The Somali community have accepted secret marriages (qudbo siiro), or elopement(Roor) as it is in reality, have been both common and accepted throughout Somali (Abdullahi 2001,). Such marriages occur without the consent of the family; either because the families do not know about the marriage plans or because they have refused to accept the suitor.
Many cases that happen in this era is that the pride’s family has demanded so much from the groom’s family that caused the two to elope or opt for secret marriages.
Qudbo siiro has caused a lot of girls being disowned by their families because the family got to know late when she has conceived, or maybe she gets married to a foreigner (Ajnaabi). The Somali culture takes pride in the superiority of their clans and thus each family love when their children get married to the clan they desire.
Last year, Jamal Osman a journalist aired a documentary titled “vacation marriages” which showcased the sex tourism where Somali Diaspora men entice women to Qudbo siro and live them with the burden of STIs, family turmoil(disowning), single parenthood and psychological instability.
These vacation husbands give few dollars to girls and thus they fall into the trap.
In as much as Qudbo Siro is a sign of liberation for the couple to choose themselves over their families, it also consequences. Halima, a lady who was in Jamal’s documentary had to resort to working in a brothel to fend for herself and her daughter. Somali well-wishers funded a lifestyle that she now enjoys after the exposé.
There is a lack of statistics, but there may be reason to believe that some of these marriages are entered into between older men and very young girls, and the men eventually leave the girl and evade financial obligations by claiming they were never married. The custom thus opens up the possibility of exploitation of girls and women, who may have difficulty proving they are or have been married.
( By maryan Hajir, Asal media correspondent)
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