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.
Fathiya was forced to marry at 12 years old. Now at 30, she has seven children and suffers with her health due to her early marriage and motherhood.
I was 12 years old when I got married. I was a child. They oppressed me by marrying me. All that I’m good for is to be a mother and a home maker.... I’m illiterate. They didn’t teach us anything. If they did, at least I would have benefitted from something. I didn’t know anything about marriage, how to be a mother...I wasn’t thinking about anything. I get upset at myself. I get upset at my father. I get upset from my husband. I have constant headaches and I don’t feel like even speaking. I feel like someone is choking me. There’s so much heaviness on my chest.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”: Child Marriage in Yemen