In Yemen, a child bride was forced to marry a man five times her age. Because the Yemeni girl was only eight-years-old, she was extremely small and still very much a child. However, that did not stop her 40-year-old groom from having sexual intercourse with her on their wedding night. However, things only got worse from there because the bride eventually died from internal bleeding following her newlywed husband’s forceful penetration.
Because the little girl was only a child, her death has sparked outrage among the people of Yemen and the world community at large. However, child brides are still a common practice, as they are in seventeen states in America, including South Carolina, where young women are sometimes “forced” to “marry their rapists” as a way of helping their attacker get out of statutory rape charges.
In Yemen, this girl’s recent death has become a rallying call to change the status quo on marriage.
The head of Yemen’s House of Folklore, Arwa Othman, has used her power as a leading campaigner to fight for the little girl, who was identified only as Rawan, and others like her. Although Rawan died on her wedding night after being given to a 40-year-old man who killed her during sex, Arwa Othman hopes that her work as an activist can help other people see the dangers of child brides. The marriage occurred in the small town of Meedi, which is located in Yemen’s Hajjah province, not far from the border of Saudi Arabia.
“On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death,” Othman stated bluntly. “They took her to a clinic, but the medics couldn’t save her life.”
Although the man killed the child bride, Yemeni authorities have taken no action against the man responsible. They have also not taken any action against the girl’s family who allowed the 40-year-old man to marry the girl, five times his junior.
However, Meedi residents told Reuters that tribal chiefs covered up the tragedy after the news got out of town. They even tried to censor local journalists by urging them not to write about the story.
Yemeni families sometimes marry their young daughters off as a way to save money. They no longer have to pay for the child’s food or childcare. They even earn cash money from the girl’s dowry.
During a January report from the UN, the extent of poverty in Yemen was made clear. Things are very bad there, and people are barely scraping by with enough to live on. Of the country’s 24 million people, more than 10.5 million or 44 percent of the country’s population are with insufficient food supplies. 13 million people do not even have access to clean drinking water. Can you imagine that? Imagine if we didn’t have water to drink? Imagine if you didn’t have water to take a shower or use the toilet? That is truly difficult.
Because of this clean water crisis and other elements of poverty, Yemeni parents are sometimes forced to trade their underage, child daughters to eager men looking to marry. Although they can be as young as eight, in this case, the parents feel that the daughter will be better off with a husband rather than suffering through an impoverished life where the next meal is not guaranteed.