Passers-by are horrified as middle-aged man 'marries' 12-year-old girl

By Kirstin Buick
16 February 2016

She looks as though she hasn't even hit puberty – and yet the little girl wears a white gown and a veil as she poses for photos near the beach with a man old enough to be her father.

Video footage of the seemingly bizarre incident shows onlookers react with shock and confusion as they watch the scene unfold – but that's exactly what KAFA hoped for.

The organisation, whose name means "enough" in Arabic, staged the wedding photo shoot as part of their Violence & Exploitation campaign in Lebanon, aimed at raising awareness of the plight of child brides in the Middle Eastern country.

A man tries to get the "bride's" attention during the shoot. PHOTO: YouTube/Kafa A man tries to get the "bride's" attention during the shoot. PHOTO: YouTube/Kafa

"The scene was supposed to seem shocking because the practice itself is shocking,” Maya Ammar, KAFA’s communications coordinator, said.

One woman who watched the "newlyweds" said, "I was jogging but my feet froze when I saw her," says one aghast onlooker, her voice cracking.

Another man screamed out, "Her parents are criminals," after the grey-haired groom told the outraged crowd of onlookers that his child-wife's parents had given their permission.

via GIPHY

In some parts of Lebanon, parents can allows their daughter to marry when she is just nine years old. Girls older than 14 don't need parental consent to wed.

Last year the Lebanese National Commission for Women’s Affairs introduced legislation that would require all marriages to have a civil registration, and not just a religious tribunal. But the Bill has not been addressed.

According to The Independent, as many as 15 million girls are forced into marriage every single year, and some are only eight or nine years old.

Across the world, a shocking one in three girls from low to middle income homes are married before their 18th birthday, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates, and an additional 1,2 billion girls will be forced into child marriage by 2050.

Child brides are less likely to get formal schooling, and are more likely to experience domestic abuse.

The World Health Organisation says that pregnancy is the second-leading cause of death among girls between 15 and 19, and child brides are more likely to commit suicide.

Read more about the campaign here

Sources: unfpa.org, independent.co.uk, mirror.co.uk

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