Sana’a, Yemen (CNN) – UNICEF expressed its condolences over the death of the twelve-year-old Yemeni girl during childbirth, a year after her marriage to a twenty-four-year-old man. The organization reiterates its belief that forced child marriage is a deplorable violation of children’s rights. 

“It is with great sadness that we learned of the untimely death of 12-year-old Fawziya Youssef from Yemen,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman.

Noting that Ms. Youssef was forced into a marriage with a man at least twice her age, Ms. Veneman said that child marriages violate the rights of children in the most deplorable way.

“The younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risks for her and her baby,” she said, adding that girls who give birth before age 15 are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s.

Ms. Veneman said that child marriages are often a result of poverty and ignorance, robbing girls of their education and innocence.

“More must be done to address the underlying causes to prevent tragic deaths like those of 12-year-old Fawziya and her baby.”

Seyaj confirmed, through its volunteers, in Al-Hodeidah Governorate, on the Red Sea, that Fawzia died after days of difficult labor, as she was transferred to the Saudi Hospital in Hajjah, and the doctors were unable to save the life of the girl or her child.

According to the statement, Fawzia was kidnapped from a school in the city of Zahra when she was in the fourth grade and married when she was just 11 years old.

“Although the cause of her death was lack of medical care, the real cause was the lack of education in Yemen and the fact that child marriages keep happening,” said Seyaj President Ahmed al-Qureshi.

The organization explained that her family suffers from extreme poverty and that her father suffers from kidney failure.

According to Seyaj, these crimes are frequent and have resulted in many deaths that were previously unaccounted for due to the lack of monitoring systems.

Seyaj states that the lack of effective legislation defining the marriage age prevents local officials from prohibiting the marriage of minors, particularly girls, or penalizing their guardians and husbands.

The same group had petitioned the Court of First Instance in the Yemeni city of Hajjah, which had postponed Rahmana Ali Mabkhout’s marriage contract until she reached the legal age of 17. The court ordered Rahmana’s father and the father of the individual with whom the marriage contract was completed to write a vow not to marry off the girl and to keep her in her parent’s house until she is 17 years old, at which point she will have the right to accept or reject the spouse.

Tragic Death of the Child Fawzia Al-Amoudi During Childbirth
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