The Kurdish Globe
By Zakariya Muhammed
Colleges in Kurdistan Region have long been places where students begin to think about the rest of their lives, and in many cases that includes marriage. Nowadays, most young adults are not prepared to get married with someone who is chosen by their parents. They would rather find prospective partners by themselves in colleges and workplaces.
When 21 year old Hiwa Ahmad was a student at the Technical Institute in Erbil, he fell in love with his classmate Hazha Othman. While, most people would leave after they finished their classes, Ahmad found himself frequently remaining at school for hours indulging in longs conversation with a girl, Othman, who he described as a "the best lady in the world".
Ahmad and Othman stayed in touch through mutual friends and only a year after their graduation, the two eventually got engaged, and have now been married for over two months.
"I feel my dream came true and succeeded in choosing a partner that I liked to get married with. I believe if there was no school, I wouldn't be able to find my beloved at all. I am sure my wife feel the same," said Ahmad
Ahmad admitted that he faced many difficulties until he got married as financial problems, dowry demands and unemployment created obstacles in his path to marriage.
"My dad took the responsibility for all the costs of the process which I will never forget. God helped me as I found a job and the money I make monthly is enough for living expenses and to rent a house." explained Ahmad
Despite the increase of engagements among college students, some perceive college as only a place for attaining education and believe that long-term relationships between college students harms the reputation of girls.
"I don't believe in relationships between girls and boys in colleges. Most of those who have tried that, have failed. There are some boys who promise to more than one girl that they will marry with them. Today's boys shouldn't be trusted," said Tavga Omer, a 19 year-old third year student at the Geography Department in College of Humanitarian Sciences in Erbil.
Lanja Burhan, another college student, said that she occasionally thinks about marriage, but that she is actually relieved to be single upon her graduation so she saves having to worry about the future of her relationship.
"I really think that in college people shouldn't think about marriage as much,' Burhan said. "It's when you get out of college and you're in the workplace with other people who are married that it needs to start becoming an issue."
Although some students said they can't imagine marrying any of their classmates, many others speculated that graduates may eventually become attracted to each other years after college because they share the common experience of education, or because of the values that drove them both to the college in the first place.
"College graduates are marrying partners with similar education levels, which could be because college-educated men have begun to look for a spouse with high earning power," said Dr. Abdullah Ismail, sociology instructor at the Humanitarian Science College
In Dr. Abdullah's view, marriage should be based on love, experience and mutual understanding which can be built through relationships.
Concerning the boys who promise girls marriage but who ultimately fail to keep their word, Dr. Abdullah said "One thing many boys at colleges think of is crazy love. They only love to get married without thinking if they are prepared for marriage or not. In addition to love and respect, boys need to be financially ready for the process. I have seen boys who intend to get married but they have not a dinar in their pockets if not for the financial support of their parents,"
Sometimes boys are loyal to their promises, but the girls' families demand a lot of gold and dowry which may make the marriages impossible to realize.
Dr. Abdullah asks the government to support young adults in order to get married, by creating job opportunities and providing them with residential units after graduation.