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29-Apr-2020 23:41

Um Majed sets down small cups of hot Turkish coffee to ease the tension. So does Um Majed who will earn a 7 fee if the two sides agree to the match.Nezar is a Syrian refugee and looking for a husband for her daughter. Um Majed, 28, is also a Syrian refugee, a former housewife from Homs.AMMAN, JORDAN—Nezar’s face is tight with expectation as she arrives for the meeting.She is a heavy-set mother of 12 and as she arranges herself on the small sofa in Um Majed’s living room she removes her black veil and the pious black gloves that allow her to shake hands with men who are not her relatives.By choosing “I agree” below, you agree that NPR’s sites use cookies, similar tracking and storage technologies, and information about the device you use to access our sites to enhance your viewing, listening and user experience, personalize content, personalize messages from NPR’s sponsors, provide social media features, and analyze NPR’s traffic.This information is shared with social media services, sponsorship, analytics and other third-party service providers. “If he was younger I would accept 2,000 dinars.”*In the old days, the neighbourhood busybody, a matronly figure, was the matchmaker. “He abandoned me to fight and left me with the burden of supporting the family.”Syrian brides have always been sought after, especially by Gulf Arab men.

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They flood into cities like Amman where they live on the charity of kindly Jordanians and aid organizations.At 29, she is considered an older bride and has two daughters from her ex-husband whom she divorced because she caught him in bed with his sister-in-law.Eman is tired of the war and its slogans.“I curse the people who call for freedom,” she says.The legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18 but some religious clerics will marry underage girls for a small fee.

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This puts the girls at even greater risk for exploitation because some of Um Majed’s clients want a temporary union lasting a few weeks or months after which the girl is returned to her parents.

She lists the girl’s qualities.“She is tall and pretty,” she tells Um Majed. Um Majed isn’t her actual name but a respectable Arab moniker meaning ‘mother of Majed,’ her young son.