Seasonal or tourist marriage is a wide-spread phenomena in Egypt that women’s rights and feminist organization are struggling to end. In this type of marriage, non-Egyptian men vacationing in the country marry girls much younger than them for an undetermined period of time that usually ends by divorce leaving girls in a vulnerable situation emotionally, physically, psychological and economically.
To confront this phenomena, Life Foundation for Development and Integration (previously known as Start Initiative for Social Justice and Human Rights (SICJHR)) mobilized number of associations, volunteers, physicians, lawyers and legal consultants, and religious figures with the aim of spreading awareness on the devastating consequences of this type of marriage on girls and their families, as well as providing psycho-social and legal support to girls who were involved in “tourist” marriages.
The mobilization took the form of a multi-phased campaign where 50 volunteers explored the extent of “tourist” and “seasonal” marriages in villages and towns of the three governorates of Sharkia,Ismailya and Port Said, through questionnaires assessing the social, economic, legal and health dimensions and repercussions of these marriages, while spreading awareness among families and parents regarding this issue. These door-to-door visits also served for mapping and monitoring the main places were tourist marriages are taking place the most.
Simultaneously, 200 volunteers provided psycho-social support and legal consultations to over 3000 girls and 2000 families, and managed to gain people’s confidence as many girls contacted SICJHR and Life Foundation’s lawyers asking for help as they were pushed into “tourist” marriage.
The volunteers also managed to collect signatures of over 1500 people on a petition against the tourist and seasonal marriages, on paper and online.
The campaign was also communicated widely through various TV channels and newspapers, in addition to flyers and printed materials that was distributed in the three targeted governorates.
Additionally, two social media platforms were created on Facebook and Twitter under the campaign’s slogan “Our daughters are not for sale” to mobilize the public opinion against “tourist” marriage, as well as to push for the adoption of new legislations criminalizing the marriage of minors.
This campaign was conducted within the framework of the CSO WINS project "Capacity building in the Southern Mediterranean to open policy dialogue and policy monitoring for women in society "funded by the European Union, in synergy with the Foundation’s action.
For more information on this, you can watch this interview with the executive director of Life Foundation, Ms. Nermin Bahttiti. You can also check the below listed youtibe which features one of the awerness campaigns in Bahr Al Baqar village.
This platform is part of the Axis 1 “Strengthening the capacities of equality actors” of the Priority Solidarity Fund “Women for the future in the Mediterranean” funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women’s Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.