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Saturday, September 12, 2009

12-year old Yemeni girl dies - in labor

From AP:
A 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labor to give birth, a local human rights organization said Saturday.

Fawziya Abdullah Youssef died of severe bleeding on Friday while giving birth to a stillborn in the al-Zahra district hospital of Hodeida province, 140 miles (223 kilometers) west of the capital San'a.

Child marriages are widespread in Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, where tribal customs dominate society. More than a quarter of the country's females marry before age 15, according to a recent report by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Youssef was only 11 when her father married her to a 24-year-old man who works as a farmer in Saudi Arabia, said Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of Siyaj human rights organization, which promotes the rights of children in Yemen.

Impoverished parents in Yemen sometimes give away their young daughters in return for hefty dowries. There is also a long-standing tribal custom in which infant daughters and sons are promised to cousins in hopes it will protect them from illicit relationships, he said.

In February, parliament passed a law setting the minimum marriage age at 17. But some lawmakers are trying to kill the measure, calling it un-Islamic. Before it could be ratified by Yemen's president, they forced it to be sent back to parliament's constitutional committee for review.