Yemen: young girls who are married early

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, 8 November.

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.

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.

Members of the body drafting a new constitution say they want 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.

This is an evil being perpetuated against young girls, leading to trauma and death. Ask God how to pray for these young girls, and for this society that is battling to agree to care for girls.

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