The lack of a national agreement on the minimum age for marriage in Lebanon has been a source of concern. All legal procedures relating to matters relating to marriage, divorce, and inheritance are governed by the personal status laws of the various religious denominations. This means that the minimum age for marriage is set by different societies, with a guardian’s permission or judicial permission, and can be as high as 15 for males and 9 for females. Within this framework, the Lebanese Democratic Women’s Gathering – RDFL has worked extensively to provide a legal framework that would advance this issue in the Lebanese Parliament.
In December 2016, the association formed a legal committee to propose a law on child marriage. The committee took into consideration the draft law prepared by the National Commission for Lebanese Women, which aims to fill the main gaps in the proposed law. It should be noted that the committee was keen to develop the proposed draft law in line with international conventions and Lebanon’s international obligations, especially the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the International Bill of Human Rights. The draft law was approved by Representative Elie Kayrouz and presented to the Lebanese Parliament on March 28, 2017. It sets the minimum age for marriage in Lebanon, as its first article stipulates that a “child” is any boy or girl under the age of marriage. 18, and thus “the age of marriage in Lebanese territory [should] be 18.
RDFL’s work on the issue of child marriage
The Lebanese Women Democratic gathering launched a national coalition of 57 national and international organizations in addition to official bodies such as the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the National Committee for Lebanese Women’s Affairs to support advocacy work.
- Raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage and gain the support of the media and the public
- Putting pressure on deputies to assume their legislative responsibilities
- Adoption of a civil law specifying eighteen as the legal marriage age for men and women living in Lebanon
Every time a child is been married, she is subjected to physical, psychological and social pressure that she is not ready to deal with
Proceeding from RDFL’S belief in the right of women to equality, and the role of the state as the sole reference to protect and guarantee the rights of citizens, and in continuation of the struggle of women’s organizations over the years to protect girls from child marriage. Which constitutes a major violation of their right to security and protection and opens the door to the worst forms of violence, exploitation and trafficking, Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL launched a national campaign aimed at protecting all persons under the age of 18 in Lebanese territory from child marriage.
The campaign focused on the health risks of child marriage, which can put the life of the child mother and her fetus, if pregnant, at risk of death. Before the age of 18, the body is still growing, the uterus is still underdeveloped, and the pelvis is not yet ready for a continuing pregnancy. This may lead to many health repercussions, including preeclampsia (preeclampsia), premature birth, vaginal rupture, fatal high blood pressure (hypertension), mental disorders, recurrent miscarriages…
Official launching: October 11, 2017
On the occasion of the International Day of the Girl Child, the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL organized a press conference to launch its national media campaign against child marriage, entitled #Not_before_18, at the lawyer’s house in Beirut, in the presence of about 100 official and civil public figures.
The #NotBefore18 campaign addressed the issue from a medical perspective with the dissemination of relevant materials via digital, press, television and social media channels.
Campaign on TV
Online video message for Dr. Faisal Al-Qaq, President of the Arab League of Obstetrics and Gynecology. The video has garnered more than 260,000 views online TVC is broadcast on 6 national TV channels for free over two to three weeks.
33 influencers supported the campaign by filming and posting videos of them highlighting the health risks of child marriage and key messages of the campaign. Among the celebrities who participated in the program were prominent media professionals, actors, singers, political leaders, directors, authors, social activists and religious leaders.
More than 50 media coverage of the campaign on many national and international TV stations, radio, newspapers and websites.
Thousands marched with RDFL against child and child marriage
On March 2, 2019, the streets of Beirut witnessed a massive demonstration organized by the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL and the National Coalition for the Protection of Children from Early Marriage, with the participation of more than 3,000 deputies and deputies, Eddy Abi Lama’, Paula Yacoubian and Bilal. Al-Abdullah, Elias Hankash, Faisal Al-Sayegh
Three main direct effects:
- Shortly after the start of the electoral campaign, the Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berri, referred a bill to protect children from early marriage to the Administration and Justice Committee for discussion, after it had been in the Parliament for more than 7 months. The draft law was already prepared by the assembly in cooperation with a group of judges and lawyers. Adopted by MP Elie Kayrouz and presented to Parliament in March 2017.
- The Ministry of Health agreed to endorse the rally campaign and join the efforts to raise awareness of the health risks of child marriage by publishing more than 75,000 campaign posters/flyers in more than 1,500 pharmacies, hospitals and primary health care centers across Lebanon. . In addition, the ministry will publish the campaign’s TV advertisement on social media, online accounts, various political, social, cultural and other websites.
- Shortly after the launch of the campaign, the association was accepted as a member of the global partnership Girls Not Brides, including over 800 civil society organizations from 95 countries, committed to ending child marriage and empowering girls to realize their potential.
With the election of the new Parliament, the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL began preparing an integrated plan of action to complete the pressure and struggle to pass a law setting the minimum age for marriage in Lebanon #notbefore18. In this context, we launched a media campaign that lasted for two months, aimed at reminding the parties, parliamentary blocs and members of Parliament that the time for the attractive slogans and promises that accompanied the elections is over, and the time for serious work has come. . The campaign aims to pressure the new parliament to pass a law on the protection of children from early marriage by setting the minimum age for marriage in Lebanon #notbefore18, in line with Lebanon’s international obligations and Lebanese law and to achieve protection. Justice for children and girls.
In 2020, the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL decided to highlight the significant increase in child marriage in light of the pandemic and the current political/economic crisis in Lebanon in order to pressure Parliament to pass a law making underage marriage illegal. Due to the pandemic and the huge economic crisis we are facing so far (2021), there is an unprecedented rise in child marriages. Therefore, we worked to show the seriousness of the situation and portray the facts and reality. Our billboards that carried various awareness and advocacy slogans were published all over Lebanon.
Campaign 2021: #Mich_Wakta
In 2021, the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering – RDFL decided to shed light on the procrastination and delays by the Lebanese authorities, specifically the Administration and Justice Committee, through a campaign under the title #Mish_Wakta as a continous campaing of the main national campaign launched in 2017 #notBefore18 under the slogans, “It is not the time to postpone the law, and it is not time for child girls to get married,” after the proposed law was discussed for the third time. In June 2021, without taking a decision on its approval. The campaign was launched to put pressure on the Lebanese Parliament to pass law making child marriage illegal, and after the National coalition for the Protection of Children and Girls from Early Marriage sent an official letter to the Administration and Justice Committee requesting it to speed up the decision on approving the law without receiving any response from the concerned authority Especially after the significant increase in the rates of child marriage in light of the economic and social crisis that Lebanon is going through.
During the 16 days of activism, the ad for the #Mish-Wakta campaign started appearing on the main Lebanese TV stations in Lebanon and on our various social media platforms. Three video ads were published for the campaign, dealing with child marriage from three main perspectives: education, adolescence, customs and traditions, in addition to publishing posts showing some recent figures related to child marriage in Lebanon.
The Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering will continue to demand, pressure and struggle to pass the setting the age of marriage law in Lebanon #not_before_18
Multiple awards locally and internationally won by the Lebanese Women Democratic Gathering as a result of its advocacy for the adoption of setting the age of marriage law #notbefore18 and ending the phenomenon of child marriage in Lebanon.