Cablegate: Egypt Prosecutes Facilitators of Under-Age

DE RUEHEG #2083 3070947
P 030947Z NOV 09

C O N F I D E N T I A L CAIRO 002083



E.O. 12958: DECL: 11/03/2029


Classified By: Economic-Political Minister-Counselor Donald A. Blome for reasons 1.4 (d).
1. Key Points: -- (SBU) On October 19, an Egyptian court in Al Gharbeya Governorate (in the Nile Delta region) sentenced a marriage registrar, or "ma'zoun," to two years in prison, under the provisions of the 2008 amendment to Egypt's child law, for registering the marriages of 144 girls under the age of 18. According to local press reports, many of the 144 marriages involved short-term relationships between under-age Egyptian girls and male tourists from Arabian Gulf countries. The court sentenced the registrar to two years in prison. -- (SBU) On October 22, the court convicted a second marriage registrar of the same offense and sentenced him to two years in prison. According to press reports, he illegally registered the marriages of 122 under-age girls. -- (C) According to Dr. Aza Ashmawy, Director of the National Council on Childhood and Motherhood's (NCCM) anti-trafficking program, the prosecutions stemmed in part from telephone calls to the NCCM's anti-trafficking hotline and a subsequent investigation - which is ongoing - conducted in cooperation with Egypt's Ministry of Interior (MOI) and Office of Public Prosecutor.

2. (C) Comment: Egyptian experts on human trafficking point to short-term marriages between Egyptian girls under the age of 18 and wealthy visitors from other Arab countries - often referred to as "summer marriages" - as one of Egypt's more significant trafficking issues. The 2008 child law amendments were directed, in part, at combating this practice. The recent investigation and prosecution of marriage registrars appears to signal that the GoE is serious about combating "summer marriages," despite societal resistance, both from families who benefit financially and some religious leaders - especially conservative preachers - who view the GoE's regulation of the age of marriage and of ma'zouns, who have a dual civil and religious role, as un-Islamic. ------------------------------ "Summer Marriage" Convictions ------------------------------

3. (SBU) On October 19, an Egyptian court convicted a marriage register of illegally registering 144 marriages of girls under the age of 18. On October 22, the same court convicted a second registrar of illegally registering the marriages of 122 under-age girls. The court sentenced both to two years in prison. The registrars' convictions were based on Article 5 of the 2008 amendments to Egypt's child law, which raised the legal age of marriage to 18 and criminalized the registration of under-age marriages. According to media reports, the Public Prosecutor referred three additional marriage registrars to a court in Dakheleya Governorate for trial on similar charges.

4. (C) On October 28, the NCCM's Dr. Ashmawy told us that the convictions resulted from an investigation launched in recent months prompted in part by reports received on NCCM's "trafficking hotline," including one from a domestic worker who reported that her employer had forced her into multiple temporary marriages. According to Dr. Ashmawy, the marriages the "ma'zouns" were convicted of illegally registering occurred in the "last three months." Dr. Ashmawy said the investigation is ongoing and that she expects additional prosecutions. She views the convictions as significant for a number of reasons; they are the first ever of marriage registrars for recording under-age marriages; the MOI cooperated fully in the investigations, signaling the GOE's commitment to combating "summer marriages;" and the prosecutions and relatively stiff sentences will serve as a warning to Egypt's marriage registrars, making "summer marriages" more difficult. Scobey

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: India’s New COVID-19 Wave Is Spreading Like ‘Wildfire’, Warns UN Children’s Fund

7 May 2021 A new wave of COVID-19 infections is spreading like “wildfire” across India, leaving many youngsters destitute, the UN Children’s Fund UNICEF said on Friday. In the last 24 hours, India registered 3,915 coronavirus deaths and 414,188 ... More>>

UN: Decades Of Health Gains At Risk In Brazil Due To COVID-19

Although COVID-19 cases are declining in Brazil, the pandemic is putting decades of public health gains there at risk, the head of the World Health Organization ( WHO ) said on Friday. With global attention and support focused this week ... More>>

UN Report: Myanmar Approaching Point Of Economic Collapse

The turmoil following the military coup in Myanmar, coupled with the impact of COVID-19 could result in up to 25 million people – nearly half of the country’s population, living in poverty by early next year, a United Nations report said on Friday. That ... More>>

Focus On: UN SDGs

Study: Cut Methane Emissions To Avert Global Temperature Rise

6 May 2021 Methane emissions caused by human activity can be reduced by up to 45 per cent this decade, thus helping to keep global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius in line with the Paris Agreement on climate change, according to a UN-backed ... More>>

UN: Learning From COVID-19, Forum To Highlight Critical Role Of Science, Technology And Innovation In Global Challenges

New York, 4 May —To build on the bold innovations in science, technology and innovations that produced life-saving solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UN will bring together experts to highlight measures that can broaden the development and deployment ... More>>

What COVID-19 Has Taught Us: “Healthcare Can No Longer Exist Without Technology”

A grandmother in a village in the Gambia should have the same quality of life and access to healthcare they deserve as in New York or London. Photo: InnovaRx Global Health Start-up Works To Bridge Healthcare Gap In The Gambia By: Pavithra Rao As ... More>>