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Yemen: Eight Year-Old Girl Dies on her Wedding Night

Outrage as child bride dies from internal injuries after being married off to a man more than five times her age.
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 9/9/2013, 9:04 PM

(Illustration) Yemeni girls in a refugee camp
(Illustration) Yemeni girls in a refugee camp
Reuters

A girl of eight years old has died after suffering internal injuries on the night of her arranged marriage - to a man more than five times her age.

The young girl, named only as Rawan, died in the tribal region of Hardh in northwestern Yemen, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper Al Watan.

According to Gulf News, she died after suffering a tear to her genitals and due to severe bleeding.

There have been calls to arrest her family and husband, who was reportedly 40 years old, as activists demand an end to the practice of child marriages in the Middle East's poorest country.

Even some of those more sympathetic to prevailing cultural norms in the region voiced their disgust, with one blogger lamenting: 

"Her family and her groom could have waited for some time before having this marriage. It was not fair at all and the marriage should not have happened even if some tribes believe that it is a good custom."

The issue of Yemeni child brides has gained growing prominence in recent years, amid international calls to end the practice. In July, the plight of one child bride-to-be made headlines after she recorded her dramatic escape from her family, along with a heartbreaking account of the struggle she and many girls like her regularly face. 

According to the United Nations, one in nine girls in developing countries is married, often forcibly, by the age of 15. UN estimates state that if current trends continue, there will be approximately 14.2 million child brides by 2020.

Yemen is one of the worst offenders, where child marriages are seen as completely normal, the result of a combination of poverty, Islamic conservatism and a highly patriarchal society.

Tragically, though perhaps unsurprisingly, Yemen also has one of the highest rates of death at childbirth in the world.