For some Syrian women, refugee life proves unexpectedly liberating
BAR ELIAS, Lebanon — Samar Hijazi stood in front of the judge of the Sunni sharia court in this Bekaa Valley village last month as he addressed her in rapid-fire bursts from behind an imposing desk.
“This is against God’s will,” he said. “If you divorce, you’ll have problems with your children. God will be against you. God won’t bless you. Will you reconsider?”
“No,” she said firmly.
The judge pronounced her divorced. Just like that, Hijazi, 45, was freed from a 33-year marriage to a man she described as abusive and domineering. The refugee from Syria’s war had long wished for such an ending, but it had never seemed possible in her old life. That changed when the family fled to Lebanon two years ago. With shelter and food provided by aid organizations, she was less dependent on her husband. And as she began making decisions for the family and venturing out of the house alone, she felt, for the first time, self-sufficient.
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