How A Former Child Bride Got A Fatwa Against Child Marriage

It happened in Senegal last week, at a conference organized by young Africans to address the issues of child marriage and female genital mutilation. Here's the story behind the fatwa.
Saleh Abbas, deputy grand imam of Egypt's Al-Azhar University, is second from the left in this photo of members of the university delegation to the African Summit on Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriages. Source: Louis Leeson

Jaha Dukureh was having breakfast with her friends when the idea came to her. She wanted Muslim clerics to deliver a fatwa against child marriage – a religious opinion issued by one or more Islamic legal scholars.

It was June 18, the last day of the African Summit on Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriages in Dakar, Senegal. Dukureh, a Gambian women's rights activist and founder of the nonprofit Safe Hands for Girls, was the chief organizer of the event.

It was a challenge to get the summit off the ground.

"We didn't have a lot of resources to to . Even though child marriage is against the law in most countries and considered by the United Nations, many communities still consider it a part of religious or cultural tradition.

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