“By getting men to reject the practice that subordinate women and girls and subject them to violence, we can get to the root of child marriage”

Wanjala Wafula, The Coexist Initiative

Samira is 11 years old, with big brown lovely eyes  of one innocent child.She is so sweet and caring and she cant stop smiling. Her mother is helping her to dress best clothes because soon is the  celebration. The young girl is excited because she cant imagine that soon will not play with her toys but with older men or, if she has some crazy luck, with the boy of her age, in bed. Samira is one of 15 million girls who are married every year, before age of 18. One of many girls whose childhood is replaced with instant marriage’s life  wrapped into colorful clothes and jewelry, given to child’s heart to forget the pain which will come soon.

The story about the child marriages is something what follows the history of many backward societies.It is not only connected with Muslim communities but also with Hindu and the India, with the second-highest level of child marriages, according to official data from UN, is a typical example of country which is fighting to eradicate this shameful tradition through the strict laws and education of parents and children, especially in rural areas, which are still under local tribal rules. This shameful tradition hits also many parts of  the Middle East region,  West Asia, Africa,Latin America and Oceania.

The child marriage should be considered as a formal marriage or often an informal union entered by any person younger than 18. The legal approval for young people to get into marriage starts with being 18 years old but in many countries, parental decisions are above any law and they are taken as valid. This kind of marriages affects not only young girls but also young boys. Sometimes, parents of both sides decide for their children the marriage and children are never asked for permission and even if they did, their words aren’t important. In the case of potential teenage’s pregnancy, this marriage is a cover for family dishonor. Unfortunately, many societies don’t need pregnancy as a reason for those primitive heritage, all they need is an ironic  excuse to protect so called girl’s safety and boy’s future. In many situations, child marriage is an union between young female, below 18 (mostly between 8 and 15 years old) and older man. The age difference between marriage partners is inappropriate and this act is a  violent crime against children rights. It is not only against children rights but also it is a violation of human rights and abuse “female flesh” as a source of money for parents. They trade with their children’s destinies, following so called ” tradition”  but it is nothing but demonic  approach to the most fragile elements of any society, children. It is a result of system which is not developed and the people who are not educated. The lack of good economical conditions as well as the absence of real education is a base for this kind of phenomena, what I consider as a cancer of our world.

Every country which is dealing with the child marriages has its own folklore of promoting it, valuing it or simply covering it by plastic traditional explanations or delusional religious phrases. The truth is the next: the child marriage has nothing to do with God but with people who are so far away from God. Primitive rules should have been buried in the past. New times demand adjustments, not regressing but progressing.  Many countries will defeat this disgraceful custom  sometimes….some countries will never find a way out….without paying for it,  by blood. Someone’s. Children’s blood.


Personally, I think that the case of Yemen is the most shocking. I am not referring here that others aren’t but as far as I am informed, in Yemen there are so many  female children who suffer by being consumed in that form of marriage. They are not only suffering, they are dying every day because of many reasons and almost none is talking about it or even if does, it is always hidden among many other terrible news, never headlined. It is stated that Yemeni’s practice of marrying young girls worries the international human rights activists but the real situation is even worse. The big battle is over there, not only on the ground therefor the current security and political challenge turned Yemen into chaotic place, but also in the society where tribal rules try to overcome the legal rules. The same is about the girls. After so many information that so many young just married  girls were taken into the hospitals due to very dangerous  internal genital injuries, the law parts of Yemeni divided community started reconsidering the legal age for marriage union. The attempts to be set up by age of 17 were rejected after the tribal clerics repealed and sent this decision back to the parliament and threaten to possible ban-child-marriage-activists to apostate them. We all know that the highest religious authority is alpha and omega of this Muslim society so those kind of inter structural changes aren’t easy and welcomed by majority of backwards believers. Without prosperity and stuck in the ancient belief that young girl could be easier shaped to be a good wife, Yemeni male grounded  society doesn’t accept any switch. The story of so many young brides, age 12  who are given to 20 years older grooms  are the inspiration for western media to make heartbreaking reportage but it is ended up with readers’s bizarre feedback and the destiny of Yemeni’s then happy children now  early made women  stays in the cracks of our civilization.  The experts warn that female children who are married before age of 15 have 5 times more chances to die on childbirth than older females. They are also innocent and without any real experiences and they are a potential victims of domestic violence, not only committed by their husbands but also by their family in law. Rawan,  was an 8 years old Yemeni  girl who was sold by her parents to 40 years old man, who raped her repeatedly to death. She died from internal injuries and bleeding. This man, her so called husband, wasn’t punished and her family wasn’t punished either. Only in Yemen. Noora Al Shami, one of the secret army of destroyed young Yemeni girls, also narrated  to the Guardian her story. She was sold  at age of 11 to the distant relative for $150 :“After succumbing to Al Ahdam’s advances for the first time, Noora’s body went into shock. ‘I was rushed to hospital – I was a child being treated as a sex object, but the abuse did not stop. Nobody was interested in my complaints, as I was legally a wife.’There were two miscarriages within a year, before Noora gave birth to a son called Ihab when she was 13. A daughter, Ahlam, followed when Noora was 14, and then Shihab, another son, when she was 15. All of the pregnancies were problematic.Al Ahdam became increasingly violent. ‘He thought nothing of hitting me, even when I was pregnant,’said Noora. ‘If his father hadn’t been in the house, it would have been even worse. His presence was some kind of restraint, but I was still very badly injured.’ The children suffered too. When Ahlam was two, Al Ahdam grabbed her by the feet and banged her on the floor. The child was taken to hospital bleeding.”This courageous woman didnt want to accept to be a victim for a whole life and after many years of domestic violence against her and her children, she joined to the Yemeni Women’s Union and to the project Oxfam,which helped her to get divorce and start independent life, educating herself for a teacher and fighting for her and future of her children but also for the future of many potential child brides. Those women will be the light for darkness of Yemen, which is burning into civil wars and poverty with no ends.


