Forced child marriages

According to figures published by Unicef, in Yemen one of every three girls is married before the age of 18, and one of every seven before reaching 15. In the majority of cases these are forced marriages, agreed to by the families, without the minors' consent. This practice not only violates the most basic human rights and the international conventions signed by Yemen, but it also has serious consequences on the girls' lives and development.

It is usual for a girl to be married to a man much older than her, for her to be obliged to leave school and for her to be forced to move in with her husband's family, where she will act as their servant. The minor becomes her husband's property and it is he who decides when to have sexual relations and children. Sexual abuse and complications during pregnancy and childbirth are continuous in this kind of relationships.

In 2009 the Yemeni Parliament debated a law to prevent and sanction marriages with under-17s, but in 2010 the Sharia (Islamic Law) Committee blocked the initiative. In 2015 a constitutional draft was drawn up, establishing 18 years as the minimum age for contracting marriage. However, the political instability affecting the country makes its approval hugely complicated.

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