Marriage a distant dream for many in Mosul
Mosul - Suitors are finding it increasingly hard to save enough cash to fund a dowry and a wedding.
Khulud yearns to be swept away by a "prince charming", but like many young Iraqis in the former militant stronghold of Mosul she worries she may never marry.
"I haven't found a husband or a job - my life consists of household chores," says the 24-year-old university graduate, who feels increasingly trapped in her parents' home.
"My older sister, who is 37, already has four children... I still perhaps have a chance to find a husband, but my 29-year-old sister has much less hope," Khulud adds, a sad smile marking the corners of her mouth.
Suitors are finding it increasingly hard to save enough cash to fund a dowry and a wedding, never mind set up home with a spouse.
Mumen Abdallah also dreams of marriage. "I have a degree in economics, but this hasn't helped me realise my dream," says the 38-year-old, one of a crowd of men lounging on a cafe terrace.
Manaf Khaled, a 32-year-old social worker, says a woman's marriage prospects can depend on her employment.
"Many men prefer to marry a woman who works and contributes to household expenses," she says.
Some couples are even relying on charity. At a function room in Mosul, hundreds of people - the guests from 10 wedding parties - tuck into a communal meal.
Mohammed Sami, a 27-year-old blacksmith who is among the grooms, says he is just happy to be here, despite not being able to afford a suit for himself or a wedding dress for his wife.
"Unemployment and the long interruption to salaries has prevented very many young people who want to start a family from marrying," Ashraf Ismail, who works in women's protection, says.
In a bid to unblock the bottleneck, lawmaker Jamila Al Obeidi has been pushing a novel proposal in Iraq's parliament.
She wants the government "to provide five million dinars ($4,000) to every man wishing to marry, then a million dinars for each child born", she says. But there are strings attached. "The proposed wife must be older than the 'normal' marriage age, divorced, or a war widow," she says.