Thursday, October 10, 2013

Yemen: Child Marriages

I had no idea that the underage marriage of young woman was a serious problem until after reading this article by Rothna Begum. In Yemen, a country with no minimum marriage age, young girls are often married off by their fathers to men over twice their age. In fact “14 percent of girls in Yemen were married before age 15 … and 52 percent were married before age 18.” This results in all kinds of terrible consequences. Often these girls are raped by their husbands and can do nothing about it because marital rape is not illegal in Yemen.

If you're like me you must be thinking, what kind of father would sell his daughter to a stranger. I guess you must have forgotten, like me, that this is how desperate they are to feed the rest of their family. These young women must also face the problems that are associated with giving birth before their bodies have fully developed, resulting in five times as many deaths as women 20-24. Women that marry at this young age will also not receive an education, meaning they would not be able to work and therefore this situation could easily be repeated in the next generation. There is some hope that the laws will change in Yemen. This month there was a proposal that the minimum marriage age be set to 18 years old, but this is no guarantee. The true root of this problem is not caused by the laws in Yemen, but the extreme poverty that the people in this country face. Without the necessary aid this problem will likely continue whether or not a law does make underage marriage illegal.

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