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An attempt to eliminate marriages among minors in Lebanon

BEIRUT | - February 11, 2014, 18h30
Par Laura Hamade
On Tuesday March 4th, 2014 on the occasion of the International Woman’s Day, the National Commission for Lebanese Women (NCLW) will launch a campaign to protect minors from early marriage. The campaign will take place in collaboration with the Women’s Institute and the Arab Women Studies’ Center at the Lebanese American University (LAU). We took a closer look at an issue that is more frequent than you think in Lebanon.
Not only is it disturbing to hear that Eva was kidnaped, raped, and stripped of her dignity, when she was coerced into marrying her kidnapper’s 27 year old son, but the mere fact that she hadn’t even turned 13 makes the news even more terrifying. Eva, barely a teenager, who is guilty of having Dora the Explorer posters on her bedroom door, did not have her father’s consent prior to the marriage.

This is just one of many incidents related to marriage of minors in Lebanon. Unfortunately, the list is endless. Out of 77 Palestinian girls interviewed in south Lebanon by Nabaa NGO, some 46.75 percent of 17 year olds and around 32 percent of 16 year olds were already married.

“Our first step is to complete lengths of research. With the help of lawyers and judges, we have compiled a literature review for our viewers about the negative consequences that married minors have and most probably will continue to face, and how Lebanon is failing to protect women,” Rita Chemaly, NCLW’s consultant on project development, told us.

This campaign is set to be passed on a national level with great support and in collaboration with the Arab Women’s Studies Center at LAU. Due to the tremendous increase of Syrian and Palestinian refugees in all areas of Lebanon, marriage among minors is becoming more common. Maybe the minors are in search of security and financial stability, but most naïve individuals are unaware of the potential consequences, and this issue must be controlled. This is what they are aiming to do during the campaign. Videos will be shown during the launching of this campaign in accordance to depict the severity of the issue though genuine experiences.

According to the UNICEF report in 2012 on the developing countries, nearly one out of every four girls between the ages of 15 and 19 had married or would marry , which means more than one third of women aged 20-24 were married by age 18. In the Arab countries, it was found that one out of every seven girls would marry before the age of 18. Following a brief presentation about the minimum age for marriage in some countries, a study published in 2010, found that in Lebanon, the legal age of marriage varies from one sect to another, but it usually ranges from 15-18 years. Technically, the judge could allow Sunni or Shiite marriage of girls at age nine, but this rarely occurs anymore.

Lebanese marriage laws require the girl’s father’s consent unless she has met two conditions: puberty and maturity. While some young women offer their consent in early marriage, they often lack the maturity and prior knowledge of the consequences brought upon them and on society as a whole. “Many women that get married as minors, drop out of school and lack the required knowledge and experience to work and help support the family,” shared Rita Chemaly. “Infant mortality is also an issue,” she added, “pregnancy can be problematic at such a young age, both for the child and the mother.”

“The girl may also feel psychologically stressed and unhappy due to the burden she places on her in-laws and the uncomfortable pressure they put on her,” she concluded.
#Minor_marriage, #Women_rights, #KAFA
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