Yemen: End child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law

10 DECEMBER 2013 UPDATE: Two weeks ago, a young man reached out to the Yemeni Ministry of Human Rights to stop the marriage of his 11-year-old sister, Nada (not her real name) to her 23-year-old cousin. While the Ministry has intervened in cases like this before and stopped parents from marrying off young girls, they were unable to stop Nada’s marriage as her father refused to relent and there is no law against child marriage. Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour, who has been consistently raising awareness of this issue in the media, stated that as long as there is no minimum age of marriage in Yemen, her power to stop these marriages is severely limited.

Minister Mashhour continues to call for the reintroduction of the 2009 parliamentary bill that would effectively ban child marriages in the country. Equality Now and our partners, Yemeni Women Union (YWU) and Arab Human Rights Foundation (AHRF), support the Minister in her efforts to ensure that the government of Yemen lives up to its obligations under international law by passing a law prohibiting child marriage so that girls are no longer forced to undergo its harmful physical and psychological effects. Please help us renew the call upon the government of Yemen to make the rights of women and girls a priority, to pass and enforce a law prohibiting child marriage, and to ensure the safety and human rights of child brides who have ended their marriages.


Wafa, child bride
"My message to other parents is that they should not think of marrying their daughters at a young age, girls should go to school. I don’t want any girl to suffer as I did. Girls should be educated in order to be able to live happily and in dignity." - Wafa, 11-year-old child bride, Yemen

Equality Now continues to call on Yemen to end child marriages by enacting and enforcing a minimum age of marriage law. Recent coverage in the press has highlighted the issue of child marriage in Yemen and underscored the devastating impact the practice can have on girls. Equality Now has been informed of a number of cases of young Yemeni girls who have undergone or been at risk of child marriage which has left them subject to many harmful consequences. Despite the media attention received by some of the cases the government has not passed a law setting a minimum age of marriage.

In a promising new development Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour has requested the reintroduction of the 2009 parliamentary bill that would effectively ban child marriages in the country. Equality Now and Yemen Women’s Union (YWU) support the Minister in her efforts to ensure that the government of Yemen lives up to its obligations under international law by passing a law prohibiting child marriage so that girls are no longer forced to undergo the harmful physical and psychological effects of child marriage.

Please join us in calling on the government of Yemen to make the rights of women and girls a priority, to pass and enforce a law prohibiting child marriage, and to ensure the safety and human rights of child brides who have ended their marriages.

PETITION TEXT:

I am deeply concerned about the prevalence of child marriage in Yemen. Reports from both Yemeni human rights groups and the press have highlighted a number of cases of young Yemeni girls who have undergone or been at risk of child marriage which has left them subject to many harmful and sometimes fatal, consequences. Yet, to date, the government has not passed a law setting a minimum age of marriage. While government officers have been intervening in individual cases of child marriage, their power to stop these marriages is severely limited without a law banning child marriages.

International organizations such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF and UNFPA have underscored the negative physical, emotional, psychological, intellectual and sexual implications of child marriage on girls, including septic abortion, still births, death due to early pregnancy, deprivation of education, few social connections, restricted mobility, limited control over resources, little or no power in their new households and increased risk of domestic violence.

I am aware that draft legislation fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17 with penalties and punishment for violators has been pending in parliament since 2009. Passing it without delay would be a first step to helping girls escape abuse and allowing them to fulfill their potential. Banning child marriage is an international obligation of the Yemeni government under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) both of which contain provisions against the practice. In 2012, the UN Human Rights Committee in its examination of Yemen’s compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) expressed its concern that “a minimum age for marriage has still not been set and encounters great resistance in the Parliament” and called on Yemen to “set a minimum age for marriage that complies with international standards.”

In a promising new development Yemeni Human Rights Minister Hooria Mashhour has requested the reintroduction of the 2009 parliamentary bill that would effectively ban child marriages in the country. I support the Minister in her efforts to ensure that the government of Yemen lives up to its obligations under international law by passing a law prohibiting child marriage so that girls are no longer forced to undergo the harmful physical and psychological effects of child marriage.

I urge you to ensure that the draft child marriage bill is passed by parliament as soon as possible. Once passed, please ensure the law’s effective enforcement and punishment for those in violation. In addition, take measures to protect and promote the rights of girls who have ended or escaped child marriages, including by providing access to security, education and counseling.
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    2344 Tue Sep 02 04:31:47 EDT 2014 Amie Juhn Rosemead, CA , US
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    2334 Tue Aug 05 07:53:55 EDT 2014 Julia Ridemark London, GB
    2333 Thu Jul 31 19:07:20 EDT 2014 Lynn Russell Blanco, US Educating young women could help improve economic conditions, and they could help provide a better life for their families and themselves. Marrying them off simply serves the purpose of one or two men, More....
    2332 Wed Jul 30 14:05:02 EDT 2014 Vincenza Grassi Naples, IT
    2331 Wed Jul 30 09:02:46 EDT 2014 Amanda Luthra Toronto, CA
    2330 Sun Jul 27 22:08:15 EDT 2014 Amanda Smith West Monroe, US
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    2321 Sat Jul 19 08:21:29 EDT 2014 Celine See Perth, WA , AU
    2320 Tue Jul 15 06:37:55 EDT 2014 Judith Lewis Swansea, GB+Z1 , GB
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    This petition will be delivered to the government of Yemen.

    For more information:
    http://www.equalitynow.org/take_action/adolescent_girls_action344