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Statement by Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, on the death of 12-year-old Yemeni girl, three days after her marriage

AMMAN, 7 April 2010 – “UNICEF is dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen.

“The death of Elham Mahdi al-Assi from internal bleeding following intercourse, three days after she was married off to a man at least twice her age, is a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon.

“Early marriage places girls at increased risk of dropping out of school, being exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, and even losing their lives from pregnancy, childbirth and other complications. 

"One out of three girls in Yemen is married before she turns 18.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognizes the right to free and full consent to marriage. But when either party to a marriage is too young to make an informed decision, such consent is neither free nor full.   

“Laws setting a reasonable minimum age for marriage need to be passed and implemented as a first step in the fight against this harmful practice.”


For further information, please contact:
Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, UNICEF Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa,
Tel + 962-79-700-4567, arghandour@unicef.org




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