A Powerful Social Experiment Denouncing Child Marriage in Lebanon.
A video was recently posted on the Facebook page of NGO Kafa addressing violence and exploitation. The scene takes place by the sea at Ein-el-mreiseh in Beirut and opens with a number of passersby congratulating an old white-haired man wearing a suit with a very young-looking girl in a wedding dress standing at his side.
The story starts to unravel as a man asks the photographer present how he feels about taking pictures of such an odd couple, given the fact that the bride clearly is a minor. The groom, who overhears the conversation rudely responds telling the man to mind his business.
Other comments expressing outrage at such a situation follow as the crowd begins to grow in size. Unable to contain herself and feeling guilty at such a sight, a woman approaches the bride and inquires where her parents are. The groom, who now had grown impatient interjects and explains that he is not doing anything wrong as the Lebanese laws permit such a union.
The film concludes with the sentence that an ‘old’ law should not be taken seriously. Though the entire matter was staged, people’s reactions were quite genuine and the entire sham was designed to shed light on the marriage of minors in Lebanon. KAFA aims to change these obsolete laws by setting a minimum age for girls who wish to tie the knot in hope of giving civil authorities a say in the matter instead of leaving the issue for the clerics to decide.
Sadly, religious tribunals handle all so-called personal status issues related to Lebanon’s 18 officially recognised sects, including setting the age of consent, divorce and inheritance. However, with this video, KAFA aims to change all that beginning with acquiring official statistics on child marriage in Lebanon.
Though the laws may prove quite problematic and difficult to change, the fact remains that this is one matter that has already been deemed as unacceptable and will, with time and efforts of this nature, change.