Thesis on Child Marriage


Write a research-focused paper, particularly for advanced study students, using the student’s relevant professional experience and by exploring secondary sources. The aim is to make a contribution to the scholarly and/or policy analysis of: (i) a broad development question (e.g., effectiveness of development aid, the relation between democracy and development) or (ii) a more narrowly defined problem by analyzing the work of an organization and where it fits in a certain development sector.



In Egypt, child marriage is a widespread social phenomenon, which mainly affects girls living in poorer rural areas, and is becoming more prevalent in urban areas, including Upper Egypt (United Nations, 2012). Seventeen percent of girls are married before their eighteenth birthday (United Nations, 2012). Wealthy men from Egypt, and the Arab region, including the Gulf, frequently travel to Egypt to purchase “temporary marriages and tourism marriages” with underage Egyptian girls, including in some cases girls who are under the age of 14 years (The Protection Project, 2011). These marriages are often facilitated by the girl’s parents and through marriage brokers, sheikhs, lawyers, community leaders and Ma’azoons (authorized marriage ‘sheikhs’) who take bribes for registering marriages of underage girls (NCCM, 2012). 
In 2008, the Egyptian government issued a law to determine the legal age for marriage is eighteen, and to crimainalize the marriage under this age. As a result, the government bans registration of marriage between couples under this age (Nour, 2009). However, many families in rural areas accept unregistered marriage until the girls turns eighteen and many religious leaders try to find leeway around the law for underage couples’ marriages. Some religious leaders change the date of birth or use unofficial documents in the marriage certificate ( Nour, 2009).
Child marriage is common in poor and underprivileged areas including Assuit, Sohag, Fayoum, and areas with strong tribal systems such as New Village, and the Sinai Peninsula, where hundreds of Bedouin tribes engage in this practice. Furthermore, child marriage can be found in big cities such as Alexandria, Giza and including the country’s capital, Cairo. According to a study conducted in rural communities of Egypt, 36 % of married women are married under the age of sixteen (UNICEF, 2005). In some districts such as El Hawamdia and Badrashen, around 45 - 50% of young girls are forced by family members, community members, and religious leaders to marry rich older men for money before their eighteenth birthday (NCCM, 2012). These marriages, which are close to prostitution, can last for 5 days, 2 days or even an hour (NCCM, 2012). As a result, these girls are abandoned and left either pregnant, taken by force to serve as maids in Egyptian homes and/or the Gulf in abusive settings where they are malnourished and beaten or even sexually abused by other members of the husband’s family; abortions that may lead to death or hysterectomy; birth of children with no father and hence no national identity nor birth certificate (United Nations, 2012). 

