The Story Behind the Story – 8 Year Old Yemeni Child Dies at Hands of 40 Year Old Husband on Wedding Night

The Story Behind the Story – 8 Year Old Yemeni Child Dies at Hands of 40 Year Old Husband on Wedding Night

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Is it true? Did the 8 year old Yemeni child die at the hands of a 40 year old husband on their wedding night?

Origins:   In September 2013, the Kuwaiti daily Al Watan (citing a local Yemeni newspaper called Al Mashhad) reported that an 8-year-old girl named Rawan had died of internal hemorrhaging related to vaginal tearing the night after she was married to a 40-year-old man in northwestern Yemen. That story was then picked up and spread internationally by English-language news media:

An eight-year-old Yemeni girl has died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age, a social activist and two local residents said, in a case that has caused an outcry in the media and revived debate about child brides.

Arwa Othman, head of Yemen’s House of Folklore and a leading rights campaigner, said the girl, identified only as Rawan, was married to a 40-year-old in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province, north-western Yemen.

“On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death,” Othman said. “They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn’t save her life.”

Othman said authorities had not taken any action against the girl’s family or her husband.

Shortly afterwards, the Dubai-based Gulf News ran a story stating that Yemeni law enforcement officials had investigated the report and denied there was truth to it:
Mosleh Al Azzani, the director of Criminal Investigation in Harradh district where the marriage was thought to have taken place, said that he personally sent for the girl and her father to question them about the incident.

The girl’s father in his 40s was called, he came with his daughter and denied the marriage and death of his daughter. “I have the photos of the girl and will show it to anyone.”

A journalist Aziz Saleh who runs a local website, said that he contacted the local authority’s office who denied the news.

“All of them maintained that neither the marriage nor death had taken place,” he said

In the capital, Ahmad Al Qurishi, the head of SEYAJ Organisation for Childhood Protection, an independent NGO that advocates children’s rights, said that government and judicial officials in the province of Hajja denied the information about the marriage and death.

“I got in touch with the director of Criminal Investigation, Hajja’s prosecutor and the province’s security chief who all flatly denied the story,” he said.

Al Qurishi said that his organisation conducted its own investigation into the issue by sending some activists to the area. “The preliminary results show that the story was untrue.”

The journalist who initially reported the story maintains it is true and is being covered up by officials, however:

The journalist who wrote the controversial story insisted that his story was correct and based on the accounts of the girl’s neighbours.

Mohammad Radman, a freelance journalist from the province, commented on the officials’ denial by saying that the girl’s neighbours told him the girl was dead and buried, and were willing to give their testimony on

He felt that the officials were trying to bury the story.

“They are willing to give their testimony on this issue. I think the officials are trying to bury the story.” he said.

Two Meedi residents contacted by Reuters confirmed the incident and said tribal chiefs had tried to cover up the incident when the news broke, warning a local journalist against covering the story.

Claim:  An eight year-old child bride died in Yemen on her wedding night after suffering internal injuries due to sexual trauma. Human rights organizations are calling for the arrest of her husband, who was five times her age.

Al Nahar, Lebanon, reported that the death occurred in the tribal area of Hardh in northwestern Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia. This brings even more attention to the already existing issue of forced child marriages in the Middle East.

“According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.”

It is reported that over a quarter of Yemen’s young girls are married before the age of 15Not only do they lose access to health and education, these child brides are commonly subjected to physical, emotional and sexual violence in their forced marriages.

One of the main issues is that there is currently no consistent established definition of a “child” that has been agreed upon worldwide.  This leaves various interpretations within countries and little protection for those who are affected.

Establishing this age limit is among the top priorities of groups like HRC which was responsible for publishing the 54-page report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”, documenting the lifelong damage to girls who are forced to marry at young ages.  Most pro age-limit organizations agree that 18 should be the legal age for marriage.

In February 2009, a law was created in Yemen that set the minimum age for marriage at 17. Unfortunately, it was repealed after more conservative lawmakers called it un-Islamic.

Al Batati, Saeed.   “Wedding Night Death of Girl, 8, Denied in Yemen.”
    Gulf News.   9 September 2013.
    Blake, Matt.   “Yemeni Child Bride, 8, Dies of Internal Injuries on First Night of Forced Marriage.”
    Daily Mail.   9 September 2013.
    Toumi, Habib.   “Bride, 8, Dies of Injuries on Wedding Night in Yemen.”
    Gulf News.   8 September 2013.
    The Guardian.   “Yemeni Child Bride, Eight, ‘Dies on Wedding Night.'”
    11 September 2013.
    Reuters.   “Child Bride in Yemen Dies of Internal Bleeding on Wedding Night.”
    10 September 2013.

To read more click here snopes.

Featured image source   (Photo of the girl is apparently for illustrative purposes only courtesy of delhi4cats)

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