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.
Afrah was 16 years old when she was forced to leave school and get married.
My mother-in-law gives us problems. From the first day, there were problems. She says that I took her son away from her. His mother chose me ... and now she doesn’t want me anymore. She wants us to divorce. I’m three months pregnant. I don’t know if they [my husband and in-laws] will take him [the baby] from me.... His mother encouraged him to leave me and to marry again. He’s fine with it. It’s normal for him because he’s young and has a lot of time. He doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. They want us to get a divorce and I don’t know how I will live later with my baby.
I completed the first year of intermediate school, and I left to get married. I wanted to continue school, so I wanted to get engaged for three years. But I was only engaged for eight months and my father insisted that I get married. I wanted to go to college, to become a lawyer, but there’s no chance now because I’m going to have a baby.
Narrative provided by Human Rights Watch in their report “How Come You Allow Little Girls to Get Married?”: Child Marriage in Yemen