A 12-year-old Yemeni bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after she was married off to an older man, the United Nations Children's Fund said.
The girl was married to a man at least twice her age, said Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa.
Her death is "a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon," Kaag said Thursday.
Amal Basha, chairwoman of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, a Yemeni human rights group, identified the girl Friday as Elham Mahdi.
"Elham was married on March 29th and died three days later" and lived in Yemen's Hajjah province, Basha said.
The girl's death is the latest in a series of child marriage cases in Yemen, where the minimum age to tie the knot is still under debate.
Frustrated by the recent revelation, a Yemeni government official called the case "a stark reminder that the practice of underage marriage must come to an end."
"The government has been working tirelessly to cement the minimum marriage age but conservative parliamentarians have stood against it," said the official, who is not authorized to speak to the media. "Members of the conservative block need to step up to the responsibility of protecting the rights and freedoms of the young. NGOs must continue campaigning to shed the light on this unfortunate practice."
In September, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl forced into marriage died during childbirth. Her baby also died, according to the Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children.
Fawziya Ammodi was in labor for three days before she died of severe bleeding, said Ahmed al-Qureshi, president of the organization.
"Although the cause of her death was lack of medical care, the real case was the lack of education in Yemen and the fact that child marriages keep happening," al-Qureshi said.
Child brides are common in Yemen, where the United Nations estimates that one in three girls are married before age 18. Most are married off to older men with more than one wife, according to a study by Sanaa University.
For the girl's parents, marriage means the daughters are no longer a financial or moral burden. Most times, parents get a promise from the husband to wait until the girl is older to consummate the marriage.
"Early marriage places girls at increased risk of dropping out of school, being exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, and even losing their lives from pregnancy, childbirth and other complications," UNICEF said.
The issue of Yemeni child brides made headlines in 2008 when 10-year-old Nujood Ali was pulled out of school and married. Her husband beat and raped her within weeks of the ceremony.
To escape, Nujood hailed a taxi -- the first time in her life -- to get to the central courthouse where she sat on a bench and demanded to see a judge.
After a well-publicized trial, she was granted a divorce.
As for force child marriage, it's disgusting. The people that do it need to be eradicated. Crimes against children are the worst things a person can do, people who commit them deserve to suffer horribly.
Your first statement is half-correct. Child marriages don't occur because of love, its because the children's families force them to marry.
So you can say it is a sub-part of arranged marriage. But it equals forced marriage.
[Edited by Vonfuzzball, 4/10/2010 3:40:34 PM]
There are tribal traditions that if you have sex with a virgin, you can be cured of disease. They exist in Africa, used to exist in Europe and North America and I wouldn't doubt if they exist in the Middle East.
But what's hidden and glows for me is the resistance of Conservatives in parliament to change the bottom age.
even this incident happens time to time, NGOs work all the time, but still there are insistence over not touching the LAW since it's interpreted from the holly books or whatnot.
Not just i Yemen but few more countries bear such cultural error, that's what i call it, in region.
Even in few of them Law totally forbids it but ceremonies take place in discreet.
It's Cultural, and should be face cultural. Simply pushing off few parliamentarians off the edge or passing a LAW to forbids this won't work until the society denies this act and dis-values it. When families don't think about letting their daughter to be a sex machine, then even those who ask for won't get any!
When they see a girl as a "BURDEN" and doesn't matter of what "KIND" then she will be nothing but an Sexual Organ that the more unripe "it" is the more pleasureful "it" is.
What good LAW could do about it?!