CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi decreed that a reservation on Article 21/2 of the African Charter of the Rights and Welfare of the Child (ACRWC) be withdrawn.
The article, issued in 1990, stipulates that children may not be married or engaged, and that African states must take effective measures to ban marriage before 18 and to make marriage documentation in an official registry compulsory.
The reservation will officially be removed in March 2016, according to the Official Gazette.
Egypt still has four other reservations related to the death penalty on mothers, allowing the committee on the ACRWC to receive complaints regarding non-compliance to the charter and to investigate violations.
A total of 88,000 Urfi ( unofficial, but some argue Islamically sound) marriages were converted into registered marriages in 2014; 62,000 of whom were of girls who were below 18 when they got married, according to the annual report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS.)
Urfi marriage is a kind of partnership that does not require official registration and can be arranged in secret. Although it does not guarantee any rights for the spouses, some families in rural areas marry their girls off below the legal age of marriage to follow their tradition of early marriage, especially since many of the girls drop out of school early on.