Target: President Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi
Goal: Ban marriage of children
Recently, news outlets reported the shocking death of an eight year girl in Yemen. The child, named Raman, was married to a 40-year old man. After sexual intercourse on their wedding night, the girl died from internal bleeding.
This horrifying story, reported by activist Arwa Othman, is that of many other girls in the Middle Eastern country. Human Rights Watch in 2011 noted “nearly 14 percent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52 percent before the age of 18. The group said many Yemeni child brides-to-be are kept from school when they reach puberty. In some rural areas, girls as young as 8 are married.”
Along with denying young girls a childhood, early marriage and subsequent intercourse and pregnancy can lead to an early death. IRIN News reported in 2011 that “According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Yemeni women face a lifetime risk of maternal death which is nearly four times higher than the average for the region…among the highest worldwide.”
This ongoing tragedy represents a triumph of religious fundamentalism over human rights. In the past, the marriage age in the country was 15. However, in 1999 the Yemeni government abolished a legal age requirement. Ten years later, after public outcry, the Yemeni parliament drafted a new bill to institute a new marriage are of 17 years old. However, this was blocked by conservative lawmakers who stated it was contrary to Islamic law.
Children have the right to a good childhood and all the benefits it brings. They have the right to innocence, play and an education at school. The Yemeni government, as a signatory of international treaties including the Convention of the Rights of the Child, has a responsibility to protect these rights. By signing this petition, you will demand Yemen live up to its obligations and ban child marriage.
Dear President Hadi,
The shocking death of Raman, an eight year old girl who died from internal bleeding after intercourse with a 40-year old man on their wedding night, brought the issue of child marriage in Yemen to international attention. Despite Yemen’s international and own human rights obligations to protect the rights of children, this appalling practice is still widespread in the country.
The prospect of a forced marriage can destroy a girl’s life, literally, through the health risks of childhood intercourse and pregnancy. In a December 22, 2011 article IRIN News noted “According to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Yemeni women face a lifetime risk of maternal death which is nearly four times higher than the average for the region…among the highest worldwide.”
Yemen is a signatory of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, both of which call for a marriage age of 18, but no minimum currently exists in your country. A 2009 attempt to introduce a minimum age of 17 was thwarted by conservative parliament members who cited Islamic law in their opposition.
Children have the right to a good childhood and all the benefits it brings. They have the right to innocence, play and an education at school. I urge your government to stand up to fundamentalists and ensure these rights are protected through banning child marriage.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Martin Sojka via Flickr