Early marriages- a topic at awarness sessions in Beirut

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29 november 2018

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Early marriage awareness sessions in Saida

Early marriage awareness sessions in Saida

Awareness sessions for young girls in Saida, Lebanon are held on a monthly basis. On  the 9th of November, thirteen girls between the ages of  11 to 15 participated in the session to discuss the challenges related to early marriage.

The Mental Health Program of Maarouf Saad Social and Cultural Foundation offers women and children in the old city of Saida and its surroundings a safe place with a focus on educational and cognitive development, and psychological well-being. The activities take place montly at the Mada community center, which has moved to the Saida Wataniyeh. The facility is now able to reach more women and children and offers therapeutic and recreational activities with their new and larger community based center.

MSSCF conducts monthly awareness sessions for young girls, an offer that reach about 80 girls on an annual basis. An awareness session was held by two social workers on the 9th of November where thirteen girls from the Syrian refugee community between the ages of 11 to 15 years participated. The topic of the day was to discuss the challenges related to early marriage. The girls were able to participate in discussions with the social workers about education, future goals and the negative effects of early marriage. This generated lively dialogues about this particular subject and raised awareness about their rights and options.

Early marriage is a rising practice among Syrian refugees in Lebanon a direct consequence of the Syrian conflict and displacement of their people. Many families are struggling financially, and early marriage is viewed as a suitable alternative to protect the girls from sexual harassment and provide a more secure financial future. The breakdown of social networks and an unstable financial situation leads to a fear of safety for many families. Combined with less vocational and educational opportunities, early marriage is often viewed as the best alternative to secure a girl’s future.

As these topics are a focus for the children attending the Mada Community Center, the girls seemed to be aware of their options and highlighted the importance of education throughout the whole session. The girls were very enthusiastic and eager to discuss the topic of early marriage while raising many good questions and sharing experiences from their communities. They also expressed the importance of these sessions as a good place to think about important subjects and ask questions in a safe place.