Wedding photo stunt draws attention to child marriage

News|December 9th 2015

A 12 year-old girl has been photographed in a wedding dress next to a much older ‘groom’ to draw attention to the issue of child marriage.

In a stunt arranged by Lebanese secular charity KAFA (enough) Violence & Exploitation, the couple posed for what appeared to be wedding photos by the sea in the Middle Eastern country.

The grey-haired ‘groom’ was approached by several passers-by and while he was congratulated by some, most people who saw them were appalled. One man even threatened to throw him into the sea. A passing woman refused to leave the two alone and repeatedly asked the ‘bride’ where her parents were.

Child marriage is still a significant issue in Lebanon, and this stunt sought to publicise the problem. Yahoo News reports that girls as young as nine years-old have been married off to older husbands with permission from religious groups which still hold considerable influence.

The Lebanese government has begun efforts to reform its marriage laws. Fadi Karam is the secretary general of the National Commission for Lebanese Women. She said that under the current laws, children can marry without their parents’ consent at 14 years-old. However, it is possible to get “an exception from a religious tribunal to allow earlier marriages”.

Last year, children’s charity Plan International staged a fake wedding between a 12 year-old girl and a 37 year-old man. Like KAFA’s photography stunt, this was intended to “mobilise [people] against child marriage”.

According to UNICEF, the number of child marriages has halved in the last 50 years. The international children’s rights organisation claims that the Middle East and North Africa have so far made the fastest progress to eliminate it.

Photo by David Goehring via Flickr

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  1. Andrew says:

    So what should the minimum age be? With parental consent and without parental consent?
    Anyone care to open the bidding?
    Should the courts have any part to play? I have an axe to grind here: my mother was married at 18 in 1944 (when you had to be 21 to marry without consent) – but she was a refugee from Central Europe and her parents were by then dead, although she did not know that for certain until after the War. The magistrates’ court authorised the marriage. Obviously at 18 that would not now arise but it would at 16/17 – should the court be allowed to consent if the parents are dead or cannot be found? What if they say no: is it right that the court should be able to override their veto?

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