Yemeni authorities are investigating the death of an eight-year-old girl from internal bleeding on her wedding night and will prosecute those responsible, the government said on Friday, a case that has rekindled international outrage over child brides.
Yemeni rights campaigner Arwa Othman said earlier this week that the girl, identified as Rawan, died after intercourse that ruptured her uterus following her wedding to a man five times her age. Residents in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province in northwestern Yemen confirmed the incident.
Ms. Othman said no action had been taken against the man.
“The government [of Yemen] is dealing seriously with this issue and it will investigate it and those responsible will be brought to justice,” Rajeh Badi, an aide to Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindwa, told Reuters.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged the Sanaa authorities on Friday to investigate the case “without delay and to prosecute all those responsible for this crime.”
The European Union spends some €60-million ($82.5-million) a year on aid to Yemen.
The suffering of young children married off by their families in Yemen has made headlines before. Five years ago, a girl named Nujood Ali was called the world’s youngest divorce when she escaped from her husband, a man in his 30s. She was nine when she was forced to marry and 10 when she was granted a divorce. She went on to write a book published widely in Europe about her experience.
Human Rights Watch previously urged Yemen’s government to ban marriages of girls under the age of 18. It said nearly 14 per cent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52 per cent before the age of 18. HRW said many Yemeni child brides-to-be are kept from school when they reach puberty.
Reuters, with a report from Globe Staff