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Child bride's death on wedding night stirs outrage in Yemen, probe beginsSat, 14 Sep, 2013 | Posted By: The Times Of Earth (TOE)

Child bride's death on wedding night stirs outrage in Yemen, probe begins The girl, identified only as Rawan, was married to a 40-year-old man late last week in northwestern Yemen. (Photo courtesy of Sabq.org)
Yemeni authorities say they are investigating the reported death of an eight-year-old girl from internal bleeding on the first night of her marriage, in a case that has rekindled international outrage over child brides.

An eight-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age, a social activist and two local residents said, in a case that has caused an outcry in the media and revived debate about child brides.
Arwa Othman, head of Yemen House of Folklore and a leading rights campaigner, said the girl, identified only as Rawan, was married to a 40-year-old man late last week in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province in northwestern Yemen.

“On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death,” Othman told Reuters. “They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn’t save her life.”

Othman said no action had been taken against the man.

A local security official in the provincial town of Haradh denied any such incident had taken place. He did not want to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Yemen's human rights minister has asked parliament to pass a law setting a minimum age for marriage.

Hooria Mashhour told the BBC she believed there was more chance of making progress on the issue of child marriage in Yemen than ever before.

Mashhour meanwhile said that she had asked parliament to set a minimum age for marriage.

On Friday, the European Union's foreign policy chief, Baroness Catherine Ashton, said in a statement that she had been "appalled" by reports of the girl's death.

"I urge the Yemeni authorities to investigate this case without delay and to prosecute all those responsible for this crime," she added.

"I call on the Yemeni government to abide by its obligations under international law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, of which Yemen is a member, and to immediately reinstate legislation setting a minimum age for marriage, in line with international norms, to prohibit such abuse of children."

An aide to Yemeni Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa said the government was "dealing seriously" with Othman's allegation.

"It will investigate it and those responsible will be brought to justice," Rajeh Badi told Reuters.

Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of child rights' organisation Siyaj told the AFP news agency that residents from the girl's home province of Hajjah said she and her family disappeared shortly after the incident.

Some people in the area said the girl was married to the man who took her to a hotel, and that she died on the wedding night from bleeding caused by sexual intercourse.

However, a security official in the area told activists investigating the case that the girl and her father were being held by police, without giving any details, Quraishi said.

Activists also discovered that Rawan's father had another daughter aged 10, who is also married.

Many poor families in Yemen marry off young daughters to save on the costs of bringing up a child and earn extra money from the dowry given to a girl.

According to the United Nations around half of Yemen's 24 million people lack sufficient food and access to safe water.

Under international norms such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person regardless of their age must give their consent before they can be married.

Human Rights Watch previously urged Yemen's government to ban marriages of girls under the age of 18.

It said nearly 14 percent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52 percent before the age of 18. HRW said many Yemeni child brides-to-be are kept from school when they reach puberty.

Source: Agencies
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