The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) has stopped two attempts to marry off two girls less than 16 years of age during Eid al-Adha, the Muslim sacrificial feast that was celebrated last week—feast days are popular times for holding weddings in rural Egypt. One of the girls came from Alexandria, and the other from the mid-Delta province of Gharbiya.
According to Sahar al-Sonbaty, Secretary-General of the NCCM, the Council’s child helpline 16000 had on 17 April received a notification that a 15-year-girl who lives with her family in Alexandria would be married off by her father to a 24-year-old young man.
The NCCM, which is legally responsible for taking necessary measures to prevent marriages of children below 18, the youngest age for marriage according to the Egyptian Constitution and law, instantly referred the complaint to the Childhood Protection Committee in Alexandria, to advise the girl’s family about the harms and child marriage. Her father had to signed a pledge that, as the girl’s guardian, he would not let her marry before she turns 18, the legal age for marriage.
However, on the second day of Eid al-Adha, the child helpline was notified that the father had taken his daughter to his hometown of Abu- Hommus in the west Delta province of Beheira to marry her off away from the NCCM’s watchful eye. The girl’s father was found, and again signed a pledge that his daughter would not marry till she was 18. Legally, the girl had to be taken from the custody of her parents and placed in a social care home but, since she objected to that, she was handed to her paternal uncle following all legal assurances of her well being.
The second complaint, received on 10 July from Gharbiya, informed of plans for a 16-year-old girl to marry a 26-year-old man. The matter was referred to the Childhood Protection Committee in Gharbiya, which directly took action, making both the father and groom sign pledges to halt the marriage till the girl was of age.
Dr Sunbati expressed her thanks and appreciation to the prosecutor-general, and to all the relevant local authorities for their cooperation and prompt action.
For details on Egypt’s policy on child marriage:
25 July 2021