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Press centre


Statement by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman on the death of 12-year-old child bride from Yemen

NEW YORK, 14 September 2009 - "It was with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of 12-year-old Fawziya Youssef from Yemen.  Fawziya was forced into a child marriage with a man at least twice her age. She became pregnant and she and her baby both died after struggling for three days in protracted labor, according to media reports. 

“Child marriages violate the rights of children in the most deplorable way.  The younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risks for her and her baby.  Girls who give birth before the age of 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.

“Child marriage denies girls of their childhood, deprives them of an education and robs them of their innocence.

“Tragedies like these underscore the urgent need to better protect the rights of women and children, particularly girls.  Child marriages are often a result of poverty and ignorance. More must be done to address the underlying causes in order to prevent tragic deaths like those of 12-year-old Fawziya and her baby.”  

For additional information, please contact:
Christopher de Bono, UNICEF NY,
Tel + 1 212 303 7984; 
E-mail: cdebono@unicef.org

Rebecca Fordham, UNICEF NY,
Tel + 1 212 326-7162;
E-mail: rfordham@unicef.org




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