Child Brides

Child Brides
Internationally the age of marriage in many countries is rarely enforced. Child marriages have been common for centuries, especially in Saudi and Yemen. Yemen has had an age of clause law on the books since in 1994, which lists the age of consent as 15 years. However, the law is rarely enforced. This has allowed many Yemen fathers to sell their daughters to the highest bidder, often before she has reached her teen years.

Child marriages or pre-planned marriages allow families to decide who will marry their daughter. Girls become brides sold on the market often before reaching their teen years, by the age of 12. In Yemen, child brides have been sold and married off as young as 8 or 10 years of age. Do you wonder how this could happen in the year 2014? You are not alone.

Consider the infrastructure of the family in Yemen. A male child or a son can help support the family by going to work and providing for their families at an early age. Countless sons will continue to provide for his parents until their death, even after he has married and begun supporting his own family. In many countries, women are denied the opportunity to work hard labor jobs; after all, it is a man’s world in countless third world countries.

This makes a daughter who is unable to find a good job to help support the family a financial burden, rather than a lifetime asset. When women are considered a financial burden to a struggling family, there is but one choice to consider. This is why daughters are labeled less worthy than a son s financially. Perhaps this rationale makes it easier for a family to sell a daughter at an early age to an older man who openly plans to marry the girl. An older that already has one or more wives.

Yemen is especially rampant with child brides, despite an attempt to pass laws regarding the official age a female child can be sold into marriage. In 2009, Islamic parliament passed a law requiring girls to be a minimum of 18 years before being sold into marriage. Yet, as fast as this law went into effect it was quickly deemed un-Islamic to place a minimum age for marriage for girls. In other words, it is un-Islamic to protect girls from rape and childhood sexual abuse by implementing a legal age of marriage.

Many children are sold at an early age when the father and bride’s future husband make a verbal agreement that sex will not prevail in the relationship until the child has reached puberty. The notion is a nice but realistically does not hold water. Nothing prevents the child bride’s new husband from changing his mind or dishonoring the agreement later.

After all many countries still value woman only as an object and not as a person which means the father and or husband owns her and may do as he wishes. Awhile ago I wrote about a Yemen girl who struggled in child birth for 3 days before dying, she was 12 when she died. There was another girl, Nujood Ali, who just turned 10 years old, who was sold into marriage to an older man. She was taken abruptly from her school one day and forced into marriage. Yet, she successfully fought for a divorce when her husband tried to force himself on her. She made her way to a courthouse and refused to leave until someone addressed her situation.

Yemen is working toward outlawing child brides this year. They are trying to change the law so the age of marriage will be 18 but if the new law is not enforced it is likely that the fate of child brides will continue,

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