Rising Rates of Child Marriage in Lebanon

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20% of underage girls in Lebanon are married before they turn 18

Among Lebanon’s economic collapse and emerging conflict at the southern border, the hidden plight of child marriage is growing.

The young children who enter these contracts before adulthood lose their right to innocence, education and an open future. Despite these formidable circumstances, however, education offers a way for young people to step outside of these expectations and define new futures for themselves.

A recent article published by Al Akhbar Newspaper reveals that child marriage is sharply increasing due to instability that families in Lebanon are facing. Now, 20% of girls of all nationalities in Lebanon are married before they are 18. Child marriage is highly gendered, with 87% of all child marriages involving girls.

These figures indicate how child marriage has become a common response to the circumstances in Lebanon. As a result, however, countless young girls and boys are being robbed of their childhood and forced into early adulthood.

War, displacement, inflation and economic collapse are the determining factors of Lebanon’s current living conditions. Since 2019, inflation rates have been soaring well over 200%. The food sector is bearing the brunt of the impact, concerningly, with prices rising over 208%. It has become exponentially more difficult to manage basic needs, such as buying groceries, and food insecurity is on the rise. Families are unable to afford imported goods and are relying on what they can independently grow and source.

The current conditions exacerbate pre-existing social issues as people struggle every day to simply survive. Faced with huge amounts of economic pressure, families are sometimes able to alleviate their economic burden by marrying off their daughters. In the process, they may hope to ensure more stable lives for their children and for themselves.

Nonetheless, the consequences of child marriage are devastating. Girls in particular are denied their right to education, which holds them back in a cycle of poverty. They also face increased health risks that come from early childbirth and maternal mortality. The perpetuation of this practice itself reinforces existing inequalities within communities and hinders the development of the collective.

In this landscape, education can be a powerful catalyst for change. The process of attending a school, joining a community of other young people and pushing their intellectual capabilities empowers girls to make their own choices. Educated girls are more likely to make informed decisions about their futures, pursue higher education and contribute meaningfully to their communities.

Initiatives like Anera’s child protection project work to mitigate the financial circumstances that push families toward child marriages. By providing education, awareness sessions and financial support to families with girls at a high risk of early marriage, Anera helps disrupt this cycle of poverty and oppression. Success stories from beneficiaries testify to the transformative power of education and demonstrate that change is possible even in the most challenging of circumstances.

The fight against child marriage is far from over, however. To eradicate it requires urgent action and increased investment in education and community-based initiatives. Furthermore, it will take a careful examination of how to end the economic and social instability in Lebanon.

Governments, NGOs and civil society must come together to address the root causes of child marriage and enact policies that protect the rights of children. Only then can we ensure that every girl and child has the opportunity to realize their full potential and be free from the shackles of child marriage.



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