Newsflash: 12-yr-old Bride Dies from Post-Coital Bleeding

CNN reports that a 12-year-old Yemeni girl died of injuries to her genitals a few days after her arranged marriage to a much older man. The story comes via the United Nations Children’s Fund and the Sisters’ Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF), a women’s advocacy group in the region that denounces child marriage. The child, identified by a member of the SAF as Elham Mahdi, is just the latest Yemeni child-bride to make headlines, following the death of a 12-year-old during childbirth last year and the highly-publicized, self-sought divorce of a 10-year-old girl before that.

Yemen is certainly not the only country in the world with a high rate of child marriage, but it has been at the forefront of debate around the practice, in part because the custom is so hotly contested even within its own borders. Last year a law was passed (but later repealed) that set the minimum marriage age at 17. More recently, another proposed ban on child marriage has divided Yemeni women–some marching in protest, others marching in support.

Image of Sanaa, Yemen courtesy of flickr user mcmay under Creative Commons License.


Catherine is an assistant features editor at Hyphen magazine and a first year student at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She interned at Ms. in the spring of 2010, and has since reported on the gendered impact of immigration enforcement in Arizona, the rights of health care workers in the Philippines and indigenous women's struggle against Big Oil in Canada. She has a B.A. in English and a minor in Women & Gender Studies from Arizona State University.