Egyptian TV Series Spotlights Child Marriage

Republished from

The new Egyptian television series “Al-Qasirat” (Minors) is taking a hard look at the problems of child marriage, which is still prevalent in parts of Egypt and a number of Arab countries.

Young child bride

Photo courtesy Al-Qasirat media office

The MBC series, which began at the start of Ramadan, includes some realistic and shocking scenes, said Cairo University psychology professor and family relations consultant Waliyuddine Mukhtar.

It condemns the “reactionary ideas prevalent in many societies that treat females as mere commodities to be bought and sold”, he told Al-Shorfa.

The practice of underage marriage is widespread in Upper Egypt and in other parts of the country, he said.

In some cases, young girls are temporarily married to wealthy older men or foreigners for a designated period of time, particularly during the summer vacation.


The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) defines child marriage as a formal marriage or informal union that takes place before the age of 18. According to a 2010 UNICEF report, 18% of the female population in the Middle East and Africa are married before this age.

Underage marriage has spread “under the guise of religion” in Yemen, SaudiArabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it is misrepresented as an application of sharia, Mukhtar said.

Poverty and illiteracy also contribute significantly to its spread, he said.

Egypt’s Ministry of Family and Population put the number of underage marriage cases in 2011 at 150,000, or 11% of all marriages in Egypt that year, Mukhtar said.

“Al-Qasirat” star Salah al-Saadani told the Middle East News Agency that the series’ boldness in confronting the issue compelled him to accept the role, though he knew some might find its scenes and events shocking.

What most interested him was the realistic portrayal of the issue, he said, explaining that the series is set in an Egyptian village where a wealthy man exploits poor families in order to marry their daughters.


“Underage marriage is illegal and a crime against humanity that is being committed in the name of sharia,” said Al-Azhar University sharia and law professor Sheikh Nayef Abd Rabbu, who serves as an advisor at the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

“Egyptian law, which stems from sharia, prohibits the marriage of girls under the age of 18,” he said.

There is a common belief that Islam legalises child marriage, though this is an explicit distortion of religious texts and the hadith, as it is actually old customs and traditions that drive these marriages, Abd Rabbu said.

“Islam stipulates safeguarding the rights of women in marriage,” he said. “In the case of minors, their rights in marriage are slim to non-existent. Sharia legislators agree that a marriage must be entered into with an intention of continuance, and that it not be a temporary contract, as it is in many of these cases.”

Under Egyptian law, which prohibits exploiting children in any form, forcing a girl into marriage is a punishable offense, said Fayez Shukr of the Egyptian Ministry of Justice’s department of legislative studies and research.

Additionally, he told Al-Shorfa, under a 2008 child law, “no marriage contract shall be authenticated if either party has yet to attain the full age of 18 years”.


Dr. Fahim Farhan, a gynaecologist and obstetrician, said he follows the television series with interest.

It is one of the “most important works shedding light on this blight in Arab societies, and in Egypt in particular”, he said.

Underage marriage exposes girls to numerous health and psychological problems, including infertility, miscarriage, preeclampsia, anaemia and premature childbirth, he said, noting that there is a rising incidence of death among these girls and their babies.

“Al-Qasirat” is directed by Magdi Abu Emera, written by Samah el-Hariri and stars al-Saadani, Dalia al-Buhairi, Yasser Galal, Menna Arafa, Malak Ahmed Zaher and May al-Gheiti.

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Every Three Seconds, A Girl is Traded as a Swara

Swara is a child marriage custom in tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan. This custom is tied to blood feuds among the different tribes and clans where the young girls are forcibly married to the members of different clans in order to resolve the feuds. It is most common among Pashtuns. – Wikipedia.

The average age of swara girls is between 5 and 9-years-old, according to registered cases and local accounts. The reason provides an insight into the immense challenge in changing deep-rooted traditions in Pakistan: In tribal areas, a girl older than this is probably already promised to somebody else.

In Pakistan, at least 180 cases of swara were reported last year — every other day — thanks to the work of local journalists and activists. But there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of undocumented cases. Worldwide, an estimated 51 million girls below age 18 are married, according to the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

A further 10 million underage girls marry every year — one every three seconds, according to ICRW. The legal age to marry in Pakistan is 18 for boys but 16 for girls, though they can’t drive, vote, or open a bank account until adulthood. According to UNICEF, 70 percent of girls in Pakistan are married before then.

Swara FeatureMohammad Ayub, a British-trained psychiatrist from Lahore, has worked with child soldiers in Sudan and young Taliban recruits in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He now manages the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the Swat Valley, an area that came under the spotlight when terrorists attempted to kill 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai because of her struggle to promote girls’ education. “I saw small children holding guns bigger than themselves,” he says. “But these girls…. It’s just as tragic.”

