Reforming religious discourse would curb early marriage in Egypt: Egyptian human rights group

Ahram Online , Monday 28 Mar 2022

Reforming religious discourse in Egypt would play an important role in curbing the early marriages of girls, as the personal status laws in the country are based on religious regulations, not on the civil code, an Egyptian human rights group said on Sunday.

child marriage

The Cairo-based Forum for Development and Human Rights Dialogue (FDHRD) issued on Sunday a report called ‘Early marriage of underage girls in Egypt and renewing religious discourse,’ discussing the early marriage problem in the country and religion’s role in it.

According to the report, religion, whether Islam or Christianity, plays an important role in underage marriage, as the registration of the marriage contract require an authorised Mazun (Sheikh) or a priest from the church.

And according to some misconceptions, Muslim and Christin clergy believe the suitable age for marriage for girls to be after puberty, from 13 to 19 years old, and so some of them agree to register marriage contracts for underage girls, according to the report.

The legal age for marriage in Egypt is 18 years old.

The FDHRD mentioned that according to estimates, no less than 117,000 underage girls get married annually in the country, but the real number could be three times as high.

It also mentioned that early marriages have caused a number of consequences including a surge in the divorce rates in Egypt as well as an increase in population.

The NGO added that the economic conditions, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, have made Egyptian families in rural areas force their underage girls into early marriage.

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