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Marriage in Iraq turning into mirage

world Updated: Oct 29, 2007 12:49 IST

Getting married in Iraq is turning into a dream for the would-be brides and grooms as they are facing two massive difficulties - a lean purse and sectarian confrontation.

"It is very difficult to get married in Iraq nowadays because of the economic situation and the soaring cost," said 34-year-old Hussein Ali, an employee at the Ministry of Education.

Nowadays, an ordinary wedding costs at least $2,400 dollars (3 million Iraqi dinars), which is a considerable sum of money for Ali, who earns $300 a month.

According to traditions, the groom and his family bear the expenses of the marriage, covering the wedding party, furniture, in addition to clothes and jewels, which should be given to the bride ahead of the wedding.

"It is not easy for both women and men waiting for proposals, to afford for an expensive dowry, house and the daily costs of sustaining a family," said Ali, confessing that he could not muster enough courageous to propose his girlfriend due to his poor economic condition.

"Thinking about marriage is just like thinking about living in the hell," he grumbled.

The discord of Iraq's Sunni and Shia Muslims has come to the fore and turned increasingly bloody since the US-led invasion in 2003.

With the sectarian clashes heating up, any inter-sect contact has become impossible and even been targeted by extremists.

Suha al Haj, who works with a government institution, said one of her girlfriends fell victim to the sectarian hostility.

She said the sectarian discrimination is pushing Iraqi men and women to refuse marriage.

Kamilah Hasan, who works with a court as a researcher of social issues, said that the relentless disorder here has resulted in a considerable imbalance of gender ratio, as men were either killed in violence or forced to take refuge abroad.

The almost daily gruesome body findings and waves of explosions across Iraq have driven many Iraqi men to think seriously about leaving the war-torn country without concerning marriage or other social activities.

"Iraq will turn into the first country of spinsterhood in the world because more and more Iraqi men refuse to get married," Hasan said, calling on Iraqi social institutions to pay attention to this dangerous phenomenon, which has a bad effect on the Iraqi society.

The dwindling number of bridegroom candidates has given rise to worries among the Iraqi female.

"I yearn for marital life and family, no matter whether in the husband's house or his parents' house," said Suha Hamed, a student of the Baghdad University, adding that her parents advise her to accept more modest dowry to cut marriage costs.