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Egypt: New child marriage laws threaten girls

Girls in school, Egypt

Early marriage often deprives girls of their right to an education

3 May 2012: Plan is deeply concerned at new proposals by the Egyptian parliament to reduce the legal age for girls to marry to 14 – just 4 years after a successful campaign increased the age limit to 18.

Early marriage can have a devastating impact on girls’ lives – they are more likely to be forced out of school, live in poverty, have early pregnancies and endure health complications or die during childbirth.

Legal protection

Ayman Zadek, Plan’s programme area manager in Assiut, Egypt, said: “Plan Egypt strongly promotes child rights and according to the Child Rights Convention, any person under 18 is considered a child. Plan Egypt was actively involved in the process of amending the country’s Child Law in 2008, when the legal marriage age was increased to 18.

“Despite the improvements on the law, early marriage is still a widespread social phenomenon in Egypt. Plan Egypt, through its programmes and involvement in the Child Protection Network, continues to advocate against this issue.”

Staggering global problem

If Egypt’s parliament goes ahead with the move it will contribute to an already staggering global problem: more than 100 million girls under 18 across the world are expected to marry in the next decade.

“Exposing young girls to marriage has a very negative impact on their physical and psychological health. It reduces their chances to complete an education and negatively impacts their ability to participate at the economic and social levels," adds Zadek.

“Plan Egypt will continue to advocate for the enforcement of the current Child Law - where marriage is not allowed for any child under 18 years old.”

Girls campaign

Ending child marriage around the world is a main priority of Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign, which will be launched globally on 11 October - the first International Day of the Girl Child.

Join Plan’s Because I am a Girl campaign

Read about Plan’s gender and empowerment programme in Egypt