Early Marriages in Middle East and North Africa


Early Marriages in Middle East and North Africa. Initiative on VAW, Carr Center, Harvard Kennedy School; Working Paper.


"Child marriage remains a widely ignored violation of the health and development rights of girls and young women” (IPPF, 2006). Many reasons are given by parents and guardians to justify child marriage.  Economic reasons often underpin these decisions which are directly linked to poverty and the lack of economic opportunities for girls in rural areas. Girls are either seen as an economic burden or valued as capital for their exchange value in terms of goods, money or livestock. A combination of cultural, traditional, and religious arguments are examples utilized to justify child marriage. The fear and stigma attached to premarital sex and bearing children outside marriage, and the associated family “honor,” are often seen as valid reasons for the actions that families take. Finally, many parents tend to curtail the education of their girls and marry them off, due to fear of the high level of sexual violence and abuse encountered en route to, and even at, school.

Last updated on 12/18/2015