Egypt has an unusual law known as the “seasonal marriage” law, and the government says it’s aimed at helping the many poor families who resort to selling their daughters into temporary or long-term marriages with wealthy, older foreign men to support themselves.
Egypt’s Justice Ministry says it will begin strictly enforcing that law, which requires foreign men — usually from Gulf countries — to pay to marry women 25 years or more their junior. And it’s increasing the amount the men must pay. All this, it says, is to protect Egyptian women.
Human rights groups say the law formalizes sex trafficking and bolsters a business that preys on the poor and the vulnerable.
People like Hind.
Hind is 27 years old. She is ashamed. And because of that, she asks me to use only her first name when she recounts her story.
Two years ago, a marriage broker came to the one-room apartment that she, her four sisters, her invalid father and her ailing mother shared.
Hind worked different jobs, mostly in retail, to support them all on less than $100 a month.
Hind says the broker spoke to her father. After he left, her father explained that there was a 59-year-old Saudi man who wanted to marry a young Egyptian woman. He’d pay about $2,000 to marry Hind for two months while he was visiting Egypt.
Her father said, “Hind, you see the life that we’re living and what this money will do for us,” she recalls. “I said, ‘OK, I will do it.’ ”
Her mother pleaded with her not to. Hind’s mother said she’d rather beg than sell her daughter. But Hind thought the money could go to medicine for her sick mom and to help her sisters.
She quickly realized she’d made a mistake.
“I was disgusted by him. I was with a man older than my father,” she says. “But it didn’t matter. I’d already sold myself, sacrificed myself to rescue my family.”
She cries often during our conversation. A few weeks after the marriage, her mother died — of sadness, Hind believes. When the agreed-on two months were over, she moved back in with her family. Now they’re in a slightly bigger apartment in a new neighborhood, where people won’t know her story.
“I was an innocent girl who believed in love and marriage,” Hind says. “Now I hate the word ‘marriage.’ ”
Read the full story from Leila Fadel at NPR: Click Here