A Yemeni mother has fled her home with her nine- and 10-year-old daughters after her husband reportedly married off one and planned to wed another to middle-aged men for money.
Hayat Abdo Mohammed Awadh, from the city of Ibb in the south-western Yemeni governorate of the same name, reportedly took refuge with the Yemeni Women’s Union to protect her young daughters.
The mother has also filed a complaint against her unnamed husband for marrying off their 10-year-old daughter Nedal to a 40-something lawyer who had just divorced his previous wife, according to local media.
The father was also about to marry off the couple’s nine-year-old daughter Maram to another man when the mum intervened.
Hayat has also asked the authorities to stop attempts to marry of girls before they reach womanhood.
After taking refuge with her two girls at the women’s union, Hayat wrote to the governor of Ibb to ask him to prevent her husband from marrying off Nedal and Maram in exchange for money, according to reports.
The mother explained that her husband has repeatedly tried to marry off the children. He has already approved Nedal’s marriage to a middle-aged man when his 40-something lawyer stepped in and married the minor himself, according to local media.
She was quoted as saying: “We’re so tired of this. Child marriages are not marriages, it’s rape.”
Local media said that child marriages have become a contentious issue in Yemen, especially since the country’s civil war erupted five years ago.
Many families are reportedly forced to sell their children to older men for cash.
However, some Yemenis claim that the marriages are a practical way of protecting children from being raped or kidnapped by Houthi rebels who currently control the region.
Under current laws, there is no minimum legal age of marriage in Yemen. The government’s Sharia Legislative Committee has blocked attempts to raise marriage age to either 15 or 18, on grounds that any law setting minimum age for girls is un-Islamic.
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