09/16/2013 12:19 pm ET Updated Sep 17, 2013

Yemen Child Marriage Law: Human Rights Minister Wants To Set Minimum Age At 18

Following reports that an 8-year-old girl in Yemen was killed after having intercourse with her 40-year-old husband, the nation's human rights minister is looking to pass a law banning child marriage.

Hooria Mashhoor asked Yemen's parliament to pass a law outlawing the practice, BBC reported. She aims to resurrect a four-year-old bill that would make it illegal for children under age 17 to get married. Mashhoor wants to raise the age to 18 and finally push the law through the legislature, where it has sat since 2009, according to Al Jazeera.

While Mashhoor told CNN the initiative is not only about the case of the 8-year-old, it seems clear that the recent story (which went viral online) is what spurred the latest push to outlaw the tradition.

The girl, identified as Rawan, reportedly died earlier this month of "vaginal tearing" in the northwestern town of Haradh, near the Saudi Arabian border. Her death is said to have happened on her wedding night. However, both local officials and Rawan's father have said the reports are the product of rumors run amok.

In order to get to the bottom of things, Yemen's government says it will conduct an investigation. Aides to Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Basindawa said they would examine any wrongdoing and prosecute those who may be responsible, Reuters reported on Friday.

The government may be reacting to international pressure after the story was picked up by news outlets on several continents. The Foreign Policy Chief of the European Union, Catherine Ashton, put out a statement Friday, calling on Yemen's government to set a minimum age for marriage, "in line with international norms."

But because the story is shrouded in mystery, and since child brides are common in parts of Yemen where poverty pushes families to marry off their daughters at young ages, it's unclear if the nation's congress will pass the law.



Child Brides