The Egyptian Government is proposing a new draft law to ban child marriage, amending the previous 1992 law in order to have a larger impact on decreasing child marriage. The new draft law will enforce new punishments on parents who force their children into early marriage; namely that the father will be deprived of guardianship over the children and their property, as seen on Egypt Today. In Egypt a father cannot be deprived of guardianship of his children who are minors unless he has been found unfit. The law also proposes punishments for the marriage registrar who officiates the marriage; he or she would be banned from officiating more marriages or pay a fine, and may also face jail time of one year if caught more than once, according to Egypt Today.
The new draft law will also focus on boys and girls as potential victims of child marriage. Member of Parliament Abla El Hawary stated that “child marriage affects both boys and girls. So the proposed bill is against it for the protection of both genders. We cannot specify one gender, as it contradicts the constitutional equality principle,” according to Egypt Today.
Approximately 119,000 girls were married under the age of 18 in 2017, according to CAPMAS statistics, and approximately 18,000 of those girls are married before the age of 16 and 500,000 children are born to underage mothers every year, according to the Ministry of Health.
The draft bill is being proposed after President Sisi stated that he was “surprised that the number of married 12-year-olds was not low” in April 2017 as well as calls by Sisi in September 2017 to do more to protect children from underage marriage.
The current law against child marriage does not criminalize registration of child marriages.