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Child Marriages: A Human Rights Issue

3577 words - 14 pages

Most of the world knows the Muslim Middle East as a place for coveting oil, having a captivating culture and spicy cuisine. Yet the Middle East is also a place with a history filled with continuous civil wars, poverty, and social and political turbulence. In these strange lands it is often unclear who really makes the laws, a place where more children can be found begging on the street then in school. The fate of young village girls rest in the hands of tribal chiefs, within the home older brothers and fathers are the law.
In the Middle Eastern Countryside women are not taught to make choices. At their age they do not ask questions. All children are delivered at home, their mothers’ laying on a woven mat swearing suffering, terribly begging God to protect their newborns. These children won’t be found in any official registers, nor will they ever posses any identification cards. Age is therefore determined by seasons, deaths, marriages, and moves. Within the household the power of decision goes to man of the house.
The best way to understand the life of young girl in these desolate countries is by stepping in their shoes. In 2008, such a young girl welcomed the world into her home, culture and personal struggles when she became the first woman to get a divorce in Yemen. She was nine years old. In Nujood Ali and Delphine Minoui’s book, I am Nujood, age 10 and Divorced. Nujood describes her trials, “I’m a simple village girl whose family had to move to the capital, and I have always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything”(Ali, 18). Girls often considered to fragile and vulnerable to venture out of the home depend and rely on the men to protect and raise them. Mothers and fathers often don’t know how to read or write. Therefore they see no need for their girls to learn.
Similar to Nujood many girls are married off by their fathers before the legal age of 15. “According to Yemeni law, it is difficult for you to file a complaint against your husband and your father”(Ali, 81). Since children are born without identification documents, marriage is a contract signed and unanimously approved by the men in the family. The marriage of young girls is traced to an Ancient Tradition. Upon asking her mother, “Whatever did I do to deserve this?”(Ali, 91), And why she was being married off and later beaten, and raped by her new husband her mother responded, “That’s how life is, Nujood: all woman must endure this; we have all gone through the same thing”(Ali, 96). The problem with the concept of child marriages is that it steams from a seemly pure and honest source. In these villages “There is even a tribal proverb that says, ‘to guarantee a happy marriage, marry a nine-year-old girl”(Ali, 75). With ancient proverbs saying to marry young woman, there really is no room for debate. Upon Nujood’s mother asking her father his response was, “Too young? When the prophet Mohammed wed Aisha, she was only nine...

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