“You have to bear children; it’s not up to you!”
This is the story of Um Abdalla, a Syrian woman aged 26.
“I was 16 years old and living in Syria. I always dreamt of marrying a man from another country and my wish came true when a women from Jordan came to visit us carrying a picture of her son. She asked for my hand and I accepted.
My husband is 11 years my senior. From the start of our marriage, my mother-in-law interfered in your private lives. She insisted that we should have many children immediately while were still young even though we had financial difficulties. My husband and I decided to postpone bearing children until our finances improve. I used oral contraceptive pills, but when my mother-in-law found out, she created problems for me and she made my husband force me to stop.
I got pregnant after two months of my marriage. I was very young and my parents-in-law were very controlling. No sooner had I delivered that my mother-in-law wanted another child even though my husband and I had agreed to wait after our first baby. My husband used the condoms, but unfortunately he didn’t commit to using it all the times, and the result was two babies in the first two years of marriage.
I decided to use contraceptives regardless. Marital problems broke out between us because of our financial strains and my mother-in-law’s interference. When my mother-in-law found out that I am using family planning she said, “You have to bear children; it’s not up to you! And if you don’t’ want, I will find another wife for my son.”
I got divorced and I took my children with me. My eldest is a daughter in third grade and my son is in the second grade. My husband remarried and had more children. My kids and I are living in Jordan alone. My family is still in Syria and I cannot reach them. I decided that I don’t want to marry again. I don’t want to have someone planning my life and controlling me.
Now I dream that every young woman knows her rights. She should not marry in haste. I wish that every young woman realizes that it is her right to plan a family and its future life with her husband, and her husband alone.”
Um Abdalla completed a on the basics of family health, reproductive health and gender conducted by the Youth club of JOHUD, along with 240 young men and women. This training is part of JCAP’s advocacy activities, funded by USAID and implemented by JOHUD, a Community Service Organization. Um Abdalla also attended a follow-up training to cascade her training to her peers and raise awareness among the youth on family planning issues and the demographic opportunity.