The Death of Rawan – An Eight-Year Old Yemeni Bride


It has been my custom since the beginning of the “Arab Spring,” to visit the Arabic-language division of the British Broadcasting Corporation, for the latest news coming from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and neighboring countries. Once in a while, an item appears which deals with a social issue, such as the tragic condition of women in the Middle East.

On Saturday, the 14th of September, I was horrified to read the news of the death of a little girl given to marriage in Yemen to an older man. I couldn’t believe that there were such beastly human beings who desire to consummate a marriage with an eight-year old poor little girl! How could a human being imagine that a little innocent girl; who was still playing with her dolls, had reached marriageable age? And then, to think of parents willing to “sell” their daughters into such slavery, is beyond belief! But here is an account of a human tragedy that was reported on BBC-Arabic Television. I have no doubt about its accuracy, and thus I share it with the FFI readership, with the hope that there will result an outcry against the persistence of a type of slavery that should not be tolerated anywhere in our globalized world. The following is a summary of the account of “The Death of Rawan: an Eight-Year Old Yemeni Bride.”

A Poster in Arabic used in the Campaign to Outlaw Marriage of young girls in Yemen:

Such marriages rob girls for their young days, their happiness, as well as their live

Several attempts by Civil Organizations to stop early marriages in Yemen have not yet resulted in passing laws forbidding this tradition. This is the story of the tragic death of Rawan, an eight-year old Yemeni girl on the second night of her wedding, according to local news media

“Raqia Hamidan, an attorney and human rights activist related to the BBC that “the little girl died the second night after the “Dakhla[i] The death occurred due to a severe hemorrhage caused by a tear in the vagina. Rawan was eight years old at the time of her death.”

Raqia added, “Every time a change is made in the Yemeni laws governing marriage, the plight of women worsens. Poverty plays a big role in a tradition of parents giving their very young daughters into marriage. When an offer of the equivalent of US$500.00 is made to a father for “selling” his little daughter to a husband who is forty years older, he doesn’t hesitate to accept the deal! Should a young bride die as a result of her father’s action, no criminal charges ensue.”

[i] “Dakhla” an Arabic term that means literally: “Entrance.” It refers to the night when a groom “enters” the bride’s room in order to consummate his marriage.

Jacob Thomas

Consultant on Middle Eastern affair/ Columnist

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