Egyptian MP proposes lowering marital age for girls

Egyptian MP proposes lowering marital age for girls
An Egyptian MP has sparked anger after he called to lower the marital age for girls from 18 to 16, so that those in rural areas could marry legally.
3 min read
16 August, 2017
Egyptian MP Ahmed Samih [Youtube]

An Egyptian MP has sparked anger after calling on the legal age for girls to get married to be lowered.

Ahmed Samih drafted a proposed law which would lower the marital age of girls from 18 years old to 16, according to Al-Ahram.

"Statistics show that 80 percent of girls aged 16 in rural and densely populated urban districts marry with parental consent, even though they are aware that this marriage is illegal," he said, adding that his proposed law aims to solve problems that those girls often face. 

The notion could be especially dangerous in Egypt where young marriages are not often by choice, but by pressure from families.

Samih also claimed the law will bring Egyptian law closer to Islamic Sharia law.

The MP's legislative proposal faced the backlash of fellow MPs who labeled it "regressive".

"The 45-member parliamentary bloc titled Egypt's Bloc of Female MPs described Samih's draft law as 'a disaster,'" Al Ahram wrote. 

MP Margret Azer said the government's job is to "stand against this trend" rather than to legalise it. 

Social media reactions

Egyptians fought back at the proposal with a Twitter hashtag that translates to "no to lowering the legal marital age".

Translation: to the person who proposed this draft, you are destroying the life of a child who deserves a chance at life. You are also destroying society.

There were calls for the MP to be thrown in prison:

Translation: whoever came up with this law should be thrown into prison
Translation: it's not just you who should be condemned, it's the fault of those who elected you to be in your position to begin with

Others said this will only serve a "sick form of masculinity":

Translation: reducing the marital age will exploit those in under-developed areas and risks a form of unregulated prostitution that only seeks to serve a sick form of masculinity

The draft was also criticised for stunting the personal development of girls, trapping them in dependancy on others and potentially abuse: