Child Bride’s Wedding Night Ends in Tragedy
It’s hard to imagine how frightening it must be for an eight-year-old girl to find herself getting married. While most eight-year-old girls around the world are playing with dolls and toys, quite a few Muslim girls in Yemen are facing their wedding days—to men who might be five times older than they are.
Although human rights activists have been urging the Yemeni government to ban these under-aged marriage for at least five years, clearly these warnings have been ignored. In fact, 25% of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 15, and over 50% before 18.
There is no legal age for marriage there–the law simply states that it is the parents’ decision when a daughter should be married.
In the tribal area of Meedi in Hardh, a province in the northwest of Yemen, one recent case of such a marriage ended in tragedy. After being statutorily raped by her 40-year-old “husband” on her wedding night, a young bride was taken to an emergency clinic, suffering from bleeding and uterine rupture from intercourse. The medics at the clinic were unable to save her life.
Although people worldwide are shocked and disturbed by this incident, local tribal chiefs originally tried to cover up the story, going so far as to warn a local journalist not to tell the story. Since then, however, at least two local residents have confirmed the incident, although a local security officer still denies it.
But how is this even happening in this modern day and age? Unfortunately, some Muslim men in Yemen consider it an honor to be married to a pre-pubescent girl (this practice goes all the way back to the prophet Muhammed.). And the families who give consent for their daughters to be married at this young age typically do so because they are poor and cannot afford to bring up daughters. Plus, the families often receive a large “bride price”, which means that they are essentially selling their daughters into sexual abuse and slavery to try to get out of poverty. Considering the fact that UN has reported that over half of Yemen’s citizens live in extreme poverty, this is no surprise.
Although activists have called for the arrest of the 40-year-old man who killed this young girl (who he claimed was his “wife”) by having sex with her, nothing as ever come out of this effort and local law has not changed.