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Last updated: 12:48:17 AM GMT(+03) Monday, 09, September, 2013
 
 

Yemen's faces false child marriage accusations

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*
 Yemen Post Staff
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By Shaher Abdulhak Saleh
 

Earlier this week Kuwaiti newspaper caught wind of the death of an eight-year old Yemeni school girl, Rawan, who reportedly had died from internal injuries on her wedding night in the northern province of Hajja.
Outraged by the report of yet another senseless child-bride's death in Yemen incensed Kuwaitis and prompted calls for immediate and harsh sanctions against whoever was involved in allowing a pre-pubescent eight-years old Yemeni school girl to marry a man five times her age.
As the news spread like wild fire, netizens took their protests to Twitter, Facebook and their personal blog, determined to protest child marriage and what they perceived as child abuse.
Rights activists both in Kuwait and Yemen have reacted to the report and urged the Yemeni authorities to pursue the matter legally, and thus send a strong message that Yemen would not stand for the abuse of its children.
A Kuwaiti blogger urged the Yemeni government to severely punish "the beastly groom". Another angry netizen branded the groom, "an animal who deserved to be punished severely for his crime." He continued, "All those who supported such a crime should also be punished."
A netizen going by the name, Bu Omar wrote, "Rawan’s family members are not humans. They do not deserve to have children."
Child marriage has always been a contention and controversial issue in Yemen with religious authorities having argued that Islam does not put an age limit per se on marriage and instead only requires that enlightened concent be given.
Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the highest religious body in the Sunni world, has released a manual on the rights of Muslim children which reads "Marriage in Islam is regulated by certain rules, namely, children must reach puberty and maturity so that they can get married."
A Kuwaiti blogger urged the Yemeni government to severely punish "the beastly groom". Another angry netizen branded the groom, "an animal who deserved to be punished severely for his crime." He continued, "All those who supported such a crime should also be punished."
As outrage is growing in magnitude as more media have picked up Rawan's tale, the Yemen Post set out to investigate the matter, determined to shed light on such grave allegations of abuse.
As it turned out, news outlets seem to have jumped to the wrong conclusion, basing their reports on assumptions and mis-apprehensions rather than facts.
Local security officials and journalists in Hajja have denied media reports in block, rejecting Mohammad Radman's version of event. Radman first broke the story after hearing a testimony from Rawan's neighbors.
Standing by his story, Radman has confirmed that his sources are willing to testify before a court of law should the need arisen.
Mosleh Al Azzani, the director of Criminal Investigation in Harradh district where the marriage allegedly took place told reporters he confronted Rawan's father on the matter.
“When I heard the rumours, I called the girl’s father. He came with his daughter and denied the marriage and death of his daughter. I have the photos of the girl and will show it to anyone.”
Aziz Saleh, a local investigative journalist also confirmed that he personally contacted the authorities and received assurances that media reports had been fabricated.
“All of them maintained that neither the marriage nor death had taken place,” he said.
Back in Sana'a, Ahmed al-Qurishi, the head of SEYAJ Organization for Childhood Protection, an NGO which advocates children’s rights also told reporters on Monday that Radman' story is but a work of fiction.
Al-Qurishi stressed, "I got in touch with the director of Criminal Investigation, Hajja’s prosecutor and the province’s security chief who all flatly denied the story,” he said.
Al Qurishi said that his organization conducted its own investigation into the issue by sending some activists to the area.” The preliminary results show that the story was untrue."
He added “Some people create these stories to get publicity and attention and aid from international organizations."
It is the second time in less than six months that Yemen has to face false child marriage accusations.
This is sadly taking away from the real victims of abuse as their pain and suffering is being trivialized by attention seekers and ill-wishers.

*With additional reporting from gulf news

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

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Yemen Post Staff
*
Source: Yemen Post Newspaper
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