As noted in this monograph, marriage forms a central element of social life for Egyptians. Marriage in Egypt is nearly universal, and parents invest heavily to establish their children in married life. Once married, couples are faced with social pressures to begin childbearing immediately, a reflection of the high value placed on parenthood and children. But not all marriages begin with the same prospects for stability and satisfaction. This study draws attention to the problems faced by women who marry at very early ages in parts of rural Egypt. Despite a legal minimum age of 16, significant numbers of young girls marry below that age, and many experience social, emotional, and health-related difficulties. This study tells why these young women married early and how that decision affected their later life. The study points to areas where the aspirations of these girls have been clearly thwarted—to go to school, delay marriage, and postpone childbearing until they feel physically and psychologically ready. A related picture emerges of the social and economic forces that propel rural girls into marriage at very young ages. Each of these problems suggest areas for policy attention.
El Hamamsy, Laila. 1994. "Early Marriage and Reproduction in Two Egyptian Villages." Cairo: Population Council.