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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Women's Rights, Yemen: Women protest child bride law

On Sunday 21 March in Yemen, hundreds of women gathered in front of Sana'as's parliament building to protest for their rights, specifically against the government establishing a minimum legal age for marriage.

According to The National, most of the protesters carried the Quran and some held posters that said such a requirement for marriage went against sharia, or Islamic law. "Yes to the sharia rights of Muslim woman," read one poster. 

Following the demonstrations on Sunday, hundreds of Yemeni women held a counter protest on Monday outside Yemen's parliament building in support of the legislation. "No to the abuse of childhood, prevention of happiness and usurpation of life," one poster read. "Setting an age for marriage is a legal, humanitarian and developmental necessity," said another. 

The demonstrations came in the wake of a measure first approved by parliament last year, which stipulated that parents who marry off their daughters before the age of 17 and sons before 18 could face a year in jail or be fined US$500 (Dh1,800). 

According to Ms. Hooria Mashhoor, the vice chairwoman of the Woman's National Committee, "The speaker of the parliament names a committee to sit down and talk with the MPs who repealed the minimum age article. He suggested that the committee can discuss with these MPs that the marriage age remains as it is but the fine on the parents violating it can be removed. Some of the delegates, however, refused. We will see what comes up."

Depending on your viewpoint, this can be seen as an issue of the rights of a child and/or the rights of a woman. That said, even if it is perceived as as a case of the rights of a woman, it can still be argued from either side as some women support the law and some don't. I decline from taking a side; however, if I had to comment, I would have to say something along the lines of: If a girl, or even boy, is under the age of 16, she is considered a child. Anything under that I do not believe a girl or boy should be getting married or having children. They typically have not even finished puberty before that age. But, that is only my opinion. Thus, that said, girls and boys all over the world are having sex and even babies before the age of 16. So, as I have already stated, I decline to take any side.


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