CNN has reported that a 12-year-old Yemeni child bride died of internal bleeding following intercourse three days after she was married off to an older man. Word of her death came from the United Nations Children's Fund.
The UNICEF regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, Sigrid Kaag, told reporters that the 12-year old was married to a man at least twice her age, and added that the senseless death was "a painful reminder of the risks girls face when they are married too soon."
The Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights, a Yemeni human rights group, identified the 12-year old Yemeni child bride Friday as Elham Mahdi.
The young girl's death is the latest in a series of child bride marriage cases in Yemen. The minimum age for marriage is still under debate.
Sadly, this 12-year old Yemeni child bride isn't the first to die this way. In September, a another 12-year-old Yemeni girl forced into marriage died during childbirth. Her baby died as well.
Child brides are not ucommon in Yemen. The United Nations estimates that one in three girls are married before age 18. Most are married off to older men who have multiple wives.
For a child bride's parents, such a marriage means the daughters are no longer a financial or moral burden on the families. Sometimes parents get a promise from the husband to wait until the girl is older to consummate the marriage, but the husband rarely honors the deal.
Another publicized case of a Yemeni child bride made headlines in 2008 when 10-year-old Nujood Ali was pulled out of school and married. Her husband beat and raped her shortly thereafter.
How can we help young girls like Elham Mahdi? Is there anything we can do as American parents to alleviate the torture these child brides are facing? Donations to UNICEF can help. They are working with government officials to educate and hopefully eradicate these heinous forced marriages.