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Thursday, April 17, 2008

Girl, 8 years old, granted divorce

We all know of divorce rates increasing as people evaluate their marriages and determine their happiness or unhappiness levels. But the assumption is that marriages and divorces are matters handled between adults, not minors. It sounds shocking to know that minors could be involved with matters of marriage and divorce, and even more shocking that this could involve a 8 year old. In most countries, this would be treated as a very serious criminal offence:

A Yemeni judge dissolved the marriage of an 8-year-old girl to a man nearly four times her age, and the girl's lawyer said Wednesday that the court also ordered the youngster removed from the control of the father who forced her into the wedding. The lawyer, Shatha Ali Nasser, said the girl is just one of thousands of underaged girls who have been forced into marriages in this poor tribal country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
The girl said her father forced her to marry a 30-year-old man she identified as Faiz Ali Thamer. She charged that her husband constantly beat her and forced her to have sex. In issuing his ruling Tuesday, the judge said he was terminating the marriage because the girl "had not reached puberty." A provision in Yemeni law allows parents to sign marriage contracts for children younger than 15. However, the article states that a husband can only consummate the marriage when the wife reaches puberty.

Overall, this is a very shocking case. Marriages to underage children are allowed under Yemeni law, and there are no provisions to prosecute the husband in such cases. It is the girl who had the courage to fight for her own case, and it is all the more brave given that she is only 8 years old.

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