In a horrific testament to the dangers of child marriage, a 16-year-old girl reportedly attempted to commit suicide in Lebanon in the aftermath of her recent divorce.
Sources told women's rights organization Sharika Wa Laken that the teen, identified as N. H., jumped off the roof of her parent's house in Arsal a little over a week ago. She has been in intensive care since.
Sharika Wa Laken reports that N. H. had been forced to marry her cousin after his former fiancée broke up with him. Two years later, he decided to divorce N. H. because they were not getting along well.
After she returned to their house, her parents banned her from going out or returning to school, blaming her for her failed marriage and claiming the divorce brought "shame" upon the family.
She subsequently attempted to commit suicide by jumping off her parent's roof.
While the organization's sources confirmed N. H. did not own a cellphone, her family did not admit it was a suicide attempt and instead claimed she fell while trying to pick up WiFi signal.
The teen was rushed to Chtoura Hospital and was still in intensive care on Dec. 15 when Sharika Wa Laken published its report.
The organization contacted the Head of the Public Relations Division at the Internal Security Forces, Joseph Moussallem, who said the hospital should have reported the incident to authorities.
However, according to the organization's sources, the hospital did not fulfill that obligation.
Not an isolated incident
Child marriage is a problem in countries around the world, including the United States. One in five girls worldwide are said to be married before the age of 18.
According to a 2016 report by the World Economic Forum, 117 countries across the globe allow child marriages, either because there is no age specification or it is allowed under certain circumstances.
In Lebanon, there is no minimum age for marriage, as each religious sect has distinct personal status laws governing marriage, divorce, and inheritance. Some of these laws allow girls younger than 15 to get married.
Women's rights groups in the country, such as KAFA and the Lebanese Democratic Women's Gathering (RDFL,) have regularly launched campaigns calling upon legislators to end child marriage and ban marriage before the age of 18.