Yemen: UNICEF chief deplores death of 12-year-old bride

Pregnancy and childbirth can be hazardous for pre-teen and teenage mothers

15 September 2009 – The head of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has stressed that the tragic deaths of