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Yemen probes 8-year-old child bride’s death

AFP-JIJI

Yemen is investigating the reported death of an 8-year-old girl from injuries suffered on the first night of her marriage to a man in his 40s.

The government has formed a committee “to verify the reports about the death of the girl, named Rawan, after being married to an older man,” government spokesman Rajeh Badi said Friday. “The crime is not confirmed yet. The team’s job is to verify whether this crime took place or not.”

But rights activist Ahmed al-Quraishi, chairman of child rights’ organization Siyaj, said activists who went to the northwestern province of Hajjah had collected information that practically confirms the case.

“We in Siyaj are nearly sure of the girl’s death, and that authorities are trying to cover up the issue,” al-Quraishi said.

He said locals in the town of Meedi told activists that they saw the girl some three weeks ago carrying a mobile phone, and saying that she was to wed to a man in his 40s. Residents also said that she disappeared shortly afterward, as did her family.

Some locals said the girl was married to the man who took her to a hotel, and that she died on the first night from bleeding caused by sexual intercourse.

Activists also discovered that Rawan’s father has another daughter, age 10, who is also married.

Human Rights Watch said Wednesday that 14 percent of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 15, and 52 percent are married before 18.