Yemen Right-Wingers Blocked Push to End Child Marriages

Conservatives claimed introducing minimum marriage age was un-Islamic
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2009 3:17 AM CDT
Yemeni women walk past the capital's Saleh Mosque to attend prayers .   (AP Photo/Mohammed al-Qadhi)
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(Newser) – Conservative lawmakers in Yemen, where a 12-year-old girl died giving birth to her husband's child last week, shot down an attempt to set the minimum marriage age at 17 earlier this year, CNN reports. The lawmakers kept the bill from reaching the country's president by arguing that it violated Islamic law, which does not stipulate any minimum age for marriage.

The Yemeni government argues that it is trying to end the practice of men marrying young girls through an education campaign, but over half of Yemeni women are married before they turn 18. "When they're pushed into marriage, they are pushed into early pregnancy," which is a "recipe for disaster" because of health risks, said a Yemeni UNICEF spokesman. "Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s."