And another disturbing report from the "old world" hits my TV screen and fills me with anger. I must stop watching documentaries, or TV in general - it's bad for my blood pressure. This time the bad news comes from the Yemen, a country in the Arabian Peninsula.
The documentary in question was made by CNN to highlight the plight of child brides – sadly still an everyday occurrence in some countries.
Reem al Numeri is a 14-year-old divorcee. Yes, you read it right. She was just 11 when her father forced her to marry her 32-year-old cousin. Reem used to lock herself in her room at night to keep her “husband” away, but he eventually managed to break in and rape her. After attempting suicide by cutting her wrists, the so called “husband” decided to divorce her.
Reem - victim by the age of 11 - outcast by 14
Reem now lives the life of an outcast, through no fault of her own, a victim of the cruel society she was born into. Without a husband or family to support her, she can’t even attend school.
(My blood pressure is rising again just thinking about it)
In 2009, Yemen's parliament passed legislation to rise the minimum age of marriage to 17. Sadly,
Conservative “Koran-led” parliamentarians and more than a 100 leading religious clerics, called the attempt to restrict the age of marriage "un-Islamic" and argued the bill violated Sharia law, which does not stipulate a minimum age of marriage.
What the fuck is all that about? How ridiculous an argument! Does that mean 8,6,4,2-year-olds can also be forced into marrying older men?
(I'm really pissed off now)
When will the blind and ignorant followers of religion start thinking for themselves? When will they start questioning their pathetic archaic laws and miserable existences?
Anyway, the bill to outlaw child marriages got blocked and so the practice continues for now. Yemen's parliament will look again at child marriage in the coming days, so fingers crossed, but don’t hold your breath!
Mohammed Aboulahoum, advisor to Yemen's president, wants the law to be passed, but thinks there are more important issues to deal with first. (!) He would wouldn’t he? Even after conceding that if he (Aboulahoum) was to ask most religious people if they would you let their daughter marry at the age of 12 or 13, they would most likely say no!
The human rights organization “Sisters Arab Forum” tries in vain to intervene on behalf of child brides - to stop the marriages from taking place - but without legislation they are fighting a losing battle.
The people of Yemen need to pull their heads out of the sand and try to understand the horrors of child abuse. They need to change their society's views on women, now, not in years to come but now. Never mind Sharia Law, (which most lay people don’t even fully understand). Wrong and unjust laws have to be changed, never mind the cultural or religious implications. That’s what civilized societies do and have done for centuries. To not evolve is to stagnate and eventually perish, just like the dinosaurs…