Sunday, June 22, 2008

Already Married and Divorced … At 10 Years Old

Posted by Janet Langjahr.

In Yemen, the minimum lawful age to marry at is 15 years old - and more than half of all girls are married before they turn 18 years old. Tribal customs often permit marriage earlier than the minimum legal age.

A Yemeni couple with sixteen children opted to marry their daughter off at just 10 years old. To a thirty-something year old man.

They stated that they thought it was best for her to allow her husband to raise her.

The man allegedly beat her and forced himself on her. When her parents would do nothing for her, her aunt reportedly sent her bus money so she could travel to court to pursue a divorce.

Although a judge arranged for the little girl’s father and husband to be arrested, both ultimately were set free. Yemeni law has no concept of sexual abuse in the context of a marriage.

The little girl’s husband demanded payment to agree to the divorce. An attorney at the courthouse donated the money.

The little girl was granted her divorce - and the judge placed the child in the care of her uncle.

A human rights lawyer at the courthouse championed the girl’s cause, and the little girl now aspires to pursue her education and eventually become a lawyer.

The case has sparked debate in Yemen but, as of yet, no change in the laws or customs.

It is unknown whether Yemen has a child welfare agency or child welfare laws.

Read more in this Sydney Morning Herald article: Ten-year-old granted divorce from abusive marriage.

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