Over the weekend, a 12-year-old boy was married to his 10-year-old bride in a wedding ceremony which had relatives describe them as the world’s youngest spouses, although the marriage is not recognized by law.
In a village of El-Maasara, north of the capital Cairo, the groom, Faris Abdul Aziz married his bride Nancy in a wedding ceremony attended by hundreds of guests and also featured music and three professional dancers.
An Egyptian media published a photograph of the event, showing the groom in a suit and tie holding hands with his bride, in a flowing pink dress.
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The children were already betrothed to each other but rather than wait until they reached the legal age of marriage, the parents held the ceremony early.
The groom’s father allegedly arranged the wedding because he wanted to raise some money. He is quoted as saying he decided to have his son marry because he wanted to collect “as much wedding presents as possible”.
The families signed an agreement but did not file an official marriage to avoid the legal restrictions forbidding marriage before the age of 18.
The boy’s father says he wanted to have a celebration for his son and also make a profit from the event. The father claimed such events were a custom in the area and remained unofficial so as to not run afoul of the authorities.
While local residents confirmed the custom, they noted that the couple were the youngest ever in the village to go through with the ceremony.
According to the father, the “husband” and “wife” will not live together but will each remain with their families until they reach a legal age to be married. However, a resident of the village told media that the couple has already been given an apartment to live in.
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Egyptian rights groups and women’s right groups have expressed alarm at the marriage. The Women’s Center for Guidance and Legal Awareness condemned the marriage and called for the family members responsible to be brought to trial for “endangering the children’s lives.”