In Syria, Matchmaking Services Replace Dating in Wartime

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But some support matchmaking as a valid substitute for traditional dating. Mahmoud, a 61-year-old army retiree, now works in a marriage office in nearby Binnish, in rural Idlib. "Our services prevent the outbreak of sin and adultery in society," he says, adding that the matchmakers play a pivotal role in encouraging young people preoccupied by the war to get married – especially now that the number of marriages have decreased due to the sheer number of men killed in battle.

Mohammad, 49, is a former employee of the Idlib Electricity Company and met his wife through a marriage office eight months ago.

"I studied the files of dozens of girls before selecting one," he says. "Had the office had not been there, my options would have been limited. The office also provided facilitation in registering the marriage at the sharia courts."

His bride is a 32-year-old war widow. The two now live at his home in the Khan Sheikhoun area. "Everything is going well for us," he says.

Ditto Hameed, 32, a taxi driver from rural al-Hamdyeh. Unable to find a suitable marriage partner, he contacted a matchmaking service four months ago – but is still looking to find the perfect wife.

"The majority of registered females are widows or divorced," he says, "and I'm looking for a virgin. I'm beginning to despair of finding what I want, and I think I will soon return to traditions practiced in my village and marry one of my cousins."

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