An eight-year-old child bride, Rawan, has died in Yemen of internal bleeding sustained during her wedding night after being forced to marry a man five times her age. She died in the tribal area of Hardh in northwestern Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia.
Activists are now demanding that the groom, who is believed to be around 40 years old, and her family to be arrested. They say arrests would help put a stop to the practice of marrying very young girls to older men in the impoverished region.
The practice of marrying young girls is widespread and common in Yemen and has attracted the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages. Yemen’s gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice of child marriage, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to “bride-prices” that can be hundreds of dollars for their daughters. More than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before the age of 15, according to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry.
Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation. In September 2010, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor.
At one time, Yemen set the age of 15 as the minimum age for marriage, but parliament annulled that law in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.
What are your general thoughts on arranged marriage? Would it be alright for certain age girls? Do you think most of the uproar comes from the fact that Yemen families are essentially “selling” their daughters to get out of poverty? Do you believe that the groom and Rawan’s family should face criminal charges? If so, to what degree?