1 Dec 2010

Another child 'bride' dies in Yemen, Islamic leaders strongly oppose any law against forced marriage of minors

Daily Mail - UK April 10, 2010

Child bride, 13, dies of internal injuries four days after arranged marriage in Yemen

By Mail Foreign Service

A 13-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal injuries four days after a family-arranged marriage to a man almost twice her age, a human rights group said.

Ilham Mahdi al Assi died last Friday in a hospital in Yemen's Hajja province, the Shaqaeq Arab Forum for Human Rights said, quoting a medical report.

She was married the previous Monday in a traditional arrangement known as a 'swap marriage', in which the brother of the bride also married the sister of the groom, it said.

Sigrid Kaag, regional director for UNICEF, said in a statement that the United Nations child agency was 'dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen'.

'Elham is a martyr of abuse of children's lives in Yemen and a clear example of what is justified by the lack of limits on the age of marriage,' SAF said in a statement.

A medical report from al-Thawra hospital said she suffered a tear to her genitals and severe bleeding.

The Yemeni rights group said the girl was married off in an agreement between two men to marry each other's sisters to avoid having to pay expensive bride-prices.

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and drew the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.

Legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry is in serious peril after strong opposition from some of Yemen's most influential Islamic leaders.

The group said that was a common arrangement in the deeply impoverished country.

Yemen's gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars for their daughters.

More than a quarter of Yemen's females marry before age 15, according to a report last year by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

Last month, a group of the country's highest Islamic authorities declared those supporting a ban on child marriages to be apostates.

A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament's constitutional committee for review after some politicians called it un-Islamic. The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation this month.

Some of the clerics who signed the decree against a ban sit on the committee.

Further imperilling the effort is the weak government's reluctance to confront the clerics and other conservative tribal officials, whose support is essential to their fragile hold on power.

The issue of Yemen's child brides got widespread attention three years ago when an eight-year-old girl boldly went by herself to a courtroom and demanded a judge dissolve her marriage to a man in his 30s.

She eventually won a divorce, and legislators began looking at ways to curb the practice.

In September, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labour to give birth, a local human rights organisation said.

Yemen once set 15 as the minimum age for marriage, but parliament annulled that law in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.

This article was found at:



12-year-old child 'bride' dies during painful child-birth, baby dies too

With no minimum age in Yemen, forced child-bride marriages result in children having children

Tiny Voices Defy Child Marriage in Yemen

Saudi marriage official says ok to marry 1-year-old girls & have sex with 9-year-olds

Saudi mother asks for divorce for daughter (8)


  1. 8-year-old Yemeni child dies at hands of 40-year-old husband on wedding night

    Albawaba.com September 9th, 2013

    Al Nahar, Lebanon, has reported that an eight year old child bride died in Yemen on her wedding night after suffering internal injuries due to sexual trauma. Human rights organizations are calling for the arrest of her husband who was five times her age.

    The death occurred in the tribal area of Hardh in northwestern Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia. This brings even more attention to the already existing issue of forced child marriages in the Middle Eastern region.

    "According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15."

    It is reported that over a quarter of Yemen's young girls are married before the age of 15. Not only do they lose access to health and education, these child brides are commonly subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence in their forced marriage.

    One of the main issues is that there is currently no consistent established definition of a "child" that has been agreed upon worldwide. This leaves various interpretations within countries and little protection for those who are affected.

    Establishing this age limit is among the top priorities of groups like HRC which was responsible for publishing the 54-page report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”, documenting the lifelong damage to girls who are forced to marry young. Most pro age-limit organizations agree that 18 should be the legal age for marriage.

    In February 2009, a law was created in Yemen that set the minimum age for marriage at 17. Unfortunately, it was repealed after more conservative lawmakers called it un-Islamic.


  2. Yemen father burns teen to death for contacting fiance

    Some traditional tribal customs prohibit contact between engaged couples before marriage

    by Thomson Reuters October 23, 2013

    A Yemeni father has burned his 15-year-old daughter to death for keeping in touch with her fiancé, police said, sparking further outrage in Yemen, where an eight-year-old girl died from internal bleeding on her wedding night a month ago.

    Police said a 35-year-old man had been arrested after the teenager's death in a remote village in the Taiz province.

    "The father committed this heinous crime on the pretext that his daughter had been keeping contacts with her fiancé," the police website said on Tuesday, giving no further details.

    Some local news websites reported that the father had caught the girl chatting by telephone with her fiancé.

    Traditional tribal customs in parts of Yemen prohibit contacts between men and women before marriage. Poverty and concern about "family honour" prompt many Yemenis to marry off their daughters young, often below the age of 18, a practice that has been criticized by international rights groups.

    Yemeni authorities said last month they were investigating the death of the eight-year-old girl in northern Yemen, and that they would prosecute those responsible.


  3. Yemen police stop childs wedding

    By Sebastian Usher BBC News November 8, 2013

    The human rights ministry in Yemen says that one of its officials has managed to stop the wedding of a nine-year-old girl, due to take place on Friday.

    An official told the BBC it was the first such intervention to stop a child marriage in Yemen.

    The child, Hiba, was due to have been married on 8 November in the southern city of Taiz.

    The issue of young Yemeni girls being married off by their families has drawn growing international concern.

    Some of the families are motivated by the traditional dowry system.

    Hiba's story is not unusual in Yemen.

    She is looked after by her father, who married again after Hiba's mother died.

    An official from the local office of the human rights ministry heard about the planned wedding. The ministry has put the issue of child marriage at the very top of its agenda.

    The official contacted the police station near where Hiba lives, and the police decided to intervene.

    They spoke to Hiba's father and persuaded him not to marry his daughter off.

    Fuad al-Ghaffari, a senior official in the office of the Human Rights Minister, Hooria Mashhour, said he was proud of the action taken by his colleague, as well as the police.

    He told the BBC that it was the first time such an intervention had taken place.

    The women's rights group, Equality Now, has listed the stories of some of the young girls who have been through this experience.

    Wafa, it says, was married at 11 to a 40-year-old who raped and tortured her. A lawyer hired by the group and the Yemeni Women Union managed to arrange her divorce.

    Another 11-year-old, Fawziya, died in childbirth.

    Salwa, a 12-year-old girl, killed herself by throwing herself off a roof.

    A recent, widely-reported case, which was not officially corroborated, of an eight-year-old girl said to have died of internal injuries after her wedding night, prompted renewed calls for action.


    The Yemeni Human Rights Ministry is trying to build pressure at every level of government to bring in a legally-sanctioned minimum marriage age to stop such abuse.

    Officials there say they are making some progress, suggesting that the minister of legal affairs may soon propose a draft law.

    There have also been moves to try to enshrine in the new constitution being drafted a clause to end child marriage and make the minimum age 18. But powerful traditional elements, including religious clerics and tribal leaders, remain opposed and say they will block this.

    As for Hiba, her fate still remains in the balance.

    Without any legal sanction, human rights officials say there is nothing to stop her still being married off at a later date.

    Related Stories on the BBC website:

    Yemen minister seeks child bride law 13 SEPTEMBER 2013, MIDDLE EAST
    Girl's online plea highlights plight of Yemen's child brides 26 JULY 2013, MIDDLE EAST
    What is it like to be a child bride? 03 OCTOBER 2011, MAGAZINE
    Yemeni child bride fights for divorce 05 JANUARY 2010, MIDDLE EAST
    Yemeni bride 'bleeds to death' 08 APRIL 2010, MIDDLE EAST
    Yemen profile 26 OCTOBER 2013, MIDDLE EAST