Egypt: Law limits age gap between spouses to 25 years

The Egyptian authorities have banned a 92-year-old man from marrying a 17-year-old girl, the Egyptian al-Akhbar newspaper has reported.
The ministry of justice invoked a law which says the age gap between spouses should not exceed 25 years.
Egypt brought in the law prohibiting the marriage of elderly men to very young girls during the Gulf oil boom. It was an effort to prevent wealthy men from the Gulf states seeking young poor brides from the Egyptian countryside.

Not much is known about the 92-year-old man who tried to marry an Egyptian girl of 17 except that he is an Arab from the Gulf.

An Egyptian justice official said by refusing to endorse their marriage it would now be impossible for the girl to travel abroad with her husband.

However, in special cases, the justice ministry does allow foreign men to marry Egyptian women more than 25 years their junior if they deposit a very large sum of money in the name of their wife at the Egyptian National Bank.

Both husband and wife also have to report in person to the ministry which checks their marriage is genuine to prevent any kind of trafficking in women.

According to the al-Akhbar newspaper, 173 such marriages were allowed in the past year after the foreign husband deposited a sum equivalent to about US $8,000 and was screened.

By: Frances Harrison
BBC News
13 June 2008