File Photo: Students talk after finishing an exam at a school in Cairo (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt is working with African nations to combat the phenomenon of early marriage for girls, Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Wali said on Monday in a meeting held with African and European ministers on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
According to Wali, 16 percent of Egyptian girls marry before the age of 18. She described the figure as “a high number.”
Attendees included the presidents of Zambia, Uganda, Malawi, and the international cooperation ministers of Holland and Canada.
Wali also presented Egypt's programme for creating a social and economic safety net for families in need of assistance.
She said Egypt is working with African nations to curtail the phenomenon.
Child marriages are common in poor neighbourhoods around Egypt, with some families forcing their teenage daughters to marry older suitors from wealthier countries, mainly in the Arabian Gulf, according to the US State Department’s 2015 Trafficking in Persons report.
In 2015, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi withdrew an objection made by Egypt in 1990 to a provision of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child regarding the child marriage issue.
The article, issued in 1990, reads that minors may not be married or engaged and that African states must take effectual procedures to ban marriage before 18.
Since 2008 it has been illegal to register a marriage in which either party is under the age of 18.