Saturday, 10 April 2010

Dead Yemeni child bride tied up, raped, says mother

ٍٍSource : AP 10/04/2010

SHUEBA, Yemen (AP) — A 13-year-old Yemeni child bride who died shortly after marriage was tied down and raped by her husband, her mother said.

Nijma Ahmed, 50, told the Associated Press late Friday that just before her daughter lost consciousness she described how her 23-year-old husband had tied her up and forced himself on her. She bled to death hours later.

Elham Assi died April 2, four days after she was married. A forensic report said her vagina and rectum were deeply ripped, causing her to hemorrhage.

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in impoverished Yemen. Traditional families prefer young brides and poor families can be lured with hundreds of dollars in gifts.

The UN child agency, UNICEF, says one of three girls in Yemen is married before the age of 18.

"Early marriage places girls at increased risk of dropping out of school, being exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, and even losing their lives from pregnancy, childbirth and other complications," said regional director Sigrid Kaag, in a statement Wednesday condemning the death.

Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

Last month, a group of the country's highest Islamic authorities declared those supporting a ban on child marriages to be apostates.

A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament's constitutional committee for review after some lawmakers called it un-Islamic. The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation this month.

The issue of Yemen's child brides got widespread attention three years ago when an 8-year-old girl boldly 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 September, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor to give birth, a local human rights organization said

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