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Lebanon, Egypt strive to protect children from early marriage

12-10-2017

The problem of child marriage continues to haunt the Arab communities. The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering (LWDG) launched during a press conference at the Beirut Bar Association yesterday a campaign entitled ‘Yes for a law to protect children from early marriage’. In her address, LWDG chief Leila Mroweh stressed the legal protection against forced child marriage for girls under 18 years, and mentioning risks associated with that, in the forefront of which is the violation of their innocent childhood. For her part, the president of the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) Claudine Aoun Rokuz considered the marriage of minors as a form of white slavery or human trafficking for it constitutes a sexual abuse or exploitation of the underage girl’s body. Rokuz disclosed that the NCLW, in cooperation with the minister of state for women’s affairs and involved civil society group, have decided to continue dialogue with religious leaders and scholars to persuade them to adopt a unified minimum age for marriage which is 18 years for both males and females. She also underlined the importance of national awareness raising cautioning against health risks related to child marriage, as well as campaigns targeting the Legislative in the direction of endorsement of a law that bans the marriage of minors. In the same vein, Al Hayat newspaper brought light to the endemic phenomenon of child marriage in rural Egypt, and in the poor neighborhoods and slums. Nearly 18.3 million persons are married under the age of 18, making up 14% of the total marriages in the North African state annually, Al Hayat reported. These shocking figures prompted the Egyptian President, Abdul Fattah Sisi, to order a survey of the phenomenon and ways to confront it, Al Hayat wrote. (Al Hayat, An Nahar, Al Mustaqbal, October 12, 2017)

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