Speaking to the Media Line, a non-profit news organization, Dr. Abdul-Baqi Shamsan, professor of sociology at Sana'a University warned against the ill-effects of exchanged marriages, noting such unions were disrupting family ties and creating much anguish.
Through a combination of widespread poverty and tribal tradition, Yemenis living in rural settings have for quiet some time now been practicing what is called exchange marriages.
In essence the practice consists in family members marrying each other's brother and sisters, daughters and sons.
For example a male cousin might marry his cousin under the condition that the other male cousin would marry his own sister and so on and so forth.
Through such an arrangement families seek not only to strengthen the bond that already unite them but also to retain the integrity of their finances by preventing money to be scattered to the four winds.
"Some tribal people adopt this form of marriage in order to strengthen the bonds between their families; or uses it in an attempt to extend their influence," said professor Shamsan.
Professor Shamsan argues that such marriages lower women to the status of commodities rather than human beings.
“In such exchange marriages, the women are dealt with as commodities by the family’s or group's elders, who strip them of their right to choose their life partners."
The Professor also noted that such unions often end in divorces, with the break-down of one marriage almost always leading to the destruction of all other-linked marriages, as familial retribution.
According to Abdulmalik Salah, a sociologist at the Yemen Center for Social Studies and Research Labor, 60% of exchange marriages end up in divorces.
"According to our knowledge of Yemeni society, we can say it's a widespread phenomenon in the rural areas, especially in poverty-stricken ones. Such areas constitute around 70% of the country and some 60% of couples marrying this way end up divorcing."
Salah explained that the factors behind this widespread phenomenon include harsh economic conditions, high illiteracy rates among people in the rural areas, and their lack of religious understanding.
"Exchange marriage is actually prohibited in Islam," said Salah.