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.
Fatima was married at 12 to a man in his late twenties. She lived in the same house with her husband’s mother, brothers, and sister.
I slept with my husband, but I don’t take birth control pills. I don’t know what they are.
I used to argue with my mother-in-law because she says I can’t do anything. He [her husband] hit me once with his hand on the left side of my face and on the right side of my face and ruptured my ear. He used to hit me all over my body, he used to kick me with his feet and call me all sorts of names. I used to remain silent, but would complain to my mother. She would tell me to remain tolerant, all girls go through the same, this is nothing new. Since he hit me, I want to divorce him.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”: Child Marriage in Yemen