|05SANAA589||2005-03-15 08:38:00||UNCLASSIFIED||Embassy Sanaa|
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SANAA 000589
1. This message is in response to reftel questions on child
marriage in Yemen, see para. 4.
2. The legal age of marriage in Yemen is 15. UNICEF
estimates that approximately 41 percent of Yemeni children
under the age of 15 are married. According the USAID-funded
Development and Health Survey (DHS), 64 percent of Yemeni
girls under the age of 18 are married, making Yemen fourth in
the world for the highest incidence of girls married under 18
years of age. In order to respond to reftel questions,
EmbOffs met with UNICEF, OXFAM, local women's NGOs, and the
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MLSA).
3. DCM met with Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Abd
al-Karim al-Arhabi on March 8, who also serves as the
Director of the Yemen Social Fund for Development (SFD), to
discuss the problem of child marriage. The Minister reported
that both child marriage and violence against women are
significant social problems in Yemen. Child marriage, said
Arhabi, is socially accepted in Yemen and contributes to low
levels of women's education, increased poverty, and health
risks. According to Arhabi the ROYG has not yet embarked on
public awareness campaigns on the negative effects of child
marriage because the issue is too sensitive in Yemen's
traditional culture. The Minister indicated, however, that
if the U.S. funded an NGO to tackle the issue in Yemen, he
would support the effort.
4. Below is Post response to reftel questions:
A1. The legal age of marriage in Yemen is 15 for both girls
and boys. This law, however, is not enforced and child
marriage, particularly in rural areas, is common place.
Girls routinely marry upon puberty, around 12 years of age,
and boys tend to marry between the ages of 15-18.
A2. There are no statistics available on the rate of child
marriages in Yemen for boys or girls. Girls commonly marry
at the age of 12, and boys tend to be roughly three years
older than their brides.
A3. Since the law requiring children to be 15 in order to
marry is not enforced, there is no mechanism whereby children
under the age of 15 may marry with parental consent. A male
relative of the bride may, however, sign the marriage
certificate without the brides consent.
B1. Post believes underage marriage (i.e. younger than 15)
is a significant problem in Yemen. Exact data is difficult
to obtain. According to UNICEF estimates, 41 percent of
children under the age of 15 are married.
B2. Yemen has a poor heath care system and relies heavily on
the assistance of donor nations. This is especially true in
rural and remote areas where child marriage is the norm.
There are no statistics available on the negative health
consequences of early marriage for Yemeni girls. It is
likely, however, that given the poor or non-existent access
of many Yemeni girls to modern health care, that health
complications associated with early marriage are exacerbated
C1. Currently there are no U.S.-funded initiatives in Yemen
that aim to reduce the incidence or address the negative
effects of child marriage.
C2. A public awareness campaign and health care assistance
programs seem obvious first steps to reduce the incidence and
address the negative affects of child marriage in Yemen.
Post requires more time to thoroughly investigate this issue
before recommending specific programs or NGO partners. Post
would need to enter into a dialogue with Ministries of Health
and Education regarding this issue.
C3. USAID has existing programs in Yemen that provide basic
education and training on women's health issues. These
programs have not addressed the issue of early marriage due
to cultural taboos and political sensitivities, but it is
possible that efforts to address to problem of early marriage
could be incorporated.
5. Embassy Sanaa POC is Jules Kim Johnson, Economic and
Commercial Officer, phone number: 967-1-755-2252, email: