Policy for Action: Ending Child Marriage

01-07-2018 06:58 PM

Georgette Sadeq

Policy for Action: Ending Child Marriage

The legal age for marriage in Egypt is 18.

Child marriage refers to children who get married before reaching that age.

According to Egypt’s National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) in its National Policy Brief on “Ending Child Marriage”, the national census of 2017 reveals that nearly one I n every 20 girls aged between 15 and 17 are either currently or have been previously married. “This is a crucial issue for millions of young girls,” the NCCM says in its brief, “since it deeply affects their lives and their future.”

The policy brief on ‘Ending Child Marriage’ was released last week. It is part of a series of policy briefs titled “Policy for Action” conducted in partnership with the United Nations Children Fund UNICEF and supported by the European Union EU in Egypt.

On its website, UNICEF confirms that it

is impossible to tackle properly an issue if it is not documented. The ‘Policy for Action’ series aims at bringing evidence closer to decision makers for the realisation of child-wellbeing through better-informed policy decisions and implementation. The policy brief series adopts an integrated approach and covers broad areas of policy work related to child protection, health and overall wellbeing.

“Child Marriage denies millions of girls their childhood each year”, said Azza al-Ashmawy, Secretary General of NCCM. “It is widespread and can lead to a lifetime of disadvantage and deprivation. Without far more intensive and sustained action from all parts of the society, hundreds of millions more girls will suffer profound, permanent, and utterly unnecessary harm. This is why this policy brief is crucial, because it address an issue facing children in Egypt, and emphasises the urgency of tackling it through a call for action.

“Child marriage is a violation of the rights of girls and women. Girls who are married as children are more likely to be out of school, suffer domestic violence, contract HIV/AIDS and die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth. It 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.”

The policy brief reveals that even though the legal age of marriage in Egypt is set at 18 years, girls are still getting married without registering or reporting their marriages, or registering their children born out of these marriages. This takes place without prosecuting the perpetrators.

The determinants of child marriage in Egypt are related to education, erroneous concepts of protection of girls and women, and harmful societal and behavioral norms. Eliminating the practice requires reducing poverty, developing proper reporting mechanisms, accessing quality educational service, ensuring safe spaces for girls, and changing harmful social and behavioral norms. The brief highlights the trends in child marriage, determinants, impacts and proposes a number of policy recommendations.

Watani International

1 July 2018

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