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Child bride, 13, dies of internal injuries four days after arranged marriage in Yemen Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


A fully veiled woman walks past the heavily guarded office of the Yemeni prime minister in Sanaa on January 7, 2010. US military intervention in Yemen to help fight Al-Qaeda militants could backfire and strengthen the network, Yemen's deputy prime minister for defence and security affairs, Rashed Al-Aleemi said in a press conference. Long-standing concerns that Yemen, a country on the southern tip of the Arabian peninsula, has become a haven for Islamic terror groups were thrown into sharp focus when a Nigerian man allegedly trained in Yemen was charged with trying to blow up a US-bound jet last month.   AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI (Photo credit should read AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images)

A 13-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal injuries four days after a family-arranged marriage to a man almost twice her age, a human rights group said.

Ilham Mahdi al Assi died last Friday in a hospital in Yemen’s Hajja province, the Shaqaeq Arab Forum for Human Rights said, quoting a medical report.

She was married the previous Monday in a traditional arrangement known as a ‘swap marriage’, in which the brother of the bride also married the sister of the groom, it said.

Sigrid Kaag, regional director for UNICEF, said in a statement that the United Nations child agency was ‘dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen’.

‘Elham is a martyr of abuse of children’s lives in Yemen and a clear example of what is justified by the lack of limits on the age of marriage,’ SAF said in a statement.

A medical report from al-Thawra hospital said she suffered a tear to her genitals and severe bleeding.

The Yemeni rights group said the girl was married off in an agreement between two men to marry each other’s sisters to avoid having to pay expensive bride-prices.

The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and drew the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.

Legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry is in serious peril after strong opposition from some of Yemen’s most influential Islamic leaders.

The group said that was a common arrangement in the deeply impoverished country.

Yemen’s gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars for their daughters.

More than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before age 15, according to a report last year by the Social Affairs Ministry.

Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

Last month, a group of the country’s highest Islamic authorities declared those supporting a ban on child marriages to be apostates.

A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament’s constitutional


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