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.
Al Nahar, Lebanon, reported that 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 East.
“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 marriages.
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 at young ages.
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 Unfortunately, it was repealed after more conservative lawmakers called it un-Islamic.
Women’s Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity in Yemen
Women in Yemen face severe discrimination in law and practice. They cannot marry without the permission of their male guardian and do not have equal rights to divorce, inheritance, or child custody. Lack of legal protection leaves them exposed to domestic and sexual violence.
In the absence of a functioning government, no advances were made to pass a draft constitution that includes provisions guaranteeing equality and prohibiting discrimination based on gender, and a draft Child Rights Law that would criminalize child marriage and female genital mutilation. Forced marriage rates have increased during the ongoing conflict, according to UNFPA.