Syrian teenage girls struggling with hardship in Jordan’s refugee camps are suffering from sexual abuses from Saudi men who take advantage of them in short honeymoons that never lead to a marriage, a Saudi paper reports.
The Saudi Gazette said the Syrian families are duped into marrying their daughters off to Saudi men with promises of better life.
Um Alaa, a matchmaker in Al-Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, said the Saudis proposing to Syrian girls are mainly aged.
She added that the Saudi men disappear because “they want to keep their marriage a secret.”
Um Abdulkarim, a Syrian refugee, said the suitors are subjected to no background check.
“The men are only obligated to be present in front of officials when signing the marriage contract and they can get away with their crimes by bribing their way out,” she said.
She said the deadly war in her country has forced her and many others to seek refuge in Jordan.
“We did not choose to come to these refugee camps. We were chased away by grenades and bullets. Many sacrificed their lives to get us here and then this becomes our reality. Young girls who have barely flourished, wilt before they bloom,” she said.
However, Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Sami Al-Saleh played down such marriages, saying they are rare.
“Saudi marriages to Syrians are rare cases and not a phenomenon. All of these stories are heavily publicized in order to tarnish the reputation of Saudis,” he said.
At least 600,000 registered Syrian refugees live in Jordan, 100,000 of which live in al-Zaatari refugee camp.
Half of the refugees in the camp are children.
Syria sank into war in March 2011 when pro-reform protests turned into a massive insurgency following the intervention of Western and regional states.
The unrest, which took in terrorist groups from across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, has transpired as one of the bloodiest conflicts in recent history.