A 12-year-old boy is set to wed his 11-year-old cousin, after the groom-to-be's father gave the couple's engagement his blessing
Nasir Hassan made the announcement that Omar, 12, will be marrying the 11-year-old Gharam to "double the joy" at his eldest son's special day in Egypt.
At the eldest son's wedding, held in a province in Cairo, the guests didn’t find it strange when the engagement was announced
Egyptian laws prohibit official registration for marriages for anyone under the age of 18. But the practice remains prevalent. According to UNICEF, 17 percent of Egyptian girls are married before the age of 18, the vast majority of the unions taking place in rural areas.washingtonpost.com
Photos of the young couple began circulating in local media which were met with anger by activists
Reda Eldanbouki, the head of the Women's Center for Legal Aid and Counseling in Egypt filed a complaint to the attorney general, stating that the engagement would only lead to an early marriage in which the girl will be deprived of equal chances to education, growth, and will isolate her from social spheres.
Despite the backlash, Hassan insisted that there was nothing "inappropriate" about the couple because it was only an "engagement, not a marriage"
"Omar has always loved Gharam so much that he used to say he will marry her when they grow up before any other man asks for her hand in marriage when she is older," he added.
He further said that both children acted "beyond their years" and had "strong feelings for each other" through Facebook and other social media and "wanted to get engaged".