27 February 2013

Egypt: Council Documents 616 Customary Marriages in Sinai

The Egyptian National Council for Women documented 616 cases of customary marriage in South Sinai from January 2011 to January 2013.

Customary marriage means a marriage which is not officially registered.

Rapporteur of the Council's branch in South Sinai, Omaima Mohamed, said in a statement that customary marriage has become a widespread phenomenon in Bedouin areas.

"It has serious social repercussions, as the children of this marriage are denied a birth certificate and school enrollment," said the statement.

Mohamed added that the real crisis lies in the wife's suffering in the event of divorce or the death of her spouse, as she cannot obtain her financial rights and is deprived of inheritance.

Customs and traditions contribute to the prevalence of this phenomenon; it is expected of tribes to conduct this type marriage.

The council's rapporteur also stated the poor economic conditions, the absence of a marriage registrar, and the lack of awareness of the negative effects of customary marriage as reasons to the widespread of customary marriage.

The Council said that is still working on the documentation of these cases in the rest of Egypt's governorates in order to maintain the economic, social and legal rights of women and children.

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