A video has been widely shared on social media of two 12-year-old primary school pupils from Ain Shams in Egypt getting married.
According to local media, after footage of the ceremony circulated online, security forces arrested the parents of the two children, who have been named as Sama and Combo.
Egypt has the thirteenth highest number of child brides in the world. According to Girls Not Brides, child marriage is in part driven by gender inequality. In 2017 UNICEF said that 17 per cent of girls in Egypt are married before their 18th birthday.
Despite the fact that Egypt has ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which stipulates 18 should be the legal age for marriage, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which says marriage should be undertaken with free and full consent, child marriage continues.
Rights groups have said that Egypt needs to be tougher on criminalising child marriage. Often, neither the groom nor the parents of the child bride are charged, which has led to an increase in the practice.
It has been reported that men from the Gulf have come to Egypt to choose child brides, sometimes just for a day, in what has become known as “summer marriages”.
The men pay the child bride’s family a large amount of money.
In 2013 Egypt’s Child Anti-Trafficking Unit said that several women had been married 60 times before they turned 18.
Conservative clerics have said that minors should get married to avoid sexual promiscuity and to avoid the stigma that supposedly comes with women marrying late.
Often the phenomenon occurs in low-income, uneducated families.
In 2018 a 17-year-old Egyptian bride escaped from her 37-year-old Saudi husband on the first day of their wedding.
The same year, a video of 15-year-old Fares and his 14-year-old bride Nada ignited outrage.
The groom’s mother defended the ceremony, saying: “This is normal in our town where children at the age of Fares and younger are engaged to girls.”