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A Lebanese Child 'Bride' And Her Gray-Haired 'Groom' Receive Mixed Reactions From Passersby

| by Zara Zhi
Fake Child Bride.Fake Child Bride.

A young girl is enveloped by her big, fluffy white dress and veil, her gray-haired groom is old enough to be her grandfather.

As the two stand outside, their age difference is clear and some passersby shockingly congratulate the pair.

Fortunately, this marriage is fake and a statement to highlight the issue of Lebanese girls that are married off to significantly older men, starting at the age of 9.

The numbers of child brides have increased with the influx of Syrian refugees to Lebanon, where refugees marry the girls off, hoping to give them a more secure life, according to Daily Mail.

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This judge looked an inmate square in the eyes and did something that left the entire courtroom in tears:

But some people see it as appropriate.

“Is she yours?” asks a man passing by. When the groom says “yes,” the man congratulates him and nods in approval.

Nonetheless, their stunt generates anger from some.

“She’s 12! I was jogging but my feet froze when I saw her,” says a woman who demanded to know how old the parents are.

Another passerby tells the woman that the wedding is lawful because the groom obtained the parents’ permission, adding “the law allows it.”

The responds with, “What law? I am taking her with me. We are all going with her. How can I leave? She is like my daughter.”

An onlooker asks the wedding photographer if he is pleased to take photos of such a union. The groom interjects, saying “That’s none of your business. I am with my wife. Her parents gave their permission.”

“You’re like her grandfather,” the man answers back.

Yet, another shocked onlooker says, “Her parents are criminals.”

The sham wedding was organized by nonprofit KAFA, hoping to bring publicity to Lebanon’s child bride shame. The age of consent in the country is defined by religious tribunals.

According to Lebanese law, 14-year-old girls can marry without parental permission, though courts have allowed 9-year-olds to wed with parental permission.

According to UNICEF, 1 in every 100 children in Lebanon is wed before the age of 15. The appalling trend is said to be growing in the Arab world due to refugees marrying off their daughters to older men in the hopes of giving them a better life.

Some Syrian refugee girls are also being married off because it means one less mouth to feed, according to Jihane Latrous, a child protection specialist at UNICEF.

These child brides are at a much higher probability of having complications during pregnancy, domestic abuse and rape, and getting a proper education.

A 13-year-old refugee, Maha, told UNICEF:

“My father forced me to get married because he heard about a rape case (in a refugee camp) nearby. He was scared the same would happen to my sister and me. He forced my sister to get married first, and then he made me get married right after that. It was all very forceful and I had no choice. I didn’t want to get married. I would’ve liked to finish my studies, but I couldn’t do that.” 

One in three girls are child brides in the developing world says executive director at Girls Not Brides, Lakshmi Sundaram.

Sundaram told Daily Mail:

“Pregnancy and childbirth are incredibly dangerous for child brides, often leading to death or significant injuries. Their children are at risk too. Babies with mothers under 20 are far less likely to survive their first birthday. Once married, a girl’s education is usually cut short, which means that she is much less likely to be able to access opportunities to pull herself and her family out of poverty. Unless we act now to end this child marriage, more than 1 billion girls will be married as children by 2050.”

Sources: Daily Mail, UNICEF / Photo credit: KAFA via Daily Mail