Sunday, November 7, 2021

Education as a means to stop early child marriage

Now that is strange, I only saw this campaign yesterday on the road leading to Dora. But it seems to be from 2020. Well, apparently the purpose of the campaign is to educate little girls to prevent child marriage - which yes, is still rampant in the region. The ad goes a bit descriptive by portraying a girl in a wedding dress on one side and with the cap and gown on the own with the line "put me in my graduation dress". The campaign is sponsored by the Embassy of Finland in Lebanon and by the Malala Fund (in reference to Malala Youzafsai - the Pakistani activist).

Well, what worries me these days is a different matter.

Lately I spoke to a man - who supposedly went to Latvia to study medicine but eventually dropped out after 2 years. Long story short we were speaking about him sending his rather small children (2 boys) to a village school, and his reaction was: "it is too expensive, let them stay home, many parents are keeping their children away from school." To begin with these are boys we are speaking of, not girls. So whereas the campaign above targets girls, it is also interesting that even boys are being left out of school.

The other angle is a story from a long long time ago. In 1993 during my first field survey at AUB which I themed as a study to understand why girls were not sent to school in South Lebanon. The first house we visited it turned out they did send girls to school. OK, I thought, this is an exception. Second house, ditto. Third, fourth, fifth - ditto. By then I was in sweat, there was something wrong in my hypothesis. So in the following interview I asked the man: "Hajj, why do you send your daughters to school?" and he said "well, iza ma ija nassiba (if she did not end up getting married, she'll have her education and she can end up a teacher, the boy, if he doesn't go to school, fi ya3mel bansharji (he can open a tire fixing shop)".

Well, I realize the two examples might be antagonistic, but then again - welcome to Lebanon.