Egypt has issued a new law that attempts to protect the financial rights of Egyptian women and tackle the issue of child marriage. Justice Minister Ahmed El Zend decreed on Tuesday that if the age difference between a foreigner and an Egyptian girl is more than 25 years, then he can only marry her if he gives her an investment certificate worth 50,000 LE.
“While I believe that this law will provide insurance [for Egyptian women], I still believe this is not enough to eliminate child marriage. There have to be some kind of guarantees,” women’s right advocate Azza Kamel said, explaining that the law covers “specific cases only”.
The new law comes in a time when, unfortunately in Egypt, the rate of child marriages has risen to a staggering 15% despite the legal age of marriage being 18.
The decree requires the 50,000 LE payment to be deposited in a National Bank of Egypt account in her name with an interest rate of 12.75%. The idea, it seems, is to discourage future suitors with a “fine”, and that the bride would be protected financially if her husband chooses to leave her.
According to case studies by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM), “Arab marriages” are facilitated by a child’s parents or a broker, who arranges a marriage between a foreigner, usually from the Gulf, and a poor Egyptian girl who is typically 16 or younger, for a certain amount of money. The child brides are later deserted, the NCCM says.
Last month, Egyptian president Abd El Fattah el Sisi removed an objection made by Egypt in 1990 on a provision of the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child that states that African states should take effective measures to make sure that minors are not married before the age of 18.
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