Sana’a: Yemen activists have managed to foil the wedding of a 12-year-old girl in the western province of Hudieda. This case comes nearly three weeks after the halt of a similar wedding of a 12-year-old girl in the province of Taiz.
Ahmad Al Gurishi, the head of Seyaj Organisation For Childhood Protection, a Yemeni child advocacy organisation, told Gulf News that the girl, Aisha Ebrahim, initially eloped with a young man from her village in the district of Luhia and asked for protection from a tribal leader. According to the traditional tribal norms, if two lovers fled their homes and took a refuge in the house of a tribal leader, he should protect them and give a shelter for their marriage regardless to their age.
“A week ago, two local dignitaries called the organisation and urged us to intervene and stop the marriage,” After verifying the girl’s age, Al Gurishi said that his organisation contacted the tribal leader who would sponsor the marriage, chief judge of the district and the media. “We intended to put this case under spotlight to mount pressure on the judge to call off the marriage. The judge was not helpful at the beginning.”
Al Gurishi said that without pressure from the media, the girl would have been married to the young man. The judge was in favour of the immediate wedding of the two youngsters. “When we put more pressure on him, he suggested that marriage contract be drawn up but that the girl returns to her family — postponing the official wedding to take place after three years.” Under long-rooted tribal traditions, Aisha was at risk of being beaten, tortured or killed as she tarnished the tribe’s dignity. Since the girl’s father was dead, her brother and uncle signed a pledge not to harm the girl when she returns home.
Yemen’s ministry of human rights has recently pledged to take more draconian measures to control proliferation of child marriage in the country. Officials at the ministry said that they would immediately stop any child marriage whenever it takes place. Early this month, local representatives of the ministry successfully thwarted the wedding of a 12-year girl in the southern province of Taiz.
Distressing stories about child brides as young as nine and ten years getting married to middle-aged men has created lots of attention from the international community about child marriages in Yemen.