A little girl of 12-years-old, wearing make-up, poses for photographs as she appears to marry a middle-aged man in this shocking wedding video. This horrifying footage also seems to show her suit-clad husband, who is at least four decades older than her, clinging on to her.
Shot in Lebanon, the video has sparked an international outcry. But, thankfully, the child bride and her groom were actors hired by the campaign group KAFA - which means “enough” in Arabic. Amassing more than 1.7 million views since it was released, the clip offers up a window into another world where thousands of young girls in Lebanon, Syria and around the world who are forced into marriage.
Nearly 15 million girls who are as young as eight are forced to marry older men sometimes in their sixties and senventies.
According to the United Nations Population Fund more than 1.2 billion girls will be forced into child marriage by 2050.
Now the Government in Lebanon has introduced legislation it hopes will pass that will require all marriages to have a civil registration in an attempt to outlaw it.
Currently parents can give permission for their children to marry at the age of nine while a girl can give consent herself at the age of 14. Campaigner Maya Ammar said: “The scene [video] was supposed to seem shocking because the practice itself is shocking.”
It is thought one in three girls from low to middle income families are married before they turn 18. And one third of those girls are less than 15-years-old.
Worldwide Age of Marital Consent
According to United Nations statistics the legal age of consent varies around the world from as little as 12 in Trinidad and Tobago to 13 in Syria while in the Catholic Church the code of canon law articulates that a girl can be 14 at age of marriage.
- Democratic Republic of Congo : a girl can marry at the age of 15
- Trinidad & Tobago : a girl can be 12 with parental consent
- Venezuela : generally 18 but is 14 for females and 16 for males with parental consent
- Bolivia : the legal age is 21 but with permission from parents or guardians they can marry at 16 and females at 14. Exceptions can be made for pregnant minors.
- Iran: The civil code set the legal age of marriage at 13 for girls and 15 boys but children can marry even younger with legal consent
- Iraq: Legal age to marry is 18 but 15 with a judge's permission
- Syria: The legal age is 17 for girls and 18 for boys but girls have been sanctioned by religious leaders to marry at 13
- Yemen: without their families' permission, girls and boys can marry at 15.
- Afghanistan : Civil Code says marriage of a minor girl whose age is less then 15 shall never be permissible - 16 is the norm
- United Kingdom: in Scotland it is 16 without consent but in England, Wales and Northern Ireland it is 18 or 16 with parental consent or the permission of the court
- United States of America : without consent it is 18. However in Massachusetts it is 12 for a girl and 14 for a boy with consent, in Texas a girl can marry at age 14 but a boy can't marry until 18 while Hawaii it is 15 for girls. In California there is no minimum age with approval of a superior court judge and parental consent.