SAT 7 - 12 - 2019
Date: Sep 19, 2018
Source: The Daily Star
Majority of Lebanese oppose child marriage, favor law forbidding the practice: study
BEIRUT: The vast majority of Lebanese people opposes child marriage, and most favor the forbidding of the practice by law, according to a poll published by activists Tuesday.

The poll was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and released by the feminist group Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering (RDFL) in partnership with Save the Children’s Lebanese branch, under the framework of the United Nations’ Men and Women for Gender Equality program.

The study, conducted by Statistics Lebanon from March 21 to April 2018, involved face-to-face interviews with 1,200 Lebanese women and men.

Of those surveyed, 84 percent declared opposition to child marriage, and 64 percent favored making the practice illegal.

The study’s authors attributed the discrepancy between the two numbers to a lack of confidence in Lebanon’s legal system.

The study also found that respondents in the 18- to 34-year-old age group were most receptive to a proposed ban on child marriage.

RDFL has spearheaded a campaign to install a legal minimum age for marriage since 2015, when it formed a legal committee to work toward that end. In 2017, the activist group launched the #NotBefore18 media campaign in the presence of activists, journalists and politicians.

RDFL’s proposed law, introduced on March 28, 2017, by then-Bsharri MP Elie Keyrouz and currently being discussed in Parliament, would make 18 the legal minimum age for marriage.

The current legally acceptable marriage age is determined by Lebanon’s 15 personal status laws, which are enforced by various religious community courts, some of which may theoretically recognize brides as young as 14.

Six percent of all Lebanese women aged 20 to 24 first married before turning 18, according to UNICEF’s data for 2017.

UNICEF defines child marriage as any union where at least one of the partners is under 18.

Child marriages pose an especially serious health risk to girls, who may suffer from complications during early pregnancy, the study said.

Such a marriage also frequently “results in their social isolation and low level of education and vocational training. In extreme cases, the practice can involve human trafficking and organized crime, sexual abuse and marital rape,” the study said.

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