Sadly, what about the interpretation of religion what allows this shameful tradition? It is a fact that Islam doesn’t prohibit the child marriage  because it allows the father to make decision for his young son or young daughter to be married before they reached puberty:

Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

The scholars are unanimously agreed that the father may arrange a marriage for his young daughter without consulting her. The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) married ‘Aa’ishah when she was six years old.

End quote from at-Tamheed, 19/98 “

 Now we will see another explanations but we should have in mind that Islamic theologians argue among themselves what is real and what is fake:

 An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) said: 

It should be noted that ash-Shaafa‘i and his companions said: It is recommended for the father or grandfather not to arrange a marriage for a virgin until she reaches the age of puberty and he seeks her consent, lest she find herself trapped in a marriage that she resents. What they said is not contrary to the hadeeth of ‘Aa’ishah, because what they meant is that he should not give her in marriage before puberty if there is no clear and real interest to be served by that for which there is the fear that it will be missed by delaying marriage, such as the story of ‘Aa’ishah. In that case (i.e., if there is a clear and real interest to be served) it is recommended not to miss the opportunity to marry that husband, because the father is enjoined to take care of his children’s interests, not to neglect them. 

End quote from Sharh Muslim, 9/206 “

 Ibn Shubrumah said that:“It is not permissible to arrange a marriage for a young girl who has not reached the age of puberty, because if we say that that is subject to her consent, her consent does not count (because she is too young to make such decisions), and when she does reach the age of puberty we believe that she should not be forced into a marriage.”


So many similar but also different thoughts which are helping the Muslims to keep this disgraceful tradition and to never really eliminate it. In their religious worlds, child marriage is usually  compared with Prophet Mohammed practice. The Prophet Mohammed lived in ancient and barbaric age and many customs were more than brutal and violent according to out modern times but considering those rules as something which is allowed by God is a sign of ignorance, backwards social structure and degenerated generations.

The dark case of Yemen is not the only one. The child brides are around the globe. They are dreaming of lost childhood while they are waiting for their own children.Calling any God wont help them to defeat themselves from aggressive old husband. We can help them. We can be their voices and their strength to punish those societies and to eradicate this primitive practice. They are only children. They are children like ours.

This is a story of broken hearts, destroyed souls and body in pains. Yemen.  Untold.



  1. Thank you so much, Sarah, for bringing such a dark topic to light ! Thank you for, in so
    doing, helping those poor little girls !

    What a shame that those men can live with themselves after committing such heinous crimes against those poor, innocent, and defenseless little girls who know nothing yet about the world except how to play with toys and kids their own age in the most innocent way ! In essence, this is a crime against humanity !

    In modern society, all over the world, not just in the West, “rape” is defined as sex without consent and that’s exactly, and sadly, the case in those child-bride marriages ! This has to be eradicated from Yemen and from all other countries where this barbaric and primitive practice is still allowed !

    The eradication of such practice can be more easily implemented once harsh laws are enacted and promulgated in order to punish the perpetrators. This would
    act as a punishment for current perpetrators, and as a deterrent for any potential perpetrators !

    Further, the International Community has to be involved, and has to come to the aid of those poor and helpless little girls by imposing severe sanctions on the counties that still allow and facilitate such atrocities!

    This is appalling and that’s an understatement !

    Thank you again, Sarah, for your detailed research and for taking the lid off this horrific practice !


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