Child marriage legitimated in Libya

Activists think that child marriage is child rape legitimated by the law and society and that this phenomenon has increased especially in recent years due to poverty, ignorance, war and turmoil.


Benghazi- The rate of child marriage has increased in the Libyan society in recent years due to many legal, economic, social reasons, in addition to the war and turmoil in the country.

The United Nations sees child marriage a concerning problem, since international humanitarian organizations and laws deals with child marriage as a kind of gender-based violence and violation of the human rights.

After the Minister of Youth of the Government of National Unity announced fund weddings, the number of girls who got married to get this fund, the 40,000 dinars ($8,700), has increased because wedding expenses are often higher than many can afford in the country.

According to the latest report, more than 940 girls aged from 14 and 18 have got married in less than a year, two of them were born in 2008.

Salwa al-Mahjoub, activist and the head of International Organisation for Culture and Peace, thinks the phenomenon of child marriage phenomenon is a legitimacy of child rape by law and society. She said the number of child marriage increases due to poverty, ignorance, war and turmoil.

Speaking about the risks of this phenomenon, she said the organization launched a project entitled, “Family Safety Envoys” three months ago to raise awareness about this phenomenon. Awareness-raising seminars, sessions, workshops have been held in the country as part of the projects. The aim of the project is to raise awareness about the danger of this phenomenon and reduce the number of underage marriages in society with the contribution of actors from all public and health, judicial, justice and students sectors in the city. She told us that they have also launched an online platform to be in touch with girl victims of underage marriage and see if they are subjected to violence or any kind of family problems.

Emphasizing that the media and online platforms play an important role in raising awareness about the dangers of underage/ child marriage, she called on NGOs and media outlets to take steps in raising awareness about the danger of the underage marriage.  

The director of the Social Service, School Health and Psychological Support Office in Benghazi, the advisor and educational inspectors at the Education Bureau of the Libyan government, Suad al-Uraibi, believes that the child marriage is a bad social phenomenon and it is a child rape.

“The hard economic conditions in the country impact families with medium and low incomes, so they force their children into marriage due to the lack of cash in Libyan banks and the high prices of all goods and food stuff. This phenomenon appeared in the 1960s, but it increased after many men were killed in the war. Poor families force their daughters into marriage before the age of 18,” she told us.

She blames the Libyan government to cause the increase in child marriage percentages in society after it has launched the marriage fund for young couples wishing to get married and start a family who rushed to submit the online application to register and get the fund.

“The girl victims of underage marriage cannot shoulder the burden of their families and social responsibilities because they are still children. They face many accusations from their husbands and their husbands’ families when they cannot do their duties. NGOs, public and private government’s institutions must raise social awareness about the effects of this phenomenon on both girls and society. While the Libyan law must protect children from this phenomenon, it encourages this phenomenon to spread in society.”

According to the Libyan Civil Code, the legal age of marriage for women and men is 20 years. Law No. 10 of 1984 on Marriage and Divorce Provisions and the Effects Thereof establishes that a guardian may not compel a young man or young woman to marry against his or her will. However, new amendments were introduced in 2015 and the legal age of marriage is reduced.

Suad al-Uraibi told us that the office will launch a new project soon to raise awareness about the dangers of underage/child marriage.