Monday, July 11, 2016

Stop child marriage in Lebanon

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After its last year’s stunt denouncing child marriage in Lebanon – a stunt that had a worldwide echo but no effect on Lebanese authorities – the NGO KAFA (enough) Violence and Exploitation produced a new powerful video demanding to raise the age of legal marriage in Lebanon. Because let's face it, child marriage means legal child rape, nothing else.

"I can't watch movies rated 18+, but what could happen to me isn't more violent than any movie?" ask the little girls in the video.  This is big question, isn't it? Doesn't child marriage actually mean legal pedophilia and legal child rape? How can something so despicable be acceptable in our society? How can we keep ignoring that gruesome reality?

In Lebanon, the law is not the same for everyone. When it comes to marriage, for example, sectarian “personal status” laws take over. A Lebanese citizen’s “personal status” is linked to his or her religion and sect. And it’s different for each one. In some cases, it’s legal for a man to marry a little girl as young as 9 years old.

“There is no common minimum age of marriage for girls and women across the country", writes Girls Not Brides (a global partnership of more than 600 civil society organizations from over 80 countries committed to ending child marriage) on their website. "Different religious communities have personal status laws that govern legal procedures on matters such as marriage, divorce and inheritance.”

In 1996, one of the concluding observations of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child for Lebanon states: “The Committee notes that despite the fact that the provisions of international treaties to which Lebanon is a party supersede domestic legislation, laws continue to exist which are inconsistent with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and of other international treaties.”

KAFA's new "RA18E THE AGE" campaign, aiming at raising the age of legal marriage to 18 years old for all Lebanese whatever their religion or sect, could be a key to finally stop the unacceptable reality of child marriage in Lebanon.

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