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Child Brides (2014): More than 40% of marriages in Yemen’s poorest areas are celebrated with girls younger than 15. Subjected to sexual violence, many die as a result of internal bleeding, childbirth, or attempt suicide.

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“It’s destiny. People marry young girls all the time”, says the father of Jamila, who was sold into marriage aged 12 to resolve a debt issue. In one of the world’s most conservative countries, a strict interpretation of Islam dictates people’s lives. Poverty, mass unemployment, a culture of glorifying the beauty of young girls, lack of a legal framework, and increasingly, marriage tourism from the Gulf, makes the work of human rights advocates difficult. In Al-Qaeda’s last stronghold, child brides are a political issue. Abdelmalik al-Taji, a professor of Islamic Law, argues that it’s not a question of compassion nor a matter of protection for the girls, instead fixed minimum age for marriage “has been proposed by the UN who wish to impose their laws on the whole world”. According to him, when a body of a girl reaches maturity it is ready for marriage, even at the age of 10. Meanwhile, a doctor relates a case of a 14 year old who was rushed to the hospital on her wedding night. A case of severe bleeding caused by a tear in her vagina led to her death. Aisha, who describes her wedding night as the biggest shock of her life, drank rat poison to escape her abusive husband: “I wanted to free myself from it all”.

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