Amina Shafiq, a member of the National Council for Women
Nadia Abou el Magd, Foreign Correspondent, Cairo
Tourism is viewed in Egypt as a positive force, providing jobs and cultural interaction and driving the country’s economy. But a sinister side to the industry has come to the fore again following the launch of a campaign against “marriage tourism”, where a visiting Arab man pays to wed a young Egyptian girl, usually below the legal age of marriage.
The marriages last any amount of time, from a couple of hours to years. Often they are simply a pretext for the man to have sex with the girl legally, while sometimes the man will take the girl back to his country, where they often serve as maids to other wives.
Last week, Moushira Khattab, the new minister of family and population, launched a campaign against underage marriages to Arab tourists in the villages of Cairo’s 6th of October Province, about 40 kilometres south of the city, known for their high levels of poverty and unemployment and where marriage tourism is rife.
A hotline has been set up to provide legal advice to parents who have taken, or are considering taking, money in exchange for temporary marriages of their daughters, as well as to raise awareness about the issue.
“We will raise awareness and tell these people [the parents] that they are violating the law – that actually they are committing a crime,” Mrs Khattab said in a telephone interview with The Home is Yours, Egyptian state TV’s main talk show, last week.
“Poverty is no excuse to sell their daughters. Read more here ...
Source: The National