The Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) confirmed the large amount of Syrian brides in Turkey with figures released Wednesday. Syrian brides topped all foreign brides with 3,569 women from Syria married to Turkish men in 2015 as prospects of a permanent stay in Turkey for thousands of refugees prevail with no end in sight to the Syrian civil war.
The figures were part of a wider study on marriage and divorce rates that did not show any substantial change in 2015. TurkStat says that the number of couples who got married increased only 0.5 percent compared to 2014 and was slightly over 602,000 while the number of couples who got divorced also increased slightly by 0.7 percent.
Turkey has about 2.7 million Syrian refugees displaced by the ongoing conflict in their country. Many refugees not staying in refugee camps along the Turkish-Syrian border face extreme poverty. Widowed or single Syrian women often marry Turkish men to secure financial status, according to media reports that also claim Syrian women in some cases even accept to be the second wife for married Turkish men, although this is not officially acknowledged. Syrian women are also victims of discrimination propaganda, due to cases of some women swindling would-be Turkish husbands by fleeing with the money and jewelry they receive as wedding gifts prior to officiating their marriages.
Syrian men are among the most numerous foreigners married to Turkish women. The number of Syrian men who have Turkish wives last year was 241 while German men took first place with 1,368 marriages last year, surpassing Austrian citizens. TurkStat did not clarify whether the German or Austrian men were of Turkish-German or Turkish-Austrian descent. Both countries have a considerable number of Turkish-origin citizens who migrated decades ago as guest workers.
TurkStat figures also show the highest marriage rate or number of people married per 1,000 is in Kilis, a city that has more Syrian refugees than the local population. The marriage rate was 9.84 per 1,000 in the city last year, followed by the city of Aksaray in central Turkey. Kastamonu in northern Turkey saw the lowest marriage rate.
İzmir, Turkey's third-largest city, once again topped the list of cities with the highest divorce rate of 2.77 couples per 1,000, while the southeastern district of Hakkari saw the lowest divorce rate at 0.17 per 1,000 couples.
According to TurkStat, 39.3 percent of divorces occurred in the first five years of marriage while 21.5 percent occurred between the sixth and 10th years of marriage.
A survey on divorces by the Family and Social Policies Ministry revealed that the majority of divorces filed by women stemmed from domestic violence they suffered at the hands of their husbands. Based on interviews with divorced women and legal cases, the survey found women cited violence as the main reason for divorce, followed by drug or alcohol addiction. Cheating and economic reasons are low on the list of reasons for divorce, according to the survey. The survey shows that the majority of divorces were settled peacefully.
Experts attribute divorce rates to a lack of marital counseling resources. The Family and Social Policies Ministry offers marriage counseling services to prevent divorce and notes that most divorce cases that are filed over minor disagreements between couples are resolved after the couple attends counseling sessions. If a divorce proceeds despite counseling, the ministry also offers counseling services for the children of divorced couples.
According to the TurkStat survey, the mean age for men at their first marriage was 27 and 23.9 for women. Figures show the mean age difference in first marriages is approximately 3.1 years.
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