JAFFA, Israel – A 9-year-old boy got engaged to an 8-year-old girl in the Egyptian town of Shirbin, Egyptian news media reported.
Mahmoud Hassan Abu Atiya, a fourth grade pupil, is set to marry his relative, Nabila Abu Atiya, a third grade pupil. The engagement ceremony was held before hundreds of guests, belly dancers and a DJ, in one of the town’s most luxurious venues.
The comic relief of the evening came when one of the revelers carried the couple in his arms to the dance floor.
Video of the engagement ceremony was posted online by El Watan, a leading Egyptian newspaper. You can see it below:
News of the young couple’s engagement drew criticism on social media, including from some Muslims who said that the ceremony contradicts the tradition and principles of Islam.
Reda el-Danbouki, Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Legal Counseling, slammed the children’s parents, saying the engagement was an “assault on childhood.”
Danbouki stated that a woman under the age of 18 is a minor who has yet to achieve physical, mental, emotional and social maturity and therefore should not be forced into a future marriage.
“She is a person who is not yet capable of exploring herself and bear the responsibility of leading an adult life, and more specifically, a family life,” he said. “The child is a prisoner and in less than a year will become a mother, which will prevent her from ever playing a meaningful role in society.”
Danbouki said that for the girl an early marriage means dropping out of school, bearing many children and confining herself to nothing more than domestic life. “Other than the fact that the move breaches children’s rights laws and international conventions that seeks to ensure children’s rights to education and personal development.”