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Arwa A.

2010 (Narrative date)

There are an estimated 85,000 people living in modern slavery in Yemen (GSI 2018). Young girls are subjected to child forced marriage, with UNICEF estimating 32% of girls being married before the age of 18. There is currently no legal age of marriage in Yemen and poverty, the practice of dowry and strict social and religious customs are drivers of child marriage in the country. With the onset of conflict within the country, estimates suggest that child marriage is on the rise.

Arwa was able to finish elementary school, but her family did not allow her to go to secondary school, Instead, she cared for her younger siblings. Arwa was forced to get married at 15 years old.

I used to like going to school… I was sad when my mother forced me to leave. I wanted to be a doctor.

I didn’t want to get married because I loved someone else.

Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”: Child Marriage in Yemen