On Monday, a heated debate on civil marriage surfaced, yet again, in Lebanon.

This came after the country's newly appointed Interior Minister Raya El Hassan voiced her support for establishing civil laws governing personal status matters, including marriage. 

"I personally prefer if there was a framework for civil marriage, and this is something that I will try to open room for a serious and deep discussion on," said El Hassan, according to The Daily Star.

Lebanon's highest Sunni authority - Dar al-Fatwa - responded by saying its stance on the matter remains the same.

"The stance of (Grand) Mufti (Sheikh Abdul Latif) Derian, Dar al-Fatwa, the juristic council and the council of muftis, which categorically rejects and opposes civil marriage in Lebanon, has been well-known for years," Dar al-Fatwa said in a statement.

The religious authority added that it believes civil marriage "fully contradicts with the rules of Islamic Sharia." 

But, what about child marriage?

As a country with multiple religions, the Lebanese law grants the authority to the various religious courts over personal matters, leaving women under sectarian personal status laws rather than a unified governmental one. Thus, women are left exactly where they have always been regarding personal matters including marriage and other familial issues, perpetuating the discrimination and oppression even further. 

For example, 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.

"The draft law cannot be approved in parliament without taking into consideration the viewpoint and stance of Dar al-Fatwa and the rest of religious authorities in Lebanon," Dar al-Fatwa's statement said.

In the aftermath of Dar al-Fatwa's statement, many were quick to point out the hypocrisy. 

"So, civil marriage is prohibited in Islam, but child marriage is OK?" one Twitter use wrote.

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.

"Lebanon: Where child marriage is allowed and civil marriage isn't"

In December, a 16-year-old Lebanese girl reportedly attempted to commit suicide in the aftermath of her divorce, a horrific testament to the dangers of child marriages.

The girl - identified as N. H. - was reportedly 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 her 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 parents' roof.

"If you don't want civil marriage then don't get a civil marriage ... but don't prevent others from doing so"

The religious authority's statement also sparked a discussion among social media users under the Arabic hashtag #CivilMarriage. Many people in the country are advocating for the establishment of civil codes for personal status matters, which include marriage and divorce. 

Currently, many Lebanese who opt to have a civil marriage travel abroad to do so. Cyprus is the most commonly known destination; some travel agencies even provide packages to facilitate the process for couples.

According to a 2015 Human Rights Watch report, those who marry under a civil code abroad do so for one of two reasons. Either because they want to refrain from being subject to religious laws or because they are from different religious backgrounds. 

The Lebanese Court of Cassation, the country's highest court, recognizes these marriages in accordance with Article 25 of Decree 60LR. Their marriage contract is governed by the respective country's civil code. 

"More than 800 Lebanese couples married in civil ceremonies in Cyprus in 2011," according to HRW.

"As long as it is optional, why oppose it?"

"We are in a country of freedoms: so each person should have the liberty of choosing between religious or civil marriage."

"I am a Lebanese Christian who wants to get married in the church ... yet I support the establishment of civil codes for marriage"

"Civil marriage is a right"