“Syrian children experienced such bad things that even grown men are not able to cope with. Ever since we saw with our own eyes, how people were killed, we have had nightmares”, says Eye. As a result of the war, they are facing awful dreams. Sometimes their mother is dying in front of them or they are walking on the street in their hometown in Syria where the streets are littered with bodies. She refuses to talk about her dreams; afraid to cause more nightmares and prefers to repress all her memories of the trauma. Eye sits alone most of the time. The war destroyed all their dreams and hopes.
A two room apartment combined by a corridor; some blankets, a television, a cooking plate, two carpets and one thin mattress for the mother. They prefer to stay together in one of them. Turkiye, Ruba, Fatma, Eye and Suhely had to flee Syria after the death of their husband and father. He was a policeman, they feared they would be kidnapped and killed as well. Fatma is 15 years old, Eye (13) and the youngest daughter Suhely is twelve years old. The whole family has endured mental wounds from the war. Mostly the 13-years-old Eye. Nightmares have been plaguing her ever since. After she has seen with how the people are beheaded in Aleppo on open street. Eye ́s maladjustment concerns Turkiye. She is sad and worried about her daughter. If she sees Eye exhausted like she is for so many times, the mother takes her near to herself; strokes over her head. She whispers some prayers to dispel her bad memories. Sometimes the girls gathered together at the rooftop to look over Mardin, a city in southeastern Turkey, about 30 km to the north of the border. Freedom. This has been written on Eye ́s hand; her desire and hope for the future. “When we were little girls we played in the school playground. At home, we played all together and had a house full of toys. In my childhood I always imagined to become a doctor. Now, there is neither the will to live nor something else left. In Turkey, there is nothing more than sorrows. Because of all those sorrows, I am tried of life.” Her only desire is freedom, so that she and her family are able to return back to their beloved home: Syria. Syrian children have been the forgotten victims of the horrific war, since the beginning of the conflict. Today, more than eight million children are in need of assistance, including over two million Syrian children who have sought refuge in neighboring countries. These children are at risk of becoming a „lost generation“. They cannot be ignored. Shortly after their arrival in Mardin, the eldest daughter Ruba got married. Even the wedding was a big celebration, there is not an official certificate of the marriage. She has seen her husband, who is ten years older than herself, only a few times before their wedding. Ever since than Ruba is living with the groom ́s family; just allowed to visit her family at certain days. Sometimes she does not get the permission to see her mother and sisters. Although, Turkiye imagined a different way of life for her daughters, the war forced her to marry her girls at a very young age. The dowry she got for her daughter became the only source of income; important for the family. The food stamps she got from the Turkish government are not enough to feed her daughters. That is why she is forced to give her daughters away for marriage.
After the rent got to expensive, Turkiye had to move to a cheaper apartment. Ruba ́s dowry did not cover their rent and their expenses anymore and after Fatma ́s family in law refused to pay the defined amount of money and also the small apartment where she could stay with her two youngest daughters for free, without facing any fear for one's existence According to the new figures from the United Nations there is an alarming rise in the number of Syrian refugee girls being forced into early marriages. Meanwhile, the number of Turkish men having ‘religious marriages’ (also called imam marriages) with Syrian women have increased dramatically. Imam marriages are against the law in Turkey, as well as marrying girls under the age of 18. Turkiye feels under pressure. After her husband died, Turkiye takes over the responsibility of a father for her daughters. She has been taking medication for sedation to be able to sleep. Otherwise she stays up all night, smokes one cigarette after another; worries about her children and their changes in Turkey.
 All images copyright © emine akbaba 2019, All rights reserved - t: +49(0)15771494871 - e: photography@emineakbaba.com


© emine akbaba 2017 - t: +49(0)15771494871 - e: photography@emineakbaba.com