Child Marriage in Yemen: A Deep-Rooted Tradition

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Child Marriage in Yemen: A Deep-Rooted Tradition


Child marriage is a major issue around the world, with many countries struggling to address and eradicate this harmful practice. Yemen, a country in the Middle East, is one such nation where child marriage has deep roots in its culture and traditions. This article aims to shed light on the prevalence of child marriage in Yemen, its causes, consequences, and efforts made to combat this harmful practice.

Prevalence of Child Marriage in Yemen:

Yemen has one of the highest rates of child marriage globally, with approximately two-thirds of girls being married before the age of 18, and around a third before the age of 15. According to UNICEF, the practice of child marriage is widespread throughout the country, especially in rural areas. Poverty, lack of education, traditional customs, and societal pressures are some factors that contribute to the high prevalence of child marriage in Yemen.

Causes of Child Marriage in Yemen:

1. Poverty: Poverty is a significant factor that drives child marriage in Yemen. Many families, particularly in rural areas, struggle to meet basic needs, and marrying off their daughters at an early age is seen as a way to alleviate economic burdens.

2. Limited Educational Opportunities: Limited access to education is another contributing factor to child marriage. In Yemen, girls face higher barriers to education due to societal norms and gender discrimination. The lack of education perpetuates the cycle of poverty and illiteracy, making child marriage seem like a more viable option for families.

3. Traditional Customs and Patriarchal Society: Yemen has a patriarchal society where traditional customs, social norms, and gender roles play a significant role. The perception that girls are a burden on their families and that marriage is their primary purpose often leads to early unions.

Consequences of Child Marriage:

Child marriage has severe consequences on the lives of young girls in Yemen. These consequences include:

1. Health Risks: Early pregnancies and childbirth pose significant health risks for young girls, as their bodies are not fully developed. Child brides are more susceptible to complications during childbirth and are at a higher risk of maternal mortality.

2. Limited Opportunities: Child marriage effectively ends a girl’s education and hinders her overall development. Girls who are married at a young age are more likely to drop out of school, limiting their career prospects and economic independence.

3. Increased Gender Inequality: Child marriage perpetuates gender inequality by denying girls opportunities for personal growth, independence, and decision-making power. It reinforces the idea that girls are subordinate to men and perpetuates harmful gender stereotypes.

Efforts to Combat Child Marriage:

International organizations, local NGOs, government agencies, and religious leaders have made efforts to combat child marriage in Yemen. These efforts include:

1. Legislation and Policies: Yemeni authorities have enacted legislation and policies aimed at raising the legal age for marriage to 18. However, implementation and enforcement of these laws remain a challenge due to the deeply ingrained cultural practices.

2. Awareness Campaigns: Various organizations conduct awareness campaigns to educate families, communities, and young girls about the negative impacts of child marriage. These campaigns aim to change societal attitudes and perceptions towards the practice.

3. Empowerment Programs: NGOs and international organizations provide support and empowerment programs for young girls at risk of child marriage. These programs aim to provide education, vocational training, and economic opportunities, enabling girls to have a better future.


1. Q: What is the legal age for marriage in Yemen?
A: The legal age for marriage in Yemen is 15 for girls and 16 for boys. However, efforts are being made to raise the legal age to 18.

2. Q: Why does child marriage continue despite legal restrictions?
A: Child marriage continues due to deeply rooted cultural traditions, social norms, poverty, and limited enforcement of existing laws and regulations.

3. Q: How does child marriage affect boys in Yemen?
A: While child marriage predominantly affects girls, boys can also be affected by this harmful practice. Early marriages rob boys of their childhood and hinder their education and prospects for a better future.

4. Q: How can the international community support efforts to eradicate child marriage in Yemen?
A: The international community can support efforts to combat child marriage in Yemen by providing funding, technical assistance, and diplomatic pressure. Collaborative initiatives involving governments, NGOs, and religious leaders can help raise awareness and promote change.


Child marriage in Yemen remains a deeply ingrained tradition that poses significant challenges to the well-being and development of young girls. Addressing this issue requires a holistic approach, including legislative reform, educational opportunities, and a change in societal attitudes. By combating child marriage, Yemen has the potential to empower its girls and contribute to a more equal and just society.

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