As much as I LOVE learning about different cultures and the normative behaviour within them, yesterday I ended up taking in an article I WISH I could unread called “Yemen: 8 year old girl dies from internal injuries on wedding night”. After reading the title my mind scrambled to make sense of it all, and I asked myself “did they forget the 1, 2, or 3 in front of the 8?” But after seeing the young girl’s picture, I realized that not only was 8 was the right age, but she also actually WAS a bride. But the grim part of the sentence was “internal injuries”, which I initially interpreted as her 40-year old husband physically assaulting her for whatever reason (punches to the chest, knees to the stomach, etc.), but after realizing what was implied, I instantly became SICK. But here’s the crazy thing: Technically her husband broke no Yemeni laws.
Figures state that a quarter of all Yemeni girls marry before the age of 15, and after the country repealed a short-lived law in 2009 that set the minimum age for marriage at 17, it’s clear that there is a deep religious and cultural acceptance of this practice in some of the rural areas of Yemen. So let’s just fast-forward to the issue that we’re ALL wondering: What should the global community’s response be?
The first thing I must state is that the factuality of the story is in question. Yemeni officials are not only denying the young girl, who has only been identified as “Rawan”, has died, but they are also stating that she NEVER married in the first place. The freelance journalist who reported the story claims it’s 100% true based on the words of the girls neighbours. The reality is, this story needs to be confirmed BEFORE we can believe it to be true, but whether or not it’s real, we need to REALIZE that young girls being forced into marriage is happening on a GRAND SCALE. In fact, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimates that between 2011 and 2020, roughly 140 million girls will become child brides.
So, once again, what should our collective global response be? Girls all over the globe are being legally enslaved, yet it seems this issue does not receive the attention it should. To be honest, I have no grand ideology on how this practice can be stopped or prevented, but I know spreading knowledge is a CRUCIAL element to eliciting any real change. So regardless of whether “Rawan” is alive, married, or made up, it doesn’t discount the reality that this barbaric practice is more than just a small occurrence.
This Is Your Conscience