An eight-year-old Yemeni bride had died of internal bleeding after her wedding night intercourse with 40-year-old husband, Reuters reported Wednesday.
A social activist and two local residents said the case involving an eight-year-old girl who got married to a man five times her age led to an outcry in the media and revived the clash of opinions about the controversial child brides practice.
Head of Yemen House of Folklore and a Leading Rights Campaigner Arwa Othman said the child bride, identified as Rawan, got married to a 40-year-old man late last week in the town of Meedi situated in Hajjah province in northwestern Yemen.
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"On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death," Othman said. "They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn't save her life."
Othman added that the authorities did not take any legal action against the girl's husband or her family.
Meanwhile, a local security official in the town of Haradh denounced Othman's claim, saying that no such incident had taken place. The official did not give his identity to the press since according to him, he is not authorized to speak of such matters.
However, two Meedi residents confirmed the incident to Reuters, adding that the local tribe chiefs had covered up the incident after news about it broke out. The concerned residents even shared that a local journalist, who was about to cover the story, was reprimanded by the chiefs.
According to Reuters, many poor families in Yemen allow their little girls to be married in order for them to earn some money from the dowry their daughters are to receive from their husbands.
A U.N. report in January stated the extent of poverty in Yemen, noting that 10.5 million out of the 24 million population lack sufficient food supplies and that 13 million had no access to safe water and basic sanitation.
Human Rights Watch encouraged the national government in December 2011 to ban the practice of young bride marriage, or girls who get married even before they reach the age of 18, saying that this deprives little girls of their right to education and health.
HRW said nearly 14 percent of Yemeni girls are married before they reach the age of 15 while 52 percent become brides even before they turn 18.