Life Foundation for Development and Community Reintegration held a policy dialogue on March 25, 2019 to review the efforts made by the government to combat tourism marriage, and follow-up on the results of the campaign “Our Girls are not for sale”. Through this campaign which was developed in 2016-2017, Life Foundation explored the conditions of underage girls at risk of tourism marriage (a type of forced marriage with a short-term marriage contract) and documented the prevalence of cases in the governorates of Sharkia, Ismailia and Port Said.
The policy dialogue was moderated by Mr. Ahmed Abdulmajeed, Chairman of the Board of Shabab El Sharkia Association and counted with the participation of Dr. Abdulsalaam Sharaf, Researcher, Ms. Rania Fayad, Life Foundation’s Monitoring and evaluation officer, Ms. Nermeen ElBahtyty, Life Foundation’s CEO, and Mr. Atef Hafez, Campaign manager.
The policy dialogue gathered 45 political figures, decision makers, Members of Parliament (MPs), journalists, non-governmental organizations, syndicates, representatives of political parties and local and national authorities such as the national councils of the governorates of Sharkia, Ismailia, and Port Said and the Ministry of Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities. The attendees discussed the definitions of victims and perpetrators, and how to strengthen networking through a plan aimed at countering tourism marriages.
The policy dialogue contributed to raising awareness on the needs of victims and girls at risk of tourism marriage and called the concerned authorities to join efforts to facilitate the victims’ reporting of abuse and violence. From this perspective, the National Council for Childhood & Motherhood committed to provide assistance to them, while the National Council for Women agreed to collaborate with Life Foundation to establish a hotline for victims and girls at risk who do not know where they can find assistance.
The institutions must also develop mechanisms of support to take care of unacknowledged children born of these illegal tourism marriages. Moreover, all the stakeholders have agreed to put pressure on the MPs to take more actions to eliminate the phenomenon through amending the law and increasing the penalties for those involved in the crime (i.e. the marriage officers who legalize the tourism marriages).
The dialogue resulted on various recommendations such as conducting research on the reasons leading to tourism marriage; establishing a national committee of religious authorities, social workers, psychologists and lawyers to increase awareness raising; conducting campaigns to reach girls’ parents in the target areas, especially in marginalised neighbourhoods; conducting and supporting projects to rehabilitate the victims psychologically and socially and to empower them economically.
The dialogue’s results have been disseminated through four public newspapers and TV channels. The dialogue was held in Zaqaziq in Sharqia Governorate. This policy dialogue was one of the activities of the project CSO WINS ‘’Capacity-Building in the Southern Mediterranean to Open Policy Dialogue and Monitoring for Women in Society’’ which is funded by the European Union.
The project is coordinated by the European Institute of the Mediterranean within the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Women’s Foundation in partnership with the Palestinian Businesswomen’s Association – Asala, the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research, Association Djazairouna for the Victims of Terrorism, Forum Femmes Méditerranée, the Federation of Women´s Rights’ Leagues (Fédération des ligues des droits des femmes), the Euro-Mediterranean Academic and Scientific Network on Women and Gender (Réseau universitaire et scientifique euro-méditerranéen sur les femmes et le genre).
For more information and see the policy dialogue’s pictures, you can check here.
You can also learn more about the other policy dialogues organized within the framework of the project CSOWINS in 2019 by clicking here.
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 Europe and Foreign Affairs 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.