Tiny Voices Defy Fate of Yemen’s Girls

Today I was at the UN attending the 41st session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and it was the turn of Yemen to report and be examined. According to the government of Yemen’s own report there is no minimum age for marriage in that country. Girls as young as eight are routinely married to much older men. Temporary marriage is also common. Wealthy male tourists marry little girls while visiting Yeman and divorce them when they leave.

Girls who marry before the age of 18 are more likely than unmarried girls to die younger, suffer from health problems, live in poverty and remain illiterate. They usually bear children before they are physically or emotionally ready and are thus nearly five times more likely to die during child birth and even more likely to lose the baby. They are more likely to contract STDs, including HIV/AIDS, than unmarried girls.

Yemen is a signatory to both the Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Woman and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Forced early marriage and the temporary marriage of little girls to adult men are violations of these conventions, but there seems to be a lack of political will to end these practices. Instead religion is used to cloak them with respectability.

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One thought on “Tiny Voices Defy Fate of Yemen’s Girls”

  1. Present time, child marriage is a curse in the global society. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. In most cases young girls get married off to significantly older men when they are still children. Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in India, Niger, Bangladesh, Pakistan Guinea, Burkina Faso, Africa and Nepal,where mostly girls are married below the age of 18.
    Child marriage has its own worse effect on the young girls, society, her children and health. Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 11-13 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are
    twice as likely to die.

    The above is an extract from Arun Kumar essay “Child Marriage as an Human Rights Issue”. This essay was ranked among the top ten essay in Human Rights Defence’s Essay competition 2008. If you would like to read more, visit: http://www.humanrightsdefence.org

    Yours sincerely,

    Tomas Eric Nordlander
    HumanRightsDefence

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