Sana'a: A 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labour to give birth, a local human rights organisation said.

Fawziya Abdullah Yousuf died of severe bleeding on Friday while giving birth to a stillborn in the Al Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province, 223 kilometers west of the capital Sana'a.

Child marriages are widespread in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, where tribal customs dominate society. More than a quarter of the country's females marry before age 15, according to a recent report by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Yousuf was only 11 when her father married her to a 24-year-old man who works as a farmer in Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Al Quraishi, chairman of Siyaj human rights organization, said on Saturday.

Al Quraishi, whose group promotes child rights in Yemen, said he stumbled upon Yousuf in the hospital while investigating cases of children who had fled from the fighting in the north.

"This is one of many cases that exist in Yemen," said Al Quraishi. "The reason behind it is the lack of education and awareness, forcing many girls into marriage in this very early age."

Impoverished parents in Yemen sometimes give away their young daughters in return for hefty dowries. There is also a long-standing tribal custom in which infant daughters and sons are promised to cousins in hopes it will protect them from illicit relationships, he said.

Al Quraishi said there are no statistics to show how many marriages involving children are performed every year.

The issue of child brides vaulted into the headlines here two years ago when an 8-year-old Yemeni girl went by herself to a courtroom and demanded a judge dissolve her marriage to a man in his 30s. She eventually won a divorce, and legislators began looking at ways to curb the practice.

In February, parliament passed a law setting the minimum marriage age at 17. But some lawmakers are trying to kill the measure, calling it un-Islamic. Before it could be ratified by Yemen's president, they forced it to be sent back to parliament's constitutional committee for review.

Your comments

Children should be playing at this age and not getting married. How can you expect a child to be a wife and a mother on her very young age? May these people have the courage to fight for their own lives and be awaken soon. May God bless them.
Posted: September 14, 2009, 16:08

This is so wrong
Posted: September 14, 2009, 16:01

I think this is the most inhuman thing. Child marriages should be banned. Its wrong.
Posted: September 14, 2009, 15:52

I think all parents to be decided by themselves before 18 years they should not agree to give marriage his/her daughters.
Kazi Abu Saeed
Abu Dhabi,UAE
Posted: September 14, 2009, 14:34

I think this is inhuman, cruel, and what else. They should stop it. Child marriages are not justifyable. They should be given education for this.
Tessy Alex
Posted: September 14, 2009, 14:10