(WNN/EQ) Amman, JORDAN, WESTERN ASIA: The Human Rights Ministry of Yemen has confirmed that one of its officials has helped to prevent the wedding of a 12-year-old girl, which was due to take place earlier this month. Hiba was to be married in Taiz, Southern Yemen, but the official notified local police who ensured an immediate divorce. There have been reports too of similar interventions taking place in other parts of the country.
With no minimum age of marriage in Yemen, while Hiba and others are out of danger for the moment, without any legal sanctions to support them, these girls remain at serious risk.
However, things may be about to change at last. The Human Rights Ministry, under Hooria Mashhour’s strong leadership, has put child marriage at the top of its agenda. This ministry has been responsible for putting pressure on other members of government to ensure that a minimum age of marriage draft bill is introduced at the next opportunity as part of the ‘National Dialogue’, the process which has followed the country’s recent political uprising.
Fouad Al Ghaffari from the Ministry has indicated that this bill might be introduced by the Minister of Legal Affairs in the very near future. It will probably be based on a 2009 bill, which had proposed fixing the minimum age of marriage for girls at age 17. This was initially backed by Yemeni women and children’s rights organizations, but in late 2010, it was effectively blocked by traditional and religious leaders and the parliament’s Shariah committee. It is hoped that there will be more support on this occasion, but it is far from certain.