Many child brides come to Ayub with severe pain, sometimes blinded or paralyzed — the effects of a psychiatric condition known as “conversion disorder.” Practically unknown in the West since the beginning of the 20th century, it has reached epidemic proportions in the tribal areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to Ayub. It is a sort of psychological stress that manifests in physical ailments, including convulsions, paralysis, or fits.

“Here women don’t have a voice, particularly girls,” Ayub says. “She can’t say, ‘No, I don’t want this marriage’ … so she keeps it all inside, and eventually it will come out in the form of some physical distress. We receive loads of women here, three to four cases with the same symptoms every day only in my clinic, and I mean daily! Thirteen-, 14-year-old girls, all married.”

The rise of Islamic militancy in Pakistan could only make things worse. As extremists grow more powerful, they have started imposing their own draconian rules on society — including even more discrimination against women.

In 2004, the Pakistani parliament passed an amendment to Pakistan’s penal code making swara a crime punishable by up to ten years in prison. Since then, around sixty decisions made by jirgas involving swara girls have been prevented by local courts, though in most tribal areas the law still does not apply.

Part of this story was re-published from Foreign Policy. The original article was written by Adriana Carranca. Follow her on Twitter: @AdrianaCarranca.

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Militants Massacre 14 Female Students On School Bus

Last October, people across the globe united to send thoughts of hope and love to a brave young girl fighting for her life in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Taliban tried to assassinate Malala Yousafzai because of her strong voice in the fight for women’s rights and youth education. Their gunmen boarded her school bus and shot in front of her peers — but Malala survived and she hasn’t stopped fighting.

Over the weekend, 14 young female students were massacred as a bus taking them home from university in Quetta, in western Pakistan, was blown up by extremist militants — and we were once again reminded of the continued need to stand behind Malala and her cause.

I stand with Malala

Photo by A World at School

On July 12 — less than a year after she was attacked — Malala will mark her 16th birthday by speaking at the UN. She’ll be delivering, to the highest leadership of the UN, a set of education demands written for youth, by youth.

Join me in supporting Malala and for girls’ education. Please sign this letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pledging your support to her cause — it takes just one click.

Dear Mr Secretary-General,

I stand with Malala in demanding that the leaders of the world end our global Education Emergency. After the recent violent murder of 14 girls in Pakistan who simply wanted an education, I support the civil rights struggle of 57 million girls and boys who will not go to school today — or any day. Side by side with Malala, we demand that at the United Nations General Assembly world leaders agree to fund the new teachers, schools and books we need — and to end child labor, child marriage and child trafficking — so that by December 2015 we meet the Millennium Development promise that every boy and girl be at school.

We must be united in this fight, and we must act now. Thank you for standing with us.

We want Malala to take the UN floor with the support of as many of us as possible. Please sign this letter now — for Malala, and for all the children she fights for:

Thank you for supporting this cause with me. Every signature really does make a difference!

Children of War

Edited by @GillianFx

The real sufferers of war are women and children. This article deals with the children affected by war. Children are left orphaned if their parents are killed, maimed or taken, if they are “lucky” enough to survive they have to fend for themselves, leaving them susceptible to sexual and physical abuse, trafficking and poverty.

_65156814_afghan1Last winter, more than 100 children died in the cold weather in the numerous refugee camps that surround the Afghan capital. Over 10,000 displaced people flock to the Qambar refugee camp on the outskirts of Kabul. The irony here is that the camp is located less than 20km (12 miles) from the presidential palace, the US embassy, NATO headquarters and the Offices of International Organizations overseeing billions of dollars in aid to the country.

Minister of Refugees and Repatriations Jamaher Anwari says the government is doing all it can to help.

Afghanistan has received $58bn (£36bn) in aid over the past 10 years, at least $3.5bn (£2.17bn) of which was in humanitarian aid. UN High Commissioner for Refugees Protection Officer Douglas DI Salvo told the BBC that the country continues to be challenged by conflict, poverty and lack of development.

Recently the people of Camp Qambar had to endure another tragedy, a four-year-old girl named Sabeah from Helmand province died as a result of the harsh winter.

She was the second child to die in the space of a week.

“We are relying on God and good luck to survive this winter,” said one refugee.

My opinion: Where is most of the money going? Shouldn’t most of the money go towards protecting the nation’s most valuable resources… the children? If this was a corporate business in the US or UK it would surely be investigated. To me it seems that the country is challenged as much by corruption as it is by conflict.

Northern Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) is a hotbed of violence. Residents blame the Pakistan military and the Taliban in equal measure for reducing the education system to rubble. The Taliban’s intolerance of any kind of “modern” education, which they believe to be “anti-Islamic”, coupled with the destruction or occupation of scores of school buildings for military purposes, has robbed tens of thousands of children of their right to decent schooling. Their campaign has left 12,000 children idle, including more than 3,800 girls.

My opinion: Human trafficking is in the spotlight these days. Prevention starts with protecting the vulnerable.

Source: BBC News, Guardian UK