Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Child Bride and Divorce In Yemen

Child marriage and divorce in Yemen story on the BBC news show two additional girls that were forced into sexual abuse before the law states is allowed. I have to wonder if Yemen could introduce a law about pedophilia. I suppose within that culture that may not be possible.

Arwa Abdu Muhammad Ali

BBC News reports Arwa was sold off:

Coming in from the street where he's been digging drains, Abdul Mohammed Ali takes up the story. He describes how a stranger, a man in his mid forties, approached him in the market asking if he knew of any marriageable girls.
Jibla village has been in the news since Arwa's request

After visiting their home and seeing Arwa and her 15-year-old sister, he opted for the younger child. Abdul Ali says the man promised he would wait for the girl to reach puberty before calling her to his house but then changed his mind and came to live with them.

So why did he sell his daughter to a stranger?

"He gave me 30,000 rial ($150, £90) and promised another 400,000 ($2,000). I was really in need of money and thought it was a solution for the family," he explains.

For seven months, Arwa's husband shared the small room where the family eat, play and sleep.

When Arwa fought off his advances, she was beaten. The torment only came to an end when her husband and father quarrelled and Abdul Ali gave her permission to seek outside help.

At this point in the narrative, she finds her voice again, describing how she went looking for a neighbour who could lend her money for the journey to court where the judge took pity on her and granted her freedom.

A medical examination showed that she had been sexually molested but was still technically a virgin

Arwa's audacity in seeking a divorce was inspired by the example of Nujood, another young girl from the capital, Sanaa, who has become a national celebrity.

Reem was married at 12, and again you are to wait until your bride is mature enough to become sexually active. Her husband also refused to wait.

she describes the moment when her 30-year-old husband insisted on sex. When she resisted, he choked and bit her and dragged her by the hair, overwhelming her with force.
Reem wants a divorce and then a college education

She was imprisoned for 11 days in his house and tried to kill herself with a kitchen knife before being rescued by her mother.

Although Yemen has a law stating that 15 is the marriageable age, it is frequently flouted, particularly in poor rural areas where society is run along tribal lines.

It seems to me that the government is making excuses about such marriages when they release a comment like:

Sheikh Hamoud Hashim al-Tharihi is general secretary of the increasingly influential Vice and Virtue Committee and a member of the Islah Party. He cites the example of the Prophet Muhammad who married six-year-old Aisha but waited for consummation till she was a little older.

"Because this happened to the Prophet, we cannot tell people that it is prohibited to marry at an early age," he argues. Moreover, he claims it would harm society by spreading vice.

You would hope this would be the end of the miserable existance for this girls, but as the article ends:

At her home in Jibla, Arwa is putting the past behind her and returning to childish games of hide and seek in the narrow passageways near her home.

But, without a firm lead from government, her father Abdul Ali may be tempted a second time to take money for his daughter's hand in marriage, curtailing her childhood once and for all.

It seems she will be yet again a Child Bride in Yemen, and who knows if a divorce would happen again.

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