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Sheikh Sbeity is critical of the draft law to regulate early marriage


As Safir newspaper published last Saturday an article by Sheikh Youssef Ali Al Sbeity, a follower of the late Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadellallah commenting the draft law to regulate early marriages in Lebanon, which was submitted recently by MP Ghassan Mokhaiber in collaboration with the NCLW and which was posted on the WEEPortal on 30 September 2014. Sbeity noted that the draft law does not meet the expectations of civil society activists, adding that he favors the full banning of early marriage altogether especially in the case of girls. Sbeity based his arguments on his social and religious experience and highlighted the negative impact of early marriage.  He noted that some old women who went through early marriages confided in him saying that they regretted it, since they did not consent to it. Sbeity called for a law that would set the minimum age of marriage at 18 years especially since there was nothing in religious texts which prevented this practice.  He also added that 18 years is the legal age of consent when a marriage is contracted by choice. Sbeity insisted that the approval of the child's guardian is in no way sufficient and that it is the duty of guardians to seek the best interests of the child rather than to waive her/his responsibilities.
Sbeity concluded by emphasizing that Lebanon needs a reform in various personal status laws used by religious courts especially in cases of marriage where laws must be enacted to safeguard the right of women in cases of divorce and in terms of child custody.  He underscored that “Fatwas” just based on the moral authority of the clergy were no longer adequate and there was a need to formulate new binding laws that are compatible with the Sharia.

Source: Al-Safir 4 October 2014

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