Turkish men taking Syrian refugee women

syrian-womanTurkish men taking Syrian refugee women as second wives is one of the main reasons for this increase in divorce rates in Kilis

The increasing number of Syrian migrants are effecting their host or destination countries in a variety of ways. Their presence prompts not only political challenges but also social challenges as well. One of these difficulties as reported by the Heads of the Kilis and Manisa Bar Associations is the supposed destruction of family life.

In 2014, the number of Turkish couples who filed for divorce was 130,913 and a recent report by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TUIK) showed an increase in this number by 4.5 percent. Currently, no research has been conducted on the relationship between the above-mentioned trend and the presence of Syrian women in Turkey, however, the President of the Kilis Bar Association argues that Turkish men taking Syrian refugee women as second wives is one of the main reasons for this increase in divorce rates in Kilis.

Here, members of the Kilis Bar Association Center for Women’s and Children’s Rights state that there is a growing number of Turkish women who want to divorce their husbands because they have brought Syrian women into the home as their second wives. They also mention that even though this issue is sometimes mentioned in the women’s divorce petitions, other times it is not because the petitioner is ashamed of the circumstances. These concerns raised by various lawyers are still relevant today and similar issues have been voiced by different authorities.

For example, Attorney Nezahat Bölge, who is a President of the Manisa Bar Association Center for Women’s and Children’s Rights said that “We always try to support many Turkish women who are exposed to violence, but this year we are seeing that some women want to divorce their husbands owing to a different factor, namely, Syrian refugee women.”

She also adds that “It seems that the divorce rate will increase in the forthcoming years because of the number of Syrian refugee women becoming second wives. Syrian girls who escaped from the Syrian Civil War marry Turkish men to get out of refugee camps. They choose this path for this reason alone. We have encountered such kinds of marriages in Manisa. We have seen cases in which 50 year-old Turkish men marry 15 year-old Syrian girls. The girls accept the status of a second wife as a last resort due to the difficult living conditions in the refugee camps.”

As more and more data and discourse become available, it is expected that the social impact of Syrian refugee women as second wives in Turkey will become a topic of heated debate