Egypt moves toward criminalizing child marriage

Many parents in rural Egypt feel no obligation to educate their daughters and instead seek to marry them off early; rights advocates want to put an end to the harmful tradition.

Image by Hugo Goodridge/Al-Monitor

Azza Abdel Hamid Ezzat is in her early 20s but has already given birth four times. Ten years ago when she reached puberty, her father decided it was time she got married; he gave her away to the first suitor who came knocking on their door. It mattered little to him that the prospective groom was in his mid-30s at the time (more than twice Azza’s age) or that the bride-to-be had never actually met him.

“I was only 12 at the time, and he’d spotted me buying cookies from a small kiosk at the end of our street. When my father told me I had a suitor, I was excited about wearing a long, white dress and wanted to be a bride like the celebrity brides I’d seen in films and

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