The uglier side of war: the spin-off effects on the social fabric of society

The uglier side of war: the spin-off effects on the social fabric of society

Baku, Azerbaijan, Aug. 21

By Claude Salhani - Trend:

War, as the American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman so adequately put it, is hell. But hell, as described in Dante's Inferno, consists of nine different levels, or circles, where the suffering gradually worsens with each descending level.

What the general public typically gets to see of faraway conflicts by ways of the media barely touches the first level of human suffering and the madness of wars, such as the immediate effect of combat on the fighters and civilians caught in the crossfire.

Wars however impact society in different ways, such as the brain drain resulting from massive migration and the long-term effect the loss of intellect in a country will have down the road.

Or the hell of human trafficking, where men and women - usually boys and girls - are regarded not as human beings, but as simple merchandise. Cargo for the pleasures of the flesh.

Not far behind the hellhole of human trafficking is the circle of forced child marriages that are currently happening in the unfolding conflict ravaging Syria and Iraq. Much like the netherworld described by Dante in his unique vision of Hades, each new circle offers additional suffering.

New details on the plight of Syrian refugees in Jordan released by the United Nations raises concerns about an alarming rise in the number of Syrian refugee girls in Jordan being forced into early marriages.

As a British Broadcasting Corporation correspondent reported from the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which is the largest Syrian refugee camp in the region, poverty is forcing some families to effectively sell their daughters, often to much older men.

"There is now an organized trade in young girls," states the report from the BBC. Their correspondent describes one particular instance where one 13-year-old girl wearing a frilly white dress, a hooded silk cape, and wearing makeup was getting ready to be married to a much older man.

"Earlier, at a makeshift beauty salon, a fellow Syrian refugee curled the girl's hair and layered make-up on her face - the finishing touches to the end of a childhood," reads a report filed from the camp by a BBC correspondent.

Almost one third of refugee marriages in Jordan involve a girl under 18, according to UNICEF. In cold figures that is 32 percent, up from 13 percent from prewar figures. UN officials say that most of these child marriages are driven by poverty.

Even with consent of the parents these cases amount to child abuse, said a UNICEF official.

Citing local sources, the BBC reports that the going rate for a bride is between 2,000 and 10,000 Jordanian dinars -- $2,800 to $14,000, with another $1,000 to $1,400 going to the broker.

Many of these young teenage brides are sold by their families to rich Gulf Arabs, and end up abandoned once they become pregnant. Often, the families that sold their daughters so as to lessen the financial strain of caring for them, end up with their daughter returning with yet another mouth to feed.

Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend agency

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