Monday, September 14, 2009

The Brides of Death

A 12-year-old Yemeni girl, who was forced into marriage, has died during a difficult delivery in which her baby also died, a children's rights organisation said on Sunday, demanding action to stop Yemeni men taking child brides.

Raised in an impoverished family with a father suffering from kidney failure, Fawziya was forced to drop out of school and was married off at the age of 11. Such marriages are widespread on Yemen's Red Sea coast. Since young girls fetch a good bride-price, almost half of all little girls and teenage females are married(sold) off before the age of 15 in rural parts of Yemen, one of the world's poorest countries despite its proximity to oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

Last year, a Yemeni court granted a divorce to ten year old girl whose unemployed father forced her into an arranged marriage with a man 20 years her senior, because of the bride price she fetched, but later saying he feared she might otherwise be kidnapped by the would-be spouse.

Zana Muhsen was a 15-year-old English schoolgirl of Arab-British descent when her Yemeni father sold her in England in 1983 for $3000 to a countryman as a wife for his 14-year-old son. Her sister, Nadia, also 14, was sold for the same purpose and bride price to another Yemeni, whose son was 13.

The two sisters were detained against their will in Yemen for eight years with husbands they did not want, having babies they did not want, before diplomatic pressure and assistance from the international media finally freed Zana. Nadia stayed behind because of her children, who, due to the bride price, always remain with the father in case of a divorce.

In her best-selling book, Sold: A Story of Modern-Day Slavery, Zana outlined the two British sisters’ years of suffering, physical abuse and primitive living and working conditions in Yemen.

This is the 2007 UNICEF photo of the year representing the plight of the millions of girls sold as child brides every year.


Vinod_Sharma said...

In many ways, time has stood still in this primitive societies where women continue to be treated as just a wee bit better than goods.

Pedophilia seems to be prevalent still all over the Arabian Peninsula. One keeps hearing of minor Indian girls being sold to Sheikhs! I don't what it will take to turn them into modern, progressive societies where women are respected and treated as equal.

BK Chowla said...

Civil society has to stand up and be heard.

Esha said...

wow.. this is scary..!

Sagarone said...

Yes, Vinod, time has indeed stood still in those societies since the advent of Islam and there is nothing anyone can do about it, because they have an example in the prophet marrying Ayesha when she was nine years old.

BK, the key word here is 'civil'.

Esha, yes it is scary that such incidents still keep happening in this day and age!

manju said...

It is so sad that these sort of things still keep happening.

And sadder still that the society where they take place do not view them as out of the ordinary.

And intellectuals in India continue to say that Muslim women have free choice whether to follow the customs of their religion, or not.

Balvinder Singh said...

And i thought 'it happenens only in India'

Such posts should shake up the powers that be to end such aweful plight of young girls. Thanks for sharing.

Sagarone said...

Yes Manju, it is sad that the society where this is happening does not view it as something deplorable.

Balwinder, bringing such primitive practices to light is the only way to shake up the powers that be.