Combating Early Marriage and Young People’s Reproductive Risks in Egypt: Research, Interventions and Policies18-19 June 2014SRC-AUCTowards Eradication of Child Marriage: Evidence Based Interventions Ahmed Ragab
Themes of the Presentation • Introduction • Child Marriage in the Arab Region • Strategies that works • What works in Egypt • Faith Based Approach • Challenges • Recommendations
Introduction • Child marriage not only is recognized as a human rights violation but also as a barrier to development. Considerable evidence shows that the negative consequences of child marriage are numerous and especially harmful for girls, their children and their communities.
Introduction • These consequences include poorer health outcomes for young mothers and their children, and higher experiences of violence. Evidence also suggests early marriage results in lower levels of education and persistent poverty among girls.
Introduction • Studies show a strong association between child marriage and early childbirth, partly because girls are pressured to prove their fertility soon after marrying and they have little access to information on reproductive health or ability to influence decision making on family planning.
Introduction • Women who bear children at a young age may face serious health consequences. Young mothers experience higher rates of maternal mortality and higher risk of obstructed labor and pregnancy-induced hypertension because their bodies are unprepared for childbirth.
Child Marriage in Arab Region • In the Arab region, one in seven girls marry before her 18th birthday. Families who marry off their daughters at such a young age may believe that it is in the girls’ best interest, not realizing that they are violating their daughters’ human rights. • Fahimi, F; Ibrahim, Sh (2013) Population Reference Bureau.
Child Marriage in Arab Region • In the Arab region, the highest rates of child marriage are seen in the poorest countries—Yemen, Sudan, Somalia. One-third or more of the girls in these countries marry before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is rare in Tunisia, Algeria, and Libya. Egypt, the most populous Arab country,is home to the largest number of child brides in the region.
Aim of the Presentation • There have been a number of programs to tackle the problem of child marriage all over the world, the aim of the presentation is to review what works and what could be applicable to our region and to Egypt.
Strategies for preventing child/early marriage • Most strategies/programs involve: • Educating families and communities and • Include community sensitization/awareness raising efforts . • Sustaining Education for Girls and Peventing Dropouts
Tostan‘sCommunity Empowerment Program in Senegal • Tostan‘sCommunity Empowerment Program in Senegal uses local facilitators to teach community education sessions on issues such as child marriage and female genital cutting (FGC). Participants pass on their new knowledge through inter-village meetings
Tostan‘s Community Empowerment Program in Senegal • An evaluation of the Tostan model found that the program was able to bring about change in knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in 90 intervention villages, and these were reinforced by a public declaration by approximately 300 villages against child marriage and FGC. As a result, there has been a slight reduction in the prevalence of marriage of girls under 15 years old, with a stronger delay for women aged 15-18 years.
Law and Policy Initiatives • An example of this is the Women‘s Legal Rights Initiative in India, which involved training lawyers and counselors in two Indian states on various women‘s issues including the legal age of marriage.
Law and Policy Initiatives • The legal professionals worked with a network of women‘s self-help groups to conduct workshops for local police and religious leaders on the issue of child marriage. The network also successfully encouraged the government of one Indian state to amend its Child Marriage Restraint Act and create a provision to appoint child marriage prevention officers.
Providing economic opportunities that includes income-generation for girls and monetary incentives for parents. • For example, a financial incentive program has been operating in the Indian state of Haryana since 1994. Apni Beta ApnaDhan (Our Daughter, Our Wealth) aims to discourage son preference by offering financial incentives to parents who give birth to a daughter. The incentive consists of an immediate cash grant and a long-term savings to be given on the daughter's 18th birthday provided she is unmarried, with additional bonuses for education.
KishoriAbhijan (Adolescent Girls‘Adventure) project • KishoriAbhijan was implemented by two Bangladeshi NGOs, the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and the Centre for Mass Education in Science (CMES). The project aimed to lower school dropout rates, increase girls‘ independent economic activity, and raise the age at which girls marry. Life-skills training included life-skills lessons, savings account options, access to credit, and livelihood training.
KishoriAbhijan (Adolescent Girls‘Adventure) project • The project evaluation found that participation in KishoriAbhijan increased the number of girls working for cash and the amount of income they earned, particularly in programs that included microcredit. Furthermore, the project demonstrated that working for cash did not lead girls to drop out of school. Delays in marriage were achieved by a subgroup of members, namely younger girls from the poorest district who attended school.
“Turning Child Brides into Scholars” • The “Turning Child Brides into Scholars‘” program for girls in Kenya. The program transforms the Masai tribe practice of “booking‘ daughters for marriage” into a program that “books‘ these girls for school” instead.
“Turning Child Brides into Scholars” • In Kenya, the Masai tribe practices the ritual of Esaiyata, whereby daughters are booked‘for marriage, often before they are born. CCF in Kenya responded to this ritual by creating a program that books‘these girls for school instead. CCF worked with the Naning‘oi Girls Boarding School, so that the school represents the man in search of a young bride. Donated livestock and other gifts are offered to a girl‘s father in exchange for committing to his daughter‘s attendance at the boarding school.
The TAHSEEN Model for Reaching the Urban Poor in Egypt • TAHSEEN project (2003-2005) — a USAID-funded project in Doweika, a slum area in Cairo. It involves TAHSEEN‘s plays and puppet shows to over 2,000 people has brought about increased awareness about the ideal age of marriage. In addition, literacy class participants indicated that the health messages they heard in class improved their knowledge and attitudes about the health benefits of birth spacing and delaying age of marriage.
Ishraq Project • “Ishraq” (“sunrise” in Arabic) is a project for vulnerable girls in Upper Egypt. Begun in 2001, the project aims to improve education, health, and social opportunities by bringing the girls into safe learning spaces. It offers out-of-school girls literacy and numeracy skills, life skills, and—for the first time in Egypt—sports, to prepare them for integration into formal schooling.
Ishraq Project • Girls ages 13 to 15 meet with Ishraq promoters four times a week for 24 months, after which they take an exam to get into the public school system; generally more than 90 percent pass. The promoters are local women who have finished secondary school and serve as role models. Started as a pilot project in four rural communities in El-Minya Governorate, Ishraq has expanded to rural communities in Fayoum, Sohag, and Qena governorates in Upper Egypt, reaching more than 3,000 girls. The program also involves parents, community leaders, and boys to help create an environment conducive to social change.
Faith Based Approach • The word of religion has its effect within souls, and Religious Leaders possess a degree and have an effect on peoples’ hearts, thus their role is significant and effective in this sphere. • In the context of the sweeping conservatism in many of the Muslim countries, conspiracy theory that the west is trying to control Muslim fertility through family planning programs is widely mentioned. Consequently, it is mandatory to change the language of our advocacy programs to counteract this accusation
Faith Based Approach • In this regard,” reproductive justice” a term that was introduced and gained publicity in early 80s can be used as basis for eradication of “Child Marriage” and other reproductive health issues.
Challenges of the Faith Based Approach • The Different Interpretation of the Age of Puppetry among Theologians. • Aisha’s Age at Marriage. • Spinsterhood and Delayed Age At Marriage
Age of Puppetry • Fiqh scholars differ in their estimate of the age of puberty as follows: • First: a number of scholars consider a child an adult as it completes fifteen years starting at birth, whether it is a male or a female. • Second: some Maliki and Hanafi scholars consider seventeen to be the age of puberty for both males and females. This is narrated as Abu Hanifa's opinion. • Third: In another narration, Abu Hanifa considers the age of eighteen to be the age of puberty for boys.
Age of Puppetry • Fourth: In a third narration, Abu Hanifa considers the age of puberty to be nineteen for males and seventeen for females.(1) • Fifth: In another narration, Abu Hanifa considers the age of puberty to be nineteen for both males and females.(2) • (1) Al-Mughni by IbnQidama, part 4, p 514. • (2) Al-Jami' Li-AhkamAl-Qur'an, by Al-Qurtubi, part 5, p.35.
Aisha’s Age • Aisha said, "I was a girl playing games when the verse, 'Indeed, the Last Hour is their appointed time [for their complete recompense], and the Last Hour will be more grievous and more bitter' was revealed to God's Messenger. This information opens doors regarding her age. • The verse under consideration is the 46th verse of SurahQamar, the 54th chapter of the Quran, which explains the miracle of the split moon. This surah came while the Prophet was in IbnArqam's home 614.
Aisha’s Age • If we look at the issue taking 614 as the year that SurahQamar was revealed, Aisha would have been born at least eight years before the prophetic mission, or in 606. • When this information is combined with her name being on the list of the first Muslims, we get the result that Aisha's date of birth was probably 606. Consequently, she would have been at least 17 when she married. • - See more at: http://www.islamicity.com/articles/articles.asp?ref=ic0811-3718#sthash.gl61bf8a.dpuf
Opportunities • Ask the Experts “Ahl El Zekr” • Obey the authorities “Oli Al-Amr
Recommendations • Multi-Sectoral approach that integrates reproductive health/family planning services and information into other health and social services. • Networking and partnership of all Stakeholders. • Community Participation.
Recommendations • Engage the community's religious and traditional leaders. • Gaining political support and endorsing by public figures. .
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