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Gharbiya child engagement ‘criminal’: Source

A report by Al-Masry Al-Youm about two minors who became engaged in Gharbiya, on Sunday, has resulted in a wide-scale reaction by readers, media outlets and children's rights activists, leading Mervat al-Tallawy, chairman of the National Council for Women, to call the incident a “complete crime”.
Tallawy  told satellite TV channel Dream late Sunday that she was completely against child marriages which, she said, “have become common recently”. Tallawy holds families responsible for the consequences of approving the underage marriage of their children in violation of the law and social values.
Though the legal marital age for males and females in Egypt is 18, the fact that the party was a mere engagement spares the family legal liability.
Hany Helal, who heads the Egyptian Coalition on Children’s Rights, told Al-Masry Al-Youm he had been following the pair’s case since it first came up and had met with the Banna family. “There is no legal action that can be taken against the family of the two kids. The matter has not gone beyond a family engagement party,” Helal said.
Waguih and Noha al-Banna, cousins who are 16 and 9 years old respectively, were engaged during a party attended by hundreds of villagers in the town of Zefta.
Waguih, a ninth grader, told Al-Masry Al-Youm he was unfazed by the angry reactions, stressing that his marriage will not be consummated for another five years. “I did not commit a crime,” he said, adding that he had bought his fiancee a “shabka”(customary wedding jewelry) worth LE6,000 to which his relatives contributed.
The bride is equally happy. Miss Banna told Al-Masry Al-Youm she was happy with the engagement. “I have a normal kid's life, playing and going out with my friends,” she said, adding that she agreed with her fiancee that she would not leave school.
Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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