SANAA // Yemen’s human-rights minister said today she would work to relaunch a bill fixing the minimum marriage age at 17, after the reported death of an 8-year-old girl on her wedding night.
Rawan was said to have died last week from internal haemorrhaging after sexual intercourse on her wedding night. She married a man in his 40s in the northeastern province of Hajja.
“I wrote to the president of the chamber of deputies to refile on the parliamentary agenda the bill limiting the age of marriage to 17 years, which has been suspended since 2009,” Huriya Mashhoor said.
Ms Mashhoor spoke a day after the government formed a committee to investigate the reports of the girl’s death.
“We do not have enough evidence at the moment” about the incident, Ms Mashhoor said.
“But I am worried that there could be an attempt to silence the matter, especially as it took place in an isolated rural area in Hajja province where there have been similar cases before.
“If the case was confirmed and covered up, then the crime would be more serious,” Ms Mashhoor said.
Ms Mashhoor has been involved in a campaign against the marriage of child brides in Yemen, ravaged by years of strife and widespread poverty. There is no clear definition in the country of what constitutes a child, making it difficult to battle the practice.
Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday that 14 per cent of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 15, and 52 per cent before 18, citing Yemeni and 2006 data from the United Nations.
* Agence France-Presse