Yemen: Police Stops Child Wedding

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Yemen: Police Stops Child Wedding
Wed 20-11-2013

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.

An official told the BBC it was the first such intervention to stop a child marriage in Yemen.

The child, Hiba, was due to have been married on 8 November in the southern city of Taiz.

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.

Hiba's story is not unusual in Yemen. She is looked after by her father, who married again after Hiba's mother died.

An official from the local office of the human rights ministry heard about the planned wedding. The ministry has put the issue of child marriage at the very top of its agenda.

The official contacted the police station near where Hiba lives, and the police decided to intervene.

They spoke to Hiba's father and persuaded him not to marry his daughter off.

Fuad al-Ghaffari, a senior official in the office of the Human Rights Minister, Hooria Mashhour, said he was proud of the action taken by his colleague, as well as the police.

He told the BBC that it was the first time such an intervention had taken place.

Yemeni child brides,8 year old Nojud Ali and 9 year old Arwa, celebrated their divorces, granted them by a Yemeni court, with a party in the capital Sanaa (30 July 2008).

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 8 year old girl said to have died of internal injuries after her wedding night, prompted renewed calls for action.

As for Hiba, her fate still remains in the balance. Without any legal sanction, human rights officials say there is nothing to stop her still being married off at a later date.

Source: BBC NEWS