A 37-year-old Saudi man claimed his underage bride went missing a day after their “wedding,” according to Egyptian newspaper Masr El Youm.
The man, who remained unnamed, told officials he paid 125,000 Egyptian pounds ($6,979) for the 17-year-old girl to the bride’s father just before their wedding ceremony — which is actually not legal at all.
The legal age for a girl to marry in Egypt is 18, so the couple’s nuptials was conducted under what is called “zawaj orfi,” a customary contract which is considered unofficial in the country.
In his complaint to the police, the Saudi man said he found his bride through a matchmaker in Egypt. He said he paid the woman the above mentioned amount which she then handed over to the 17-year-old’s father. He also apparently rented out an apartment for the girl.
Once the contract was made and the girl came home with the man. However, in the morning after, the man woke up to find his young bride had vanished. Thinking, perhaps the girl had returned to her father’s home, the groom went to the father’s house to ask if he had seen him. But the girl’s father said he had left his daughter with the groom and hadn’t seen her since.
An investigation is now being conducted on the matter. The groom has also filed a complaint against the girl’s father. General Alaa Farouq, the head of the local police department, found evidence that corroborates the man’s story.
Child marriages, despite being outlawed, are still rampant in Egypt, especially in rural areas. The 18-year-old marital age law is also being faced with resistance by conservatives in the country.
Last year, the issue garnered a lot of controversy when several clerics as well as an Egyptian MP called on authorities to lower the marital age for girls from 18 to 16.
Underage marriage is also prevalent in Arab countries.
According to the World Economic Forum, 117 countries around the world permit child marriages, because there is no law to ban it or because it is allowed under certain circumstances.
Around one in three girls in developing countries are forced into marriage before the age of 18 and globally, 39,000 child marriages occur daily, according to UNICEF.
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