A New law in Egypt to oblige a foreigner Usually older Arab to deposit 50,000 ponds in the name of the girl he is marrying. There are a number of laws in Egypt regarding under age marriages 18 years being the legal age and 16 years with parental consent. Marriages are to be registered and no underage marriages are allowed. One Problem non of the laws are enforced.
Each summer, wealthy male tourists from Gulf Arab states flock to Egypt to escape the oppressive heat of the Arabian Peninsula, taking residence at upscale hotels and rented flats in Cairo and Alexandria. Many come with their families and housekeeping staff, spending their days by the pool, shopping, and frequenting cafes and nightclubs. Others come for a more sinister purpose.
In El Hawamdia, a poor agricultural town 20 kilometres south of Cairo, they are easy to spot. Arab men in crisp white thawbs troll the town’s pot-holed, garbage-strewn streets in their luxury cars and SUVs. As they arrive, Egyptian fixers in flip flops run alongside their vehicles, offering short-term flats and what to them is the town’s most sought-after commodity – underage girls.
The brokers, usually second-rate lawyers, also offer a delivery service. Village girls as young as 11 are brought to the Arab tourists’ hotel or rented flat for selection. Arab men travelling with their wives and children often arrange a separate flat for such purposes.
The temporary marriages offer a way to circumvent Islamic restrictions on pre-marital sex.
“Many hotels and landlords in Egypt will not rent a room to unmarried couples,” explains Mohamed Fahmy, a Cairo real estate agent. “A marriage certificate, even a flimsy one, allows visiting men to have sexual liaisons.”
Engaging in sexual relations with minors is illegal in Egypt. Brokers can help with that too, forging birth certificates or substituting the identity card of the girl’s older sister or forge a new one.
A one-day mut’a or “pleasure” marriage can be arranged for as little as 800 Egyptian pounds (100 dollars). The money is split between the broker and the girl’s parents.
A summer-long misyar or “visitor” marriage runs from 20,000 Egyptian pounds (2,800 dollars) to 70,000 Egyptian pounds (10,000 dollars). The legally non-binding contract terminates when the man returns to his country.
The “dowry” that Gulf Arab men are prepared to pay for sex with young girls is a powerful magnet for impoverished Egyptian families in a country where a quarter of the population subsists on less than two dollars a day.
The International Organisation of Migration (IOM) too has been studying these “marriages”. “The family takes the money, and the foreign ‘husband’ usually leaves the girl after two or three weeks,” says Sandy Shinouda, a Cairo-based official at the IOM’s Counter-Trafficking Unit.
“The unregistered marriages are not recognised by the state and afford no rights to the girl, or any children that result from these unions.”
Shinouda, who formerly ran a shelter for victims of the trade, says most of the young girls come from large families that see marriage to an older, wealthier foreigner as a way to escape grinding poverty.
“The girl may have 10 siblings, so the family considers her as a commodity,” she says.
Parents may seek a broker to arrange a marriage once their daughter reaches puberty. In about a third of cases the girl is pressured into accepting the arrangement, the NCCM study found.
This can have a profound psychological impact on the girl’s mental health, says Shinouda.
“The girls know their families have exploited them…they can understand that their parents sold them,” she says. “Reintegration is a big challenge because in many cases if you return the girls to their family the parents will sell them again.”
Egypt’s 2008 Child Law criminalises marriages to girls who have not reached the legal age of 18. Another law prohibits marriages to foreigners where the age difference exceeds 25 years.
But the laws are never enforced, concedes NCCM’s El-Ashmawy. Anecdotal evidence suggests the trade has grown since Egypt’s 2011 revolution as a result of worsening economic conditions and an ineffectual police force.
Young ex brides dancing on boats
“It’s not simply about poverty or religion,” she asserts. “It’s cultural norms that support this illicit trade – people believe it is in the best interest of the girls and the families at large. And brokers succeeded in finding common ground with families in order to exploit young girls.”
Some of the victims are taken back to their husband’s country to work as maids or sex slaves while those left in Egypt are shunned by the conservative society – particularly if they get pregnant or have a child during their temporary marriage.
Young divorced girl with child.
The shame of being divorced and poor leads many of the girls to dump these youngsters in orphanages or abandon them with thousands of other Egyptian street children.Many of these ‘brides’ are also targeted by Egyptian men and forced into prostitution.
Prostitutes catering to Egyptian men in local coffee shops offer to have sex for $13 (100 Egyptian Pounds) per encounter. Usually they get or accept less.30-50 egyptian pounds is the average most live on the streets.Or get picked up by pimps and are sold to work in whore houses.
Young Prostitutes in a whore house In Cairo
Dr Hoda Badran, who chairs the NGO Alliance for Arab Women, says that she believed poverty was the major cause of the trade.
She said:’If those families are in such a need to sell their daughters you can imagine how poor they are. Many times, the girl does not know she is marrying the husband just for the short term. Or for the summer
‘She is young, she accepts what her family tells her, she knows the man is going to help them. If the girl is very poor, sometimes it is the only way out to help the family survive.’
When she becomes a prostitute she is not Halal anymore. But the old Arab who married her for a few hours or overnight or a week That was Halal.