Head of Cairo Appeal Court Abdullah Al-Baga stated on Saturday that the Egyptian law does not include any article that stipulates punishing fathers who violate approved marriage age of their daughters.
During a TV interview with the privately-run TV channel of Sada El-Balad, Al-Baga noted that reports that have circulated recently on a 7-year jail sentence against fathers who proved to violate the legal age of marriage for girls was not true.
“The punitive measure for murder is only three years in jail, so how come the punitive measure against marriage under the legal age would be seven years?” Al-Baga pointed out.
He further stressed that following strict punitive measures against fathers who violate the legal age of marriage would lead to the increase of this phenomenon, as they [fathers] would resort to ‘secret marriages’ known in Egypt ‘Zawag El Orfeai’.
A recent draft law, proposed by MP Ahmed Samih, to lower the minimum legal marriage age for girls from 18 years to 16, has resulted in massive criticism over young girls’ physical health and consequent marginalization in society.
Indicators prove that 80 percent of girls aged 16 in rural and heavily populated urban districts marry with parental consent, even though they are aware of the illegality, said Samih, adding that his draft law aims to solve various problems that girls face who marry at a young age.
Despite international agreements and national laws, underage marriage is common worldwide and affects millions of girls, both physically and psychologically.
In Egypt, nearly 36 percent of marriages in remote areas and southern Egypt include a partner under the age of 18, according to studies by the National Council for Women.