While celebrating his eldest son’s lavish wedding, at which a number of famous singers and belly dancers performed, Nasser Hassan decided to “double the joy,” he later recalled.
He announced that his son Omar would marry his cousin Gharam.
At the wedding, held in a province about 75 miles north of Cairo, the guests didn’t find it strange. Some would later tell Egypt’s Al Watan newspaper that there was “nothing inappropriate,” adding that it was only “an engagement, not a marriage”.
Omar is 12 years old. His fiancee, Gharam, is 11.
Egyptian laws prohibit official registration for marriages for anyone under the age of 18. But the practice remains prevalent. According to UNICEF, 17 percent of Egyptian girls are married before the age of 18, the vast majority of the unions taking place in rural areas.
But in the case of Omar and Gharam, their engagement sparked outrage, particularly among child and women’s rights activists.