A video by the Lebanese human rights group KAFA aims to shine a light on the issue of child marriages in the Middle East. An estimated 37,000 child marriages occur every day, and KAFA estimates that over 15 million young girls are forced into marriage every year.
The video’s 12-year-old bride and middle-aged groom are both actors in this case. In the video, the bride and groom pose for wedding photos on a boardwalk near the ocean.
As the couple posed for pictures, many of the onlookers stopped. Although one man congratulated the groom on his young bride, the rest of the crowd reacted with disgust and anger. One of the passersby told the groom that he was a criminal, while several others stopped to ask the girl if she was doing okay.
One woman reacted powerfully and refused to leave the girl’s side until she was safe and away from her new husband. Although child marriage is still legal in Lebanon, the woman refused to allow the groom to exploit a child in front of her.
KAFA, which means “enough” in Arabic, hired the actors and created the video with the ultimate goal of having the practice outlawed. In certain parts of Lebanon, parents can give permission for their child to marry as young as 9. At 14, a child can marry without any permission.
In recent months, child abuse has become a more prominent topic in Lebanon. Last year, the Lebanese National Commission for Women’s Affairs introduced a bill to parliament that would make it much harder for children to be married off at such a young age. Currently, underage marriages can be approved by a religious tribunal.
Featured image via screen grab