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CHILD MARRIAGE: Yemen Minister Wants It Outlawed

Hooria Mashhour, Yemeni minister of Human Rights, at the 2013 Humanitarian Response Plan in Dubai on January 22, 2013.

After an 8-year-old girl reportedly died of internal injuries that she suffered on her wedding night in Yemen, the country’s human rights minister, Hooria Mashhour, said child marriage should be outlawed.

The reports emerged last week that a girl named Rawan, from the northern Yemeni town of Haradh, died a few days after being married off to a 40-year-old man.

International scandal quickly grew, as the alleged incident has once again brought attention to the extremely controversial issue of child marriage in Yemen.

Till now child marriage in Yemen is still legal.

Against a background of the numerous claims and counterclaims, Mashhour has declared enough is enough. She told CNN that the growing anger over the sad Rawan’s case has given Yemen an opportunity to “end this practice.”

“I personally have (talked to) the human rights coordinator for the ministry on the ground in Haradh,” said Mashhour, “and he informed me that nearly everyone he spoke to is denying the story, but he feels strongly suspicious. We feel people may be hiding information due to fear.”

CNN spoke with several locals who requested anonymity, as they feared possible reprisals. “No one is talking about this story because its an embarrassment, but this is what poverty can do to people,” said one of the residents.

Child marriage in Yemen

In deeply tribal and conservative Yemen, according to rights group Human Rights Watch , more than half of all young girls there are married before age 18. About 14% of girls in Yemen are married before age 15.

In 2009, Yemen’s parliament passed legislation raising the minimum age of marriage to 17, but conservative parliamentarians argued the bill violated Islamic law, which does not stipulate a minimum age of marriage, and the bill was never signed.

Several Yemeni child bride cases have emerged that have shocked the world over the last few years. In 2008, 10-year-old Nujood Ali became an international sensation when she went to a court in Sanaa and asked for a divorce. After a highly publicized trial, her demand was met.

In 2010, a 12-year-old Yemeni bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after she was married off to an older man, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund.


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