Unveiling the Crisis: The Persistence of Child Marriage in Yemen in 2021

# Unveiling the Crisis: The Persistence of Child Marriage in Yemen

Child marriage, defined as a formal marriage or informal union before the age of 18, is a stark violation of human rights yet remains a persistent issue in many parts of the world. Yemen, a nation characterized by its rich history and unique culture, faces an ongoing crisis where child marriage is prevalent, deeply rooted in traditional customs, and exacerbated by ongoing conflict and economic instability. This comprehensive analysis delves into the multifaceted aspects of child marriage in Yemen, examining its causes, consequences, and the efforts needed to combat this crisis.

## Contextualizing Child Marriage in Yemen

Yemen is ranked among the poorest countries in the Arab world, with its populace grappling with widespread poverty, malnutrition, and a lack of basic services—a situation worsened by the conflict that has ravaged the country since 2015. Amidst this turmoil, child marriage has emerged not only as a deeply entrenched cultural norm but also as a coping mechanism for families struggling to survive.

According to a report by UNICEF, despite legal frameworks that set the minimum age for marriage at 18, enforcement remains lax, and child marriage is rampant. The socio-economic drivers, coupled with the breakdown of formal justice systems due to conflict, have led to an increase in child marriages, further perpetuating the cycle of poverty and education deprivation, especially among girls.

## The Driving Forces Behind Child Marriage

The persistence of child marriage in Yemen can be understood through several lenses:

– **Economic Hardship**: Many families view child marriage as a financial relief strategy, marrying off daughters to reduce household expenses or secure dowries.
– **Cultural Practices and Norms**: In many communities, there is a deeply rooted belief that marrying girls at a young age protects familial honor and ensures that they remain virgins until marriage.
– **Lack of Education**: The disruption of education for girls, partly due to conflict and also because of socio-cultural beliefs that prioritize boys’ education, leaves them with limited alternatives to marriage.
– **Legal Loopholes**: Although laws exist on paper setting the legal age for marriage, enforcement is weak, and legal exceptions are often exploited.

## The Consequences of Child Marriage

Child brides face immense challenges that affect their health, wellbeing, and future prospects:

– **Health Risks**: Early marriage and childbirth have been linked to increased risks of maternal and infant mortality, as well as other health complications.
– **Education and Economic Impact**: Married girls are often forced to leave school, limiting their future employment opportunities and economic independence.
– **Psychological Effects**: The pressure and responsibilities that come with marriage and motherhood at a young age can have profound psychological effects, including depression and isolation.

“Marriage can wait; education cannot.” This quote by Khaled Hosseini echoes the urgent need to prioritize education for girls in Yemen as a strategy to combat child marriage.

## Efforts to Combat Child Marriage in Yemen

Combating child marriage in a conflict-ridden country like Yemen requires a multifaceted approach:

– **Strengthening Legal Frameworks and Enforcement**: While Yemen has laws that set the legal age for marriage, stricter enforcement and closing legal loopholes are crucial.
– **Community Awareness and Education**: Engaging community leaders, religious figures, and families in dialogue and education about the harms of child marriage can shift social norms.
– **Empowering Girls**: Providing girls with access to education, vocational training, and life skills can empower them to make informed decisions about their lives and futures.

## Towards a Brighter Future

Addressing the crisis of child marriage in Yemen demands concerted efforts from the international community, national governments, NGOs, and local communities. It involves not only tackling the immediate drivers of child marriage but also building a more equitable and stable society where girls can aspire to a future beyond marriage.

“Let us make our future now, and let us make our dreams tomorrow’s reality,” aptly stated by Malala Yousafzai, urges us to act decisively in eliminating child marriage and securing a better future for the girls of Yemen.

## FAQs

**1. What is the legal age for marriage in Yemen?**
The legal age for marriage in Yemen is technically 18, following amendments to the Personal Status Law. However, enforcement of this law is weak, and exceptions are often made.

**2. Why is child marriage more prevalent in certain regions of Yemen?**
Child marriage is more common in rural and conflict-affected areas due to higher levels of poverty, lack of education and healthcare services, and stronger adherence to traditional customs.

**3. Can international organizations intervene in Yemen to stop child marriage?**
International organizations can and do intervene through awareness campaigns, providing education and health services, and supporting legal reforms. However, their ability to operate is often hampered by the security situation and restrictions imposed by conflicting parties.

**4. What can I do to help combat child marriage in Yemen?**
Supporting reputable NGOs working on the ground in Yemen, advocating for policy changes in your country to support girls’ rights globally, and raising awareness about the issue can contribute to the fight against child marriage.

Child marriage in Yemen is not just a violation of human rights; it is a complex issue intertwined with cultural, economic, and legal factors. Tackling it requires understanding, patience, and sustained effort from all sectors of society—to rewrite the narrative for Yemen’s girls, allowing them to dream of a future shaped by their talents, interests, and ambitions, rather than one dictated by tradition and poverty.

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In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married

Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18

That is 23 girls every minute

Nearly 1 every 2 seconds




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