Culture And Media

Yemen: New law moves to reduce child marriages

Sanaa, 12 Feb. (AKI) - A new law passed in Yemen gives women greater legal protection, in relation to marriage and motherhood. The law raises the minimum age for marriage to 17, and provides for the right to alimony and recognition of the mother as the sole guardian of her children.

Despite penalties for anyone who violates the law, it appears that it will allow some girls under the age of 17 to be married if a judge rules the marriage is "in the best interest of the child".

A Yemeni Islamist deputy said restrictions outlined under the new law were not consistent with Islamic Sharia law.

"It is not possible to clearly define the minimum age for marriage, because it all depends on the level of maturity of the spouse, from a physical and mental point of view," said Zayd al-Shami, quoted by pan-Arab daily al-Quds al Arabi.

"To define marriage age in such a specific manner is in clear contrast to Islamic Sharia law."

According to the English-language Yemen Times, the parliament also passed an amendment concerning women and children in two laws.

The amendments include facilitating pre-marital medical checks to determine genetic faults, dangerous diseases or health risks, as well as restricting polygamy to the husband's ability to support more than one family.

"Fairness is included in all aspects, such as time spent with each wife, housing and logistics," said the Yemen Times.

"The first wife also has to be legally notified of his intention of marrying another to allow them to make future decisions."

Other amendments included a women’s right to alimony for her children once a divorce has taken place and the custody of children to be exclusively granted to the mother for the first twelve years of the children’s life.

The new amendments also recognise the mother as the sole guardian of orphaned children, providing that is approved by a judge.

Over half the women who marry in Yemen are under 15 years of age, according to a report last year carried out by Yemen's Women and Development Study Centre.

According to the statistics 52 percent of young girls are married as children in Yemen, compared to less than seven percent of boys. In rural areas of Yemen, girls are usually married when they are 12 or 13 years old.

Yemen is one of the poorest countries in the world.




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