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Yemen

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
9%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
32%

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

Photo credit: USAID

Taux de mariages d'enfants
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 15 ans
9%
UNICEF 2017 % mariées avant l’âge de 18 ans
32%

* Références

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.

What's the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage?

According to the most recent DHS data from 2013, 32% of girls in Yemen are married before their 18th birthday and 9% are married before the age of 15.

Child marriage is most common in Al-Jawf and Al-Baidha Governorates.

Prevalence rates may have changed significantly since conflict in the country began, given that child marriage has been used both as a coping mechanism to protect girls and sustain families, and has left child brides with nowhere to turn due to a break down in welfare services and schools.

Are there country-specific drivers of child marriage in this country?

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys.

Yemen remains one of the world’s largest humanitarian crisis. After 5 years of a deadly conflict, millions of Yemenis suffer constant threats to their lives compounded with looming famine and disease outbreaks. As of December 2019, 24 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Humanitarian crisis exacerbate poverty, insecurity, and lack of access to services such as education, factors which all drive child marriage. While gender inequality is a root cause of child marriage in both stable and crisis contexts, often in times of crisis, families see child marriage as a way to cope with greater economic hardship and to protect girls from increased violence.

In Yemen, child marriage is exacerbated by:

  • Poverty: Yemen is the poorest country in the Middle East. Girls are increasingly being married off as a source of income (the bride price) as ongoing conflict drives families deeper into poverty and desperation.
  • Armed conflict: Child marriage is considered to reduce the cost of caring for girls and offer them better protection through husbands. In addition, the UN Child Rights Committee has expressed concern that girls in conflict-affected communities are being forcibly married to members of the Ansar-al-Sharia, a jihadist group associated with Al-Qaeda.
  • Trafficking: Reports also mention that girls have been married through “tourism” marriages with wealthy men from the for the Gulf Arab region, for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  • Level of education: Before the conflict, many parents forced girls to leave school when they reach puberty to help with household chores and prepare them for marriage. Since the conflict started, more than 2 million children have lost access to schools, making girls more vulnerable to child marriage.
  • Family honour: Some parents marry off their daughters to preserve family honour, and to protect them from engaging in what the society considers as “shameful behaviour” (preventing them to have any sexual activity outside marriage)
  • Gender norms: Girls in Yemen live in a patriarchal, male-dominated society, and have little power to negotiate their own choices. Article 40 of the Personal Status Law requires a wife’s obedience to her husband and his consent to leave the home.

What has this country committed to?

Yemen has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Yemen co-sponsored the 2013 Human Rights Council resolution on child, early and forced marriage.

Yemen ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1991, which sets a minimum age of marriage of 18, and acceded to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1984, which obligates states to ensure free and full consent to marriage.

During its 2014 Universal Periodic Review, Yemen’s Minister of Human Rights was commended on taking an active stance against child marriage. Yemen supported recommendations to promote girls’ education as a means of eradicating child marriage and to ensure children can comprehend and establish full, free and informed consent about marriage.

During its 2019 Universal Periodic Review, Yemen supported recommendations to take measures to end the practice of forced and child marriage and accelerate the drafting, adoption and implementation of laws establishing the age of marriage.

In 2019, at the Nairobi Summit on ICPD25, Yemen committed to ending all forms of violence against women and girls by 2030, including early and forced marriage.

At the London Girl Summit in July 2014, the government signed a charter committing to end child marriage by 2020.

Yemen is a partner country of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). 

What is the government doing to address this at the national level?

Yemen is a focus country of the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage, a multi-donor, multi-stakeholder programme working across 12 countries over four years. In 2018, the UNICEF-UNFPA Global Programme reached and empowered 5200 adolescent girls with life skills training, and more than 65,400 people were reached by UNICEF with key messages on the prevention of child marriage.

However, the situation in Yemen is not conducive to legislative and policy progress and child marriage is not a priority to the government. UNFPA and UNICEF are working with the de-facto authorities to ensure that the most vulnerable adolescent girls are reached, including in emergency responses.

It is difficult for civil society organisations to operate within Yemen, therefore knowledge about child marriage prevention and response is very limited.

Previously, in January 2014, Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference, a 565-member forum created to establish the building blocks of a new Constitution, recommended that the government set the minimum age for marriage at 18 in accordance with international standards. However, the political crisis in Yemen has paralysed parliamentary action on this.

A powerful group of conservative parliamentarians have opposed setting a minimum age for marriage, arguing that it will lead to immorality, undermine family values and contradict Sharia law.

Yemen Organization for Combatting Human Trafficking implemented a community-led awareness project on the harmful consequences of child marriage in Yemen-Sana’a, but the conflict has made it challenging to continue.

The Safe Age of Marriage project was piloted in 2009 in Amran Governorate. The project covered communities in Al-Sawd and Al-Soodeh districts, where only 8% of girls aged 15-17 attended school.

The Danish Refugee Council has worked with community leaders in Saada to raise awareness about the dangers of child marriage.

What is the minimum legal framework around marriage?

Under the amended Personal Status Law 1999 there is no minimum legal age of marriage.

The Yemeni government Sharia Legislative Committee has blocked attempts to raise marriage age to either 15 or 18, on grounds that any law setting minimum age for girls is contrary to Islamic law.

Source

European Commission, Yemen, [website], 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/echo/where/middle-east/yemen (accessed March 2020). 

Girl Summit 2014, The Girl Summit Charter on Ending FGM and Child, Early and Forced Marriage, [website], 2015, https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/459236/Public_Girl_Summit_Charter_with_Signatories.pdf (accessed March 2020). 

Global Partnership for Education, Yemen, [website], https://www.globalpartnership.org/where-we-work/yemen (accessed March 2020).

Human Rights Watch, « How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married? » Child Marriage in Yemen, 2011, https://www.hrw.org/report/2011/12/07/how-come-you-allow-little-girls-get-married/child-marriage-yemen (accessed March 2020). 

Human Rights Watch, Yemen: End Child Marriage. Enact Law Establishing Minimum Age; Punish Violators, [website], 2014, https://www.hrw.org/news/2014/04/27/yemen-end-child-marriage (accessed March 2020). 

International Crisis Group, Yemen’s al-Qaeda: Expanding the Base, [website], 2017, https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/gulf-and-arabian-peninsula/yemen/174-yemen-s-al-qaeda-expanding-base (accessed March 2020).

International Rescue Committee, Protection, Participation and Potential. Women and Girls in Yemen’s War, 2019, https://www.rescue.org/report/protection-participation-and-potential-women-and-girls-yemens-war (accessed March 2020).

Ministry of Public Health and Population, Central Statistical Organization, Pan Arab Program for Family Health and ICF International, Yemen National Health and Demographic Survey 2013, 2015, https://dhsprogram.com/pubs/pdf/FR296/FR296.pdf (accessed March 2020).

Nairobi Summit, Ending gender-based violence and other harmful practices, [website], 2019, http://www.nairobisummiticpd.org/commitment/ending-gender-based-violence-and-other-harmful-practices-2 (accessed March 2020).

OCHA, Yemen, [website], https://www.unocha.org/yemen (accessed March 2020). 

The Independent, Yemen war: The girl forced to marry at 11 whose story exposes the conflict’s toll on children, [website], 2016, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/yemen-war-the-girl-forced-to-marry-at-11-whose-story-exposes-the-conflicts-toll-on-children-a7125151.html (accessed March 2020). 

UN Child Rights Committee, Concluding observations on the fourth periodic report on Yemen, 2014, https://www.refworld.org/type,CONCOBSERVATIONS,CRC,YEM,52f89d5c4,0.html (accessed March 2020).

UN ESCWA, Child Marriage in Humanitarian Settings in the Arab Region, 2015, https://www.unescwa.org/publications/child-marriage-humanitarian-settings-arab-region-dynamics-challenges-and-policy-options (accessed April 2020).

UN General Assembly, Compilation prepared by the Office of the UN HCHR in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 Yemen, 2013, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/YEIndex.aspx (accessed March 2020). 

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Yemen, 2014, p.20, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/YEIndex.aspx (accessed March 2020).

UN General Assembly, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Yemen, 2019, p. 16-17, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/YEIndex.aspx (accessed March 2020). 

UN General Assembly, Summary prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in accordance with paragraph 15 (b) of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 5/1 and paragraph 5 of the annex to Council resolution 16/21 Yemen, 2013, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/YEIndex.aspx (accessed March 2020). 

UNFPA, Families increasingly resort to child marriage as Yemen’s conflict grinds on, [website], 2016, https://www.unfpa.org/news/families-increasingly-resort-child-marriage-yemen%E2%80%99s-conflict-grinds (accessed March 2020).

UNICEF MENA, Child Marriage in the Middle East and North Africa – Yemen Country Brief, 2017, https://www.unicef.org/mena/media/1821/file/%20MENACMReportYemenBrief.pdf.pdf (accessed March 2020). 

UNFPA and UNICEF, The Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage – 2018 Annual Report Country Profiles, 2019, https://www.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/resource-pdf/UNFPA-2.PDF (accessed March 2020). 

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United States Agency for International Development, Safe Age of Marriage” in Yemen: Fostering Change in Social Norm, 2010, https://toolkits.knowledgesuccess.org/sites/default/files/esd_legacy_child_marriage.pdf (accessed March 2020). 

Yemen Organization for Combating Human Trafficking, [website], https://www.yocht.org/?lang=en (accessed March 2020).

Fait référence au pourcentage de femmes âgées de 20 à 24 ans qui ont été mariées ou en concubinage avant le l’âge de 15 ou 18 ans.