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According to a study conducted by the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM) on underage girls’ marriage in Egypt, the main reasons for this phenomena can be summarized as follows: poverty, widespread ignorance and high illiteracy rates among families; lack of knowledge of dangers and negative consequences of underage marriage; and lack of securing protection for victims. Extreme poverty is a result of lack of good governance, lack of other economic opportunities and high perception of corruption, which leads parents to arrange marriage for their daughters to relieve themselves from financial burdens. In these contexts, marriage can literally mean one fewer mouth to feed. In addition, the girl’s family receives a ‘bride price’ of money or livestock from the husband, so marriage also becomes a way of bringing much needed resources into the family
Issues of underage girls’ marriage are not prioritized in the agenda of the agenda of the Egyptian government, numerous of Non-governmental Organizations or human rights organizations, political parties, law enforcement organizations, media, and religious institutions (United Nations, 2012). As a result, there is lack of information regarding the gravity of such behavior, including its consequences for the girls who are involved. And since the content of other related mass media is monopolized by producers from the Gulf area, the media set by them plays a large part in the negative dissemination of the phenomena of early marriages, girls working as housemaids, and ridiculing and minimizing the extent by which these girls are subject to the most horrendous forms of violence and exploitation (United Nations, 2012).
In light of the above, female victims in rural areas face many obstacles in their access to services, including health services such as proper clinical care or even hospital care when required (NCCM, 2012). Additionally, these girls often have no access to important resources, such as legal assistance, vocational training, financial assistance (e.g. micro and small loans for self-employment, postpaid sales opportunities, working from home opportunities, etc.), other employment opportunities, and reading and writing and informal education outlets which might help to empower them or improve their economic and social situation (NCCM, 2012).
In this context, this paper will analyze the current situation of underage girl's marriage in poor and underprivileged areas of Egypt. It will highlight the root causes and effects of this phenomenon based on a literature review and my experience as a development practitioner for more than 12 years in Egypt, eight years of which was mainly focused on fighting violence against women and gender issues. The paper will criticize and tackle the absence of governmental and non-governmental policies regarding underage girls’ marriage, the poverty plague, and the traditional-social and cultural norms in Egypt. In addition, it will demonstrate the consequences of this issue and propose recommendations to reduce the underage girl’s marriage phenomenon0
The marriage of underage girls in Egypt or Middle East for that matter is a widespread social tradition, particularly in the rural areas. In Egypt, one in seven girls gets married before her eighteenth birthday. The families of such girls may have a notion that it is in the best interest of their daughters. But in the process, they fail to realize that they are violating their daughters’ human rights. Egypt being the most populous Arab country also has the distinction of largest number of child brides in the region. As far as legal system of Egypt is concerned, Egyptian girls and women are conferred with very few rights regarding marriage and, therefore, are left with limited protection. The laws are also not enough to prohibit domestic violence or espousal abuse. The Egyptian Personal Law, which is also based on Shari’ah governs the institution of marriage in Egypt. This makes families unable to resist these laws let alone their daughters. Moreover, wealthy Saudi businessmen have made the situation worse, who regularly travel to Egypt to purchase young Egyptian brides. The more concerning aspect of the underage marriage in Egypt is that there is a direct link between child marriage and physical abuse. There are as many as 30 percent of young married women who fall victim to violence by their husbands and over 40 percent of them have reported being beaten up during pregnancy (Korson & Esposito, 1983). However, Egypt has also taken positive steps such as it has lodged a reservation against child marriage in African Charter. Also, in 2008, the age of consent was raised to 18 by an amendment to Egypt’s child protection laws.
The presence of this situation is likely to impact the sustainable development of the society within the country. The sustainable development of the society largely depends on the presence of balanced approach towards all the activities. The actions that are not conducive to the sustainable society should not be in existence. The paper has considered no terminological difference between the ‘underage girls’ marriage’ and the ‘child marriage’, therefore both the phrase can be found to be used interchangeably. 
This research paper is intended to understand the widespread phenomenon described above in detail. The sub-sections ahead consider the various aspects of this research, namely, research question, research aims and objectives, and research limitations.

Research Question

What are the implications on sustainable development of the society due to the underage girls’ marriage in Egypt?
Based on this research question, there are multiple research questions that have been developed as below: 
What is the prevalence of underage girls’ marriage in Egypt?
What are the factors that impact the societies’ sustainability?
Is there any correlation between the girl child marriage and societies’ sustainable development?
Do underage girls’ marriages impact the growth of the society?
Research Aim
The research aim is to understand the implications on sustainable development of the society due to the underage girls’ marriage in Egypt.

Research Objectives

Mentioned below are the research objectives based on the research aim:
To understand the prevalence of girl child’s marriage in Egypt.
To understand the factors that impacts the societies’ sustainability.
To understand the correlation between the girl child marriage and societies’ sustainable development.
To understand whether the underage girls’ marriage has significant impact onv the growth of the society.

Research Limitations

The research is being conducted in Cairo and, therefore the widespread applicability of the research will be limited. Moreover, the respondents selected for the study are few and therefore the researchers assuming this study is advised to go ahebad with few more respondents and further studies. 

Research Methods

This sections deals with the methodologies that have been identified for the research. The section is divided into various aspects. The first section has discussed the selection of secondary, primary or mixed approach. The next sub-section on research philosophy discusses whether positivism should be preferred over interpretivism. The sub-section on research population discusses the sample selected for the study which is followed by the questionnaire, tools and techniques for the study.


There are two approaches for the research, namely, quantitative and qualitative. The former requires the researchers to search for studies that have been already conducted by the previous researches along with the data sets that are available with the various private and public agencies. The primary research is concerned with the development of the questionnaire and distribution of the same to the respondents (Ohgaki et al, 2014). The collected data is then passed through the suitable statistical analysis to reach appropriate results. 
This study has considered the mixed approach where it has considered the use of primary as well as secondary research. The literature review has been conducted to understand the studies that have already been conducted in relation to the topic. The purpose of the same is to understand the gaps that are present in the study. The subsequent hypotheses have been developed based on the literature review. The hypotheses will be then tested using the results obtained through the primary research. 

Research Philosophy

The selection of positivism philosophy or interpretivism philosophy is imperative for the successful research study. As for positivism and interpretivism, the positivist’s approach is always bent towards exploratory quantitative techniques such as social reviews, organized surveys and the valuable insights from the ground that possess unwavering qualities. A positivist views that society should mold an individual and his stand in the public perception shapes his activities (Patton & Patton, 2002). The interpretivists, on the other hand, lean towards the humanistic subjective strategies such as unorganized meetings and member perceptions. Interpretivists argue that the virtue of being humans is not     that we should respond to the outer social strengths and people are complicated and diverse individuals. Even if they encounter the same phenomena, they will comprehend and target them in completely different ways and will develop their own understanding and explanations
The research approaches being used in this report are inductive and deductive ones. The inductive approach is used over and over again as part of the research target because the speculation of occasions is a procedure that provides structure to each and every exploratory science. These assumptions are situated on a basis level, so the perception of the research leads to investigative speculation. In deductive approach, we use a subjective procedure that takes into account general comprehensions as far as using logical procedures for achieving a specific result is concerned. Therefore, the use of using this technique results a comprehension with maximum assurance. It also utilizes an arrangement of theories to achieve a conclusion. The deductive approach being an instrument of exploratory learning is convincingly realized with our human experience and senses, which is called the reason (Perreault, 2011).
The paper has considered positivism approach over interpretivism, and inductive philosophy has been considered over the deductive.


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Research Population

The sample size of 100 respondents has been selected for the study. 
Research Sample
The sample identification will be done using the convenient sampling technique.
Statistical Tools and Techniques
The descriptive analysis will be used to understand the data and correlation analysis will be used to understand the relationship among the various independent variables and the dependent variable.


  • Korson, J. & Esposito, J. (1983). Women in Muslim Family Law. Journal Of Marriage And The Family, 45(1), 237.

  • Marriage. Validity. Marriage below the Age of Consent. (1927). Harvard Law Review, 40(4), 654.

  • Namoro, S., & Roushdy, R. (2009). Intrahousehold resource allocation in Egypt: women     empowerment     and investment in children. Middle East Development Journal. 

  • Nour, N. M. (2009). Child marriage: a silent health and human rights issue. Retrieved from

  • Patton, M. & Patton, M. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.

  • Perreault, K. (2011). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches.Manual Therapy, 16(1), 103.

  • Saunders, M. N. (2011). Research methods for business students, 5/e. Pearson Education India.            

  • The National Council for Childhood and Motherhood- NCCM. (2012) Study on Young and     Underage Girls     in Egypt. Retrieved from http://www.child-

  • The Protection Project. (2011). A Human Rights Report on Trafficking in Persons, Especially     Women and     Children. Retrieved from    content/uploads/2010/09/Egypt.pdf

  • The United Nations. (2012). Trafficking in women and Girls Report of the Secretary-General.     Retrievedrom    glish/&Lang=A

  • UNICEF. (2005). Early marriage a harmful traditional practice a statistical exploration 2005.     Unicef.     Retrived from    h6oSVQwC&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=early+marriage+Egypt&ots=SuMC73pmXs&sig=qcJDwXdxkGD    DJBUQzdX-TgsOmZQ#v=onepage&q=early%20marriage%20Egypt&f=false

  • Ohgaki, H., Burger, P., & Kleihues, P. (2014). Definition of primary and secondary glioblastoma—response. Clinical Cancer Research, 20(7), 2013-2013. 

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