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EGYPT CONTINUES FIGHT AGAINST UNDERAGE MARRIAGE, SCHOOL DROPOUTS

Bikya Masr - February 16, 2010 by Mohamed Abdel Salam Cairo - The Egyptian Minister of State for Family and Population, Moshira Khattab, stressed in statements to local newspapers during the signing of a new protocol that there was an increase in the number of births recorded in the third quarter of 2009 compared to the same quarter of 2008, with a change of 0.3 percent. She said that the customary, non-legal, marriages contributed to the increase in population overgrowth, as this type of marriage “contributes to the existence of street children and child labor, which increases the burden of population issues, in addition to being a circumvention of the law where the contract is ratified and then to marry the girl after reaching the specified age,” the minister said. She added that it is also a cause of the increase in mortality rates for mothers and children. Khattab explained that the most important reasons for customary marriage is to avoid the conditions of the legal age for marriages, which in Egypt is 18-years-old, and the financial status of the families of these girls. She called on the families of these young girls who marry their daughters off to foreigners, Westerners or Arabs, in return for receiving money, “to protect their daughters and refrain from marrying them off for money and at this early age.” She added that if they are in great need for money, they can resort to the ministry, which would try to provide them their basic needs, revealing that there are some Egyptian businessmen who “are ready and willing to provide financial aid to such families.” Khattab pointed out that fighting against school dropouts is one of the effective ways to eliminate many of the problems that Egyptian society faces, such as child labor, street children as well as underage marriage. “This is aimed at improving the lives families and their children,” she said. She added that the ministry introduced the issue of overpopulation in all of its programs and projects being implemented currently in areas where the initiative of teaching young girls is being implemented and making the targeted groups aware of the seriousness of the increase of population and reproductive health and how to prevent diseases.





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