Nada Qamareddine is a 16-year-old Syrian from the town of Ras al-Maarra near the Qalamoun Mountains. She was forced to marry an Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) fighter by misyar marriage (i.e. temporary marriage of convenience). She ran away from her husband out of fear of daily rape and after she heard that he intended to divorce her and marry her off to the emir of his fighting group in order to please him.
Nada found refuge with a Syrian family. She ran away with them to the Lebanese border town of Shebaa prior to the Qalamoun battle. She later settled in Sidon with another displaced Syrian family who took pity on her.
In an interview with NOW, Nada said that her father insisted on marrying her off without her consent to a Sudanese ISIS fighter in return for money and ISIS protection.
She explained that she remained with her husband for about a year, during which she was horribly mistreated, raped repeatedly, and moved from one house to another due to the fighting in Syria. “He was devoid of any human feelings or emotions,” she said about the fighter. “He considered me his private property. He even ate first and fed me the leftovers.”
Nada said that her family failed to protect her from her husband for fear ISIS would accuse them all of being infidels. She also emphasized that she does not wish to communicate with her family or obtain any information about her parents’ fate for the time being, as she blames them for her unhappiness.
Hajji Umm Muhammad recounted how she met Nada near the Lebanese border in a house transformed by its owners into a lounge, serving food and water to the displaced. “Nada’s face was etched with terror,” she told NOW. “I drew closer and greeted her. She burst into tears and told me her story and asked me to take her along to Lebanon, so I decided not to leave her behind to the mercy of ISIS fighters.”
Rouba Saleh, a social worker, says that everyone has a right to enjoy the protections stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adding that the law entrusts minors to guardians or custodians, but that this does not give them the right to take advantage of their prerogative in violation of the law and human rights.
Saleh stressed that a girl cannot be forcibly married and should have the last word regarding whether she gets married or not.
Yasser Daoud, executive director for Development Action without Borders-Nabaa, argued that Nada’s case falls within the framework of human exploitation and trafficking in times of war, and underscored that such crimes are punishable by international law.
Daoud warned against the negative psychological and social repercussions from which Nada may suffer as a result of her ordeal, and highlighted the need to provide her with protection, moral support, and psychological follow-up in order to help her overcome her trauma.