YEMEN: "My Dad told me to sleep with my husband or I would be killed…but I refused"

10-year-old Yemeni girl was raped daily and beaten often by her much older ‘husband.’ Islamic Law permits girls to be married at age nine in Yemen.

It was every little girl’s dream; she was to get a new dress, jewellery, sweets and a party for all her friends. What 10-year-old Aisha did not know was that after the wedding party she would have to leave school, move to a village far from her parents’ home, cook and clean all day, and have sex with her older husband.

“He took out a special sheet and laid me down on it,” Aisha told IRIN, wringing her small plump hands.“After it, I started bleeding. It was so painful that I was crying and shouting, and since then I have seen him as death.”

After a week of fighting off her husband every night, Aisha’s father was called. He had received 200,000 Yemeni Rial ($1,000) for his daughter in ‘shart’, a Yemeni dowry, which he could not pay back.

“Usually the marriage will have been signed in the husband’s governorate and the judges may look more favorably on their own kinsmen,” said Nasser. “Many judges are governed by arcane views on women.”

“My Dad made a cup of tea and put some pills in it, which he gave me. The pills made me feel dizzy,” said Aisha. “My Dad told me to sleep with my husband, or he would kill me, but I refused.”  Instead Aisha broke a glass bottle over her head in a desperate attempt to stay awake. “My Dad hit me badly. I was bleeding from my mouth and nose,” she said.

After spending a few months in her husband’s home, where she said he would regularly drug her and beat her, Aisha managed to escape. Now, two years later, aged 12, she is unable to divorce him.

What Aisha wants is clear: “I’d rather die than go back to him,” she said, wiping a tear from behind her veil.

A bill passed in parliament in February 2009 setting the minimum age for marriage at 17 was rejected by the Islamic Sharia Codification Committee which said it was un-Islamic, according to local women’s rights organizations.

” The girls are forced to have children before their bodies are fully grown instead of going to school and playing with other children “ –Wafa Ahmad Ali from the Yemeni Women Union

So, for now, there is no law protecting children against early marriages in Yemen.

“I don’t call it marriage, but rape,” said Shada Mohammed Nasser, a lawyer at the High Court in Sanaa. She has represented several child bride divorce cases in court, but admits she has lost most of them. Only a handful of child brides have successfully managed to divorce their husbands. (The following is one of the success stories)

Incredible story of  a Yemeni 2nd grader who was married off to a 30-year old man against her will. Forced to have sex with her ‘husband,’ Nujoud Ali, now 10 years old, describes the horrors of being pulled out of school and forced into marriage. This courageous little girl ran away after just 12 days, went to the court, and demanded to be given a divorce so she could go back to school.

http://youtu.be/FzOVrfFtKcI

“The law on marriage stipulates that a girl should not sleep with her husband until she is mature,” said Nasser, which according to the law is the age of 15. “But the law is not enforced.”

A girl can be married at just nine, but cannot legally seek a divorce until she is 15 or older. The money paid by the husband for his “wife” is a further obstacle to divorce, while the case can only be heard in a court in the governorate where the marriage took place. al-ARABIYA

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