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Lebanon Child Marriage Video Highlights Scale Of Young Brides Across The World

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A 12-year-old girl dressed in a full bridal outfit poses next to her smiling groom - a man who looks easily old enough to be her grandfather.

People walking past the pair offer congratulations to the new couple, while others call the man "criminal".

He replies: "This is none of your business. I got permission from her parents".

Fortunately, the video is the work of a group of actors helping to highlight the plight of child marriages. Unfortunately, this video shows the reality that 37,000 children face everyday.

child marriage

Two actors take to the streets to tackle the issue of child marriage

The actors in the video were hired by KAFA ("enough"), a pressure group that aims to fight the violence and exploitation of women in Lebanon.

It was filmed as part of a campaign, supported by the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund), to end child marriage in the country. But though fictitious, the scenario represents a disturbing reality for many at a time when six percent of Syrian refugee girls are getting married in the country before they turn 18.

One in three living in low and middle-income countries marry before turning 18, and almost one-third of these before their 15th birthday, according to UNFPA.

These same estimates show that in 2015 alone there were around 37,000 child marriages each day.

The problem in Lebanon, which is what the video highlights, is something that people don't know enough about, Maya Ammar, a spokesperson for KAFA, says.

"Some people do not know that the law in Lebanon allows child marriage, and other do not feel concern about the matter,

"We chose to do the child marriage video to draw more attention to the issue, while at the same time engaging people in a real scene happening before their eyes. The scene was supposed to seem shocking because the practice itself is shocking," she said.

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KAFA has been campaigning against Lebanon's reservations to adopting Article 16 of the United Nations' 1979 Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which protects women's and girls' choice in marriage.

Article 16 of CEDAW mandates that countries grant men and women equal rights to choose their spouse, enter into marriage and manage familial affairs.

"The betrothal and the marriage of a child shall have no legal effect, and all necessary action, including legislation, shall be taken to specify a minimum age for marriage and to make the registration of marriages in an official registry compulsory," it states.

In Lebanon, the legal age of consent for marriage is 18 years for men and 17 for women. With guardian permission, the ages are 17 for males and 9 for women.

Six percent of Syrian refugee girls are getting married in the country before they turn 18, according to a study by the University of St Joseph.

Impoverished parents often see no choice but to find husbands for their daughters, at a time when there are around 500,000 Syrian school-age children in the country, and only one fifth of them were enrolled in formal education in 2015.

Lebanon had a count of around 1.1 million Syrian refugees in 2015, making it the country with the highest per capita concentration of asylum seekers.

The video campaign was re-published on social media in the wake of Valentines Day using the hashtag #IDONT, it has gathered over 1.7 million views since its release.

Originally released in December 2015, the UN recently promoted it to campaign against the issue amid the refugee crisis.

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