from marrying,” Ashraf Ismail, who works in women’s protection, says.
In a bid to unblock the bottleneck, lawmaker Jamila Al-Obeidi has been pushing a novel proposal in Iraq’s parliament.
She wants the government “to provide five million dinars ($4,000, 3,300 euros) to every man wishing to marry, then a million dinars for each child born,” she says.
But there are strings attached. “The proposed wife must be older than the ‘normal’ marriage age, divorced, or a war widow,” she says.
While the initiative has gained the support of 70 lawmakers, it hasn’t been adopted by the government.
But if it ever became law, it might give 38-year-old Rim, who does not give her full name, a ray of hope.
“A husband may never come for me,” she says.
“When I was young, I refused many suitors so as to finish my studies and wait for the arrival of my prince charming, but now the chances of meeting him are slim,” she laments.


Mumbai DJ swaps deck for doctor’s scrubs to fight coronavirus

Updated 28 May 2020

Mumbai DJ swaps deck for doctor’s scrubs to fight coronavirus

  • DJ Sanjay Meriya, known as The Spindoctor in Mumbai music circles, began work last month as a medical volunteer

MUMBAI: As India’s financial capital Mumbai battled a growing number of coronavirus cases, local DJ Sanjay Meriya set aside his turntable and dusted off a long-unused medical degree in order to help out.
Meriya, 30, known as The Spindoctor in Mumbai music circles, began work last month as a medical volunteer after spotting a government newspaper ad asking for help.
He has chiefly been visiting a slum in one of Mumbai’s worst-hit suburbs, clad in a protective suit and gloves, to instruct local residents about the precautions they should take to ward off the coronavirus.
“I’m very patriotic. I can battle this way (as a doctor),” Meriya, who signed up as a volunteer for at least three months, told Reuters.
Mumbai accounts for more than 32,000 of India’s 150,000 cases of the coronavirus, making it the worst-hit city. With government hospitals short of beds and health officials overworked, volunteers like Meriya are all the more important.
Meriya began to dabble in DJing as a hobby at around the age of 20 while studying for his medical degree, but said it then “took over me” — much to his family’s dismay.
“They hated it. They still hate it,” he said of his decision to devote himself to being a DJ.
Although worried about his potential exposure to the virus, Meriya’s family is thrilled to see him back in medicine.
“They now have a lot to share with all our relatives, if you know what I mean when it comes to Indian families,” he said.