Sana’a: Local security officials and journalists in Yemen’s northern province of Hajja have strongly denied media reports about the death of an eight-year-old girl shortly after her wedding. But the journalist who wrote the controversial story insisted that his story was correct and based on the accounts of the girl’s neighbours.
Local media recently ran a story about an eight-year old girl who died after suffering heavy bleeding and a tear in her genitals after sleeping with her middle-aged husband. The story went viral on the internet, causing outrage in the region, with people taking to blogs and social networks to condemn the alleged incident.
The journalist who wrote the story that sparked the outrage however stood by his account and insisted that his story is true.
Mohammad Radman, a freelance journalist from the province, commented on the officials’ denial by saying that the girl’s neighbours told him the girl was dead and buried.
“They are willing to give their testimony on this issue. I think the officials are trying to bury the story.” he said.
Mosleh Al Azzani, the director of Criminal Investigation in Harradh district where the marriage was thought to have taken place, told Gulf News via telephone that he personally sent for the girl and her father to question them about the incident. The girl’s name is Rawan.
“When I heard the rumours, I called the girl’s father. He came with his daughter and denied the marriage and death of his daughter. I have the photos of the girl and will show it to anyone.”
The official said that the girl was eight years old and her father was in his late 40s.
“The man moved to Haradh 20 days ago. He is a father of Rawan, another married daughter and a son. I am ready to call them again if any journalist wants to investigate this issue.” he said, adding that he did not receive any information from the local hospital about the death of the girl.
Also in Hajja, Aziz Saleh, a journalist who runs a local website, said that he contacted the local authority’s office who denied the news.
“All of them maintained that neither the marriage nor death had taken place,” he said
In the capital, Ahmad Al Qurishi, the head of SEYAJ Organisation for Childhood Protection, an independent NGO that advocates children’s rights, told Gulf News that government and judicial officials in the province of Hajja denied the information about the marriage and death.
“I got in touch with the director of Criminal Investigation, Hajja’s prosecutor and the province’s security chief who all flatly denied the story,” he said.
Al Qurishi said that his organisation conducted its own investigation into the issue by sending some activists to the area.” The preliminary results show that the story was untrue.”
Al Qurishi accused some people of using the controversial issue of underage marriage in Yemen “for their own interests”.
“Some people create these stories to get publicity and attention and aid from international organisations,” he said.