Indecent proposal: Syrian women exploited

By CARE Australia April 17, 2013 0 comments

By Noura Shahed, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, CARE Jordan

‘Are you Syrian? Will you marry me?’ These are just some of the questions that 34-year-old Mufeeda has been hearing since her husband went missing in Syria.

Mufeeda, her husband Awad and their four children fled to Jordan in August 2012 after already having left their home to stay with relatives two years before. The young family lived in fear in Syria; they finally took the decision to leave their country when they could no longer handle the pressure and constant bombing.

‘We decided to take the chance and leave everything behind us when we heard that Syrians who come to Jordan get assisted and provided with all the help they need.’

What Mufeeda did not know is that price rises, lack of income-generating opportunities and exploitation were some of the many challenges that awaited her family.

After making sure his wife and children were settled in Jordan, Awad decided to go back to settle their affairs in Syria.

‘I have not heard from him in three months; I do not know where he is or if he is even alive,’ says Mufeeda, obviously distressed.

Learn more about the Syrian refugee crisis.

Mofeeda and her family face an uncertain future, especially if their financial situation does not improve. ©CARE
Mofeeda and her family face an uncertain future, especially if their financial situation does not improve. ©CARE

Despite having arrived from Syria with no possessions and having no source of income, the mother of four is now responsible for providing food and shelter for the whole family. She has visited all the organisations based in Zarqa to ask for help, but all she received was a promise that they will contact her when they have something available.

‘Local organisation representatives would assist Syrian women who were groomed and beautiful; nobody took notice of me as my eyes were constantly swollen from crying all the time.’

Now Mufeeda puts on makeup, wears the one fancy outfit she has and heads off to the organisations to seek food packages and diapers for her children.

‘Amazingly enough, it works most of the time.’

Azhar, her 12-year-old son, dropped out of school and is now working full-time to provide for his family. He prepares coffee at a local coffee shop and works 12 hours for a daily wage of £1.50. Azhar’s weekly wage of £9 is the family’s only source of income. The money isn’t enough – not when you are trying to feed yourself, your three siblings, mother and the Syrian family of two women who you are also living with.

Both families are staying in a one bedroom house and lack the most basic utilities and have only mattresses on the floor. They have been threatened with eviction if they delay paying their rent.

‘The landlord increased the price of rent to £180 when she discovered that more people are living in the house, and gave us a week to pay the extra rent or to leave the house; she could easily rent it for an even higher price once we leave.’

The family’s future is uncertain especially if their financial situation remains as it is now. But what is clear is that their condition will only get worse if they don’t get any help.

‘I’m afraid we will end up on the streets,’ says Mufeeda.

She worries that ultimately her only option might be to accept one of the indecent proposals she keeps hearing from Jordanian men and the money they promise.

You can help Syrian refugees living in Jordan – make a donation to the Syrian Refugee Crisis Appeal now.

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