Man Talk In The Back of the Cab
Happens In Other Places
Two Syrian children may be the youngest couple ever to get engaged.
Khalid, 5, popped the question to Hala, who’s just 3, “of his own free will,” following a whirlwind holiday romance.
The families of both children are not only taking the betrothal seriously, they insist the school children are in love and are already planning a wedding for 10 years down the road — when Khalid will be 15 and Hala 12.
The parents arranged the engagement ceremony in their home town of Homs, about 100 miles north of Damascus. They invited family friends and even bought rings which the prepubescent couple exchanged in adult fashion.
Their story has become the talk of the country.
Khalid’s father, Juma, said his son fell in love with Hala just days after meeting her during a family trip to the port city of Latakia.
“He was so love-sick after parting from his young girlfriend that he refused to go back to his nursery unless little Hala came too,” said Juma, who added that Khalid was his only child from a marriage which lasted more than 25 years.
“I vowed to have my child engaged at the age of five if he was a boy and to marry him to a women of his choice at the age of 15,” he said. He has also agreed to bear the education expenses of both children until they graduate.
Child marriage continues across the globe as many cultures remain bound by tradition, but there are very few cases when it comes to big cities in this Middle Eastern country. Syria is not among the United Nations list of 30 countries with the highest incidents of child marriage.
Several international human rights agreements protect children from underage marriage, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Convention of Eradication of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (1979), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (1990).
The UN recommends that countries adopt a minimum age for marriage of 18 for both sexes, saying child marriage reinforces low education, high fertility, and poverty.