A human rights group says a 13-year-old Yemeni girl has died of injuries to her genitals four days after a family-arranged marriage. The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and has drawn the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages. Legislation that would make it illegal has drawn opposition from some of Yemen's most influential Islamic leaders, leaving it deeply imperiled.

Une fillette yéménite de 13 ans est décédée d'une hémorragie due à une déchirure vaginale cinq jours après avoir été mariée de force, a annoncé aujourd'hui une organisation de défense des droits de l'homme à Sanaa. Le décès de l'adolescente intervient alors qu'un projet de loi fixant l'âge minimum du mariage pour les femmes à 17 ans suscite la controverse au Yémen, les organisations de femmes le soutenant alors que les islamistes et les conservateurs y sont opposés.

Dans la capitale yéménite, une foule de journalistes se bousculait le 27 mars dernier pour prendre en photo Sally al-Sabahi, 12 ans, en train de signer les papiers de son divorce. Au moment où elle a trempé son doigt dans l’encre noire et déposé son empreinte à côté de son nom sur un document officiel, Sally est devenue la quatrième épouse enfant divorcée du Yémen.

تجمعت حشود الصحفيين للحصول على صورة لسالي الصباحي، 12 عاماً، وهي توقع أوراق الطلاق في العاصمة اليمنية صنعاء في 27 مارس. وبمجرد أن غطست أصبعها في الحبر الأسود ووضعت بصمتها بجوار اسمها على وثيقة رسمية، أصبحت سالي رابع طفلة عروس تحصل على الطلاق في اليمن.

وكانت شبكة الأنباء الإنسانية (إيرين) قد نقلت قصة سالي في فبراير، مشيرة إليها باسم عائشة لحمايتها. وكانت الطفلة في العاشرة من عمرها عندما زوجتها أسرتها لرجل كبير السن في مقابل مهر بلغ 1,000 دولار. وبعد الأسبوع الأول من زواجها، بدأت سالي تحاول الهروب من المعاملة السيئة التي قالت أنها كانت تتلقاها على يد زوجها.

Throngs of journalists pushed forward to get a picture of 12-year-old Sally al-Sabahi as she signed her divorce papers in the Yemeni capital on 27 March. As she dipped her thumb in dark ink and pressed it next to her name on an official document, she became Yemen’s fourth child bride divorcee.

Some of Yemen's most influential Islamic leaders, including one the U.S. says mentored Osama bin Laden, have declared supporters of a ban on child brides to be apostates. The religious decree, issued Sunday, deeply imperils efforts to salvage legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry. The practice is widespread in Yemen and has been particularly hard to discourage in part because of the country's gripping poverty — bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars are especially difficult for poor families to pass up.

It was every little girl’s dream - she was to get a new dress, jewellery, sweets and a party for all her friends. What 10-year-old Aisha* did not know was that after the wedding party she would have to leave school, move to a village far from her parents’ home, cook and clean all day, and have sex with her older husband. “He took out a special sheet and laid me down on it,” Aisha told IRIN, wringing her small plump hands. “After it, I started bleeding. It was so painful that I was crying and shouting, and since then I have seen him as death.”

Nearly a decade after a ban on health workers performing female genital mutilation/cutting (FGM/C) in Yemen, the harmful practice continues unabated, with the government saying more research is needed before an outright ban can be imposed. “Nine years after the ban we see that it works the opposite of what was intended,” said Wafa Ahmad Ali, a leader of the Sanaa-based Yemen Women’s Union (YWU). “Now instead of going to the hospital where the tools are at least clean, FGM is carried out at home.” The Ministry of Human Rights supports a new study on the practice. “If the study proves that the practice is still being carried out, we will push for a new law,” Huda Ali Abdullatef Alban, minister of human rights, told IRIN. “We hope this new law can be in place within the next four years,” he said .

Although women are the most vulnerable to extremists in Yemen, their voices are the least likely to be heard and their role in fighting terrorism is restricted by social and legal status, say human rights activists. On Thursday, Sisters Against Violent Extremism (SAVE Yemen) brought together a group of women representing human rights groups, academic institutions, the press, and university students to discuss how Yemeni women can be involved in the fight against extremism and terrorism.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Republic of Yemen. The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of numerous acts of harassment against the Sister's Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) and its Chairperson, Ms. Amal Basha.

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