WhispersTwo faces [Archives:2005/867/Culture]

August 11 2005

By Fahmia Al-Fotih
I still remember the first time I saw them. They were two children and they were so thin, wearing shabby clothes and I looked at their bare feet that were badly bleeding! At that moment I felt so furious for seeing that painful image and I wondered about the stonehearted mother they had! But I no longer wondered after I knew their story!

I was simply told that those two children were orphans and their father had just died in a traffic accident, leaving them with their young mother. I knew that they had another younger brother who was still an infant! Unexpectedly, the mother left her children to her husband family that was poorly living and gave them another burden.

After two months the widow's family, that was worried about the anonymous future their young daughter is waiting as she had no certificate and nothing could rely on to bear the life burden, found another man for their daughter, as she had no other choice. While the mother who was about to finish her teens preparing herself for the second marriage, her third baby died. The baby was in dire need of his mother breast, yet, it received complete ignorance and found death as more merciful!

As hearing that story and seeing the real victims, many questions and inquires popped up to my head. If that mother was educated and was given a chance to finish her education, she would not have left her children mercilessly and would have not preferred to marry repeatedly! If she were educated, she would make use of her education and find a job to live with dignity with her children!

It is out of question that getting married in early age is a common and widespread all over Yemen as you can find that in some cases girls usually and especially in rural areas get married while they are just 8 years old.

When would Yemeni parents realize the importance of girl's education? In addition, when would they understand that if they allow their daughters to continue their education, they, in this way, would ensure a good life for them and they would protect them against unexpected dilemmas?

Actually when the patents send their daughters to schools, they make a good and unforgettable favor for their daughters. A number of studies have showed that there are various reasons for the spread of early marriage phenomenon that consequently lead to female students' dropping out of schools. Poverty is blamed as one of the main causes that urge parents to force their daughters get married at early ages without consideration of the sequences of such marriages. Some parents think that education is not crucial for a girl as they traditionally think that her right place is her home where she can serve her husband and children! They do not think that one day that their daughter's husband may suddenly die and leave her alone facing the vicissitudes of life f or he may divorce her and kick her out of the house!

Early marriages and female students dropping-out of school are two major problems so related to each other

Regretfully and despite knowing regularly such tragic stories and knowing the reasons behind them, people still turn a blind eye and do not take a lesson from them but rather keep repeating the same mistakes and they continue sending their daughters to lasting agony instead of sending them to school!

Some people feel sorry when they see their daughters unhappy, widowed in their blossoming age, or divorced, but then it is too late for regret. If the parents know beforehand the horrible facts and awful results of early marriages on their daughters' life and on the society and, in turn, on the development process, they not do it.

Forcing girls to get married in early age is considered one of the violence that is still practiced against women in Yemen and lead to different aspects of violence!

Currently there is a national campaign to combat and uproot the early marriage phenomenon within the coming four years. The campaign is adopted by the Women National Committee. However, I am still wondering if this campaign will really uproot and end up the phenomenon of marrying earlier and to be honest I am looking forward to seeing all parties and bodies of the society cooperate to put an end to this tragic phenomenon!