Despite the case of a refusal on the part of an eight year old girl’s “husband” to grant her a divorce, Yemen’s parliament apparently does not consider the issue of female children’s rights to be of importance. A parliamentary committee turned down the request by the Women’s National Committee(WNC) for a law establishng a minimum age for marriage. Shatha Mohmmed Nasser, a lawyer, argued the case of an eight year-old girl is an excellent opportunity to push through much needed legislation that would protect the rights of young girls. “There are hundreds of (such cases) who have been subjected to sexual abuse by mature men. The problem is that there is no law to punish a father who marries off the child, the sheikh who allows the marriage, or the husband who takes the child home to serve him as a wife.”
Nujood Ali, the young girl, walked into a court by herself and asked for an end to the sexual abuse which her family has allowed to happen by marrying her to a thirty year-old man. Her husband told the world: “I will not divorce her, and it is my right to keep her. No need to sleep with her, at least I can have her as a wife. It is not a matter of lovng her. I don’t, but it’s just a challenge to her and her uncle who think that they can put me in jail and also the judge whas no right to bring me here. How did she dare to complain about me?”
Technically speaking, the husband is within his rights under Yemen law. Nujood is being protected by a kind judge and a sympathetic uncle. A study of mariage in Yemen reveals the average age is about 10 to 14 for women depending on the region of the country. Is there something wrong with this picture? Where are Muslim leaders in the world? Why aren’t they protesting?