It's not clear to what degree Yemeni officials are truly outraged over this and to what degree they are only outraged because of the international attention they are getting. Even if they were genuinely outraged, though, how easy would it be for them to change the religious culture of the people in their nation? A third of all girls in Yemen are married before they are 18 and most of them are married off to men who already have multiple wives. The parents are no help because they are happy to be rid of girls in a religious culture where females just aren't valued -- except perhaps for child-bearing and sex.
Her death is "a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon," [Sigrid Kaag, UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa] said Thursday.
Amal Basha, chairwoman of the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, a Yemeni human rights group, identified the girl Friday as Elham Mahdi.
"Elham was married on March 29th and died three days later" and lived in Yemen's Hajjah province, Basha said.
You may remember that this isn't the first horrible story of child brides to come out of Yemen over the past couple of years:
In September, a 12-year-old Yemeni girl forced into marriage died during childbirth. Her baby also died, according to the Seyaj Organization for the Protection of Children.
Fawziya Ammodi was in labor for three days before she died of severe bleeding, said Ahmed al-Qureshi, president of the organization.
Keep in mind that these are only the stories we are hearing about. In a nation with so many child brides, we have to assume that there are many, many more tragedies that we simply don't learn about because the young victims of rape, abuse, and even murder aren't lucky enough to have someone tell the world about their suffering.
How long do you think this practice would last if Islam explicitly and unambiguously condemned it? It might not disappear entirely if it were already embedded in the culture, but you can bet that it would decline dramatically and a lot of lives would be saved. Just how likely is it that Islam will ever be able to take such a stand, though, when everyone knows that Muhammed married and had sex with a girl just as young? Muhammad is supposed to have lived an exemplarily life -- a life that all Muslims should strive to emulate if they can. Well, the men of Yemen are doing just that by having multiple wives and at least one child bride.