Increased Syrian-Turkish marriages fuel social change: Experts
ISTANBUL – Anadolu AgencyMarriages between Syrian and Turkish citizens increased to almost 3,600 last year, data from the Turkish Statistics Institute (TÜİK) has revealed, while experts have agreed the resultant social changes were unavoidable, with some stressing the marriages could help socialization between the two cultures and others warning against damages to the institution of civil marriage.
Official data from TÜİK highlighted the increasing number of marriages between Syrian and Turkish nationals, as nearly 3,600 couples were wed during 2015. Simultaneously, researchers have begun to work and contemplate on the long-term effects of these interactions on Turkish society.
Ibrahim Soysüren, a sociologist from Neuchatel University in Switzerland, said these marriages could be beneficial in terms of increasing the socialization between the two cultures, which now have to exist side-by-side as Turkey currently hosts almost 3 million Syrian refugees who have fled the ongoing war in their home country.
However, Soysüren also warned these marriages could lead to continuing migration, depending on the response from Turkish institutions and society.
“For now, we can perceive this situation as [cultural] richness but, later on, its larger sociological results will depend on how the [Justice and Development Party - AKP] government and Turkish society handle this situation,” Soysüren told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency.
The researcher also expressed his expectation to see a further rise in the number of Syrian-Turkish families and their children, “even if everything goes back to normal in Syria.”
Another academic from İzmir’s Dokuz Eylül University, Prof. Özkan Yıldız, was a supporter of Soysüren’s argument that multicultural marriages could fasten integration but stressed that consequences with adverse effects on the institution of marriage could be observed in the long term.
“In the region [southeastern Turkey], marriage with more than one woman is already common but this phenomenon was triggered with this issue [Syrian-Turkish marriages] and started to become popular elsewhere in Turkey,” Yıldız said, warning against an erosion of civil marriages and a rise in marriage with multiple women, which is illegal in Turkey’s civil code.
Yıldız added that Turkey was facing an extremely rapid immigration wave, unprecedented in its history, causing public institutions to lag behind in foreseeing and taking measures against the consequences of social changes.
While a number of Turkish media reports highlighted the role of economic and social difficulties experienced by Syrian women to explain the rise of multicultural marriages, an Istanbul-based psychiatrist defined such marriages a “sensible choice” for “providing protective ties” to women.
“It is sensible that Syrian women marry Turkish men, because it provides her and her family protective ties,” Medaim Yanık said, adding that cultural differences could enrich marriages by bringing in positive change.
Yanık underlined that such marriages will be an integral part of Turkish society in the near future, while urging to reflect upon the social changes that will be brought about by migration.