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Child marriage in Egypt: Stop child marriage.

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Child marriage refers to children who get married before reaching the age of 18 years, following the definition of a child as agreed in the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and adopted by Egypt. The Egyptian Child Law of 2008 sets the minimum age of marriage at 18 years for both females and males. Despite the legislation, child marriage is still being practiced in some regions of the country. According to the Egypt Census of 2017, child marriage remains an issue. In Egypt, nearly 1 in every 20 girls (4%) between age 15 to 17 years and 1 in every 10 (11%) adolescent girls 15-19 years are either currently married or were married before, with large differentials between the rural and urban residence. Although the overall prevalence of child marriage has not significantly im-proved, it shows substantial decline among the younger age groups. For women in the 20-24 age bracket, getting married before age 18, has dropped from 3 out of 10 women born between 1965 and 1969, compared to 2 out of 10 women born between 1990 and 1994.

Background

  1. The legal age of marriage registration in Egypt is set at 18 years. Yet, without criminalizing the perpetrators, girls are still get-ting married without registering or reporting their marriages, or registering their children born out of these marriages.
  2. Girls who marry before the age of 18 experience negative implications on their health, education, participation in the labor market and are at risk of contracting diseases.
  3. Child marriage not only affects the girls’ wellbeing, but also negatively affects the country with evident implications on higher fertility rates, health risks on the children and their mothers due to premature childbearing.
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Determinants

education

Education is an important determinant since it plays a role of both cause and effect of the practice of child marriage. Dropping out of the education system increases the risk of child marriage. Even though dropping out of education might not be primarily to get married, it promotes the families to see marriage as the best option for the girl while she is idle.   The act of child marriage also results in curtailing education for children as it restricts them from pursuing further education after getting married.

economic condition

Economic condition of the household also has a bearing on child marriage. Many times, marrying the daughter early is used as a mean to reduce the economic burden of the family and to improve their economic condition. Evidence show that even though the median age at first marriage is lower among adolescents from the lower wealth quintiles, adolescents from the middle wealth households show the highest prevalence of child marriage (about 25%).

social norm

Social norms and inequitable gender norms play an important role in child marriage, affecting the wellbeing, educational attainment and exposure to harmful practices, such as Female Genital Mutilation, for the adolescent girls.  The phenomenon is not exclusive to a particular religion but runs deep in Egyptian culture.

Egypt Seeks to Criminalize Child MarriageCairo – Asharq Al-Awsat

Egyptian lawmakers have sought to expedite legislative measures to criminalize child marriage and tighten penalties to deter violators. MP Enas Abdel Halim said she finished preparing a bill to amend some provisions of the Penal Code to increase the punishment for underage marriage. The bill, which she will submit to parliament, sets the appropriate age for girls to marry. She added that the constitution criminalizes marriage of girls under the age of 18. Even though the marriage of minors violates the constitution, laws and international treaties, there is no punishment for those who are married to minors or facilitated such a union, she remarked. Therefore, “the proposed amendments includes imposing stricter penalties for this act to limit and address the phenomenon, which threatens national security”. Earlier this week, President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi vowed to speed up efforts to bar child marriage in the country. During an event marking Mother’s Day on Sunday, he warned of the growing phenomenon and stressed that girls under 12 should not be expected to be responsible for household chores and raising a family. The parliament must urgently take the necessary measures to pass the child marriage restraint bill as a separate law that stipulates explicitly the legal age of marriage, he stressed. Sisi cited data by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) that revealed that many girls have been married by the age of 12.According to the Agency’s 2019 statistics on early marriage, 117,220 Egyptians were married under the age of 18.