Community comes together for early marriage victims [Archives:2008/1180/Front Page]

August 11 2008

SANA'A, Aug. 10 ) Around 80 people gathered last Thursday at Yemen Times' offices to celebrate Nojoud, Arwa and Reem: the three Yemeni girls who sought their freedom from unjust marriages. Members of the Parliament, businessmen, social figures, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and representatives of the foreign community in Yemen shared their joy with Nojoud and Arwa for their escape from these marriages. However, Reem, who is 12 years old, has yet to get a divorce from a husband.

The guests sang happy birthday for the girls as a symbol of their new beginnings. Following the singing, the girls cut a large cake that came as a gift from the Universal Group. Some of the attendees presented gifts to the girls who were delighted at the kind gestures.

While the girls were having fun at the Yemeni Equestrian Club, the remaining attendees discussed early marriage as a phenomenon in Yemen and debated different ways to deal with it. Although no one specific answer came about from the discussion, everyone agreed to participate each in their own capabilities to help such victims and prevent more early marriages from happening.

The main highlights of the discussion were the need for a legislation that defines a minimum age for marriage, community awareness to help a cultural change and creating facilities to shelter girls who had run away from such marriages.

It was mentioned however, that there had been enormous efforts ongoing for the past seven years on this issue, and that members of the Parliament and powerful religious leaders had shown some positive changes towards helping stop early marriage, which is very crucial because the legislative proposals for defining a minimum age for marriage are to be forwarded to the Parliament for discussion in the coming months.