Marriage with the mind, not the body

In mid October 2022, Edraak Foundation for Development and Equality (EFDE) launched a campaign entitled. #MarriageWithTheMindNotTheBody, to open a societal discussion about the widespread crime of “child marriage” which is widely supported by the Egyptian society. Such support has reflected into the delay of issuing a law that explicitly criminalizes the phenomenon and condemns those involved.

Background:

As a part of its social responsibility to combat “child marriage” crime in Egypt, Edraak Foundation for Development and Equality (EFDE) launched the “#MarriageWithTheMindNotTheBody” campaign.

The campaign aims at forming a social public opinion in favor of legislation to criminalize such a crime and to establish effective executive mechanisms to protect girls and their rights.

The end of 2021 witnessed the first legislative move when MP “Enas Abdel Halim” introduced the first clear and explicit legislation criminalizing child marriage. Despite the importance of this legislation to contribute to confronting such a crime, it grabbed attention only in April 2022, after the government approved a draft law submitted by it to the Egyptian parliament on child marriage criminalization.

The first half of the following year (2022) witnessed a wide movement, as the Parliament showed positive steps by referring a number of draft laws submitted by a number of MPs to criminalize child marriage for discussion, such as the draft law submitted by MP “Amira Al-Adly” which criminalizes forcing children to marry with penalties for those involved. In addition, the draft law of MP “Bilal Al-Baroulsi” which aggravate the penalties for anyone who incites the commission of the child marriage crime, as well as the one submitted by MP “Suhair Abdel Hamid” regarding the legal capacity to marry.

The parliamentary movements coincided with the foundation’s efforts towards criminalizing child marriage. Through its campaign, the foundation sought to unify societal efforts in order to issue legislation criminalizing child marriage in Egypt which is is one of the most important decisive factors in confronting this crime. In addition, the campaign shedd a light on the social legacies and religious justifications that help to understand the reasons for the rooting of child marriage in society, in addition to highlighting the efforts of civil society and governmental councils that have been made over the years to combat this crime.

Campaign activities:

The campaign included a round table titled “Joint action and strengthening the efforts for criminalizing child marriage legislation” which was attended by a number of parliament members who submitted draft laws to criminalize child marriage, in addition to representatives of development agencies in Egypt and a number of civil society practitioners who are interested in women’s and children’s issues, as well as representatives of a number of judicial and medical governmental bodies.

The foundation also issued a legal paper titled “Towards an effective move to issue a law to criminalize child marriage,” by Dr. Moataz Abu Zaid, Vice President of the Egyptian State Council and Public Law Lecturer.

Additionally, we were keen on engaging other initiatives and organizations to work on the campaign such as “Love Matters” and “Your Voice”.

We held a number of discussion sessions via Zoom with a number of decision-makers, parliament and Senate members, social media influencers, in addition to a number of fellows working in civil society organizations, government research centers, and psychiatrists.

Believing in the importance of unifying efforts to work on such issues, we highlighted the influential campaigns recently carried out by other organizations, such as the #Not_Before_18 campaign, the Egyptian Women Lawyers Initiative’s Campaign and New Woman Foundation’s Campaign.

Moreover, we documented the cases of child marriage monitored by the “Gender-Based Violence Crime Observatory” in 2021, that ended with the murder of the victim, child or marriage disownment.

The campaign also included a number of written articles, and was concluded with an article by journalist “Esra Saleh”, titled “How do minor girls learn about marital sexual relations?” that was published on “Al Manassa” platform where it received great interaction and various feedbacks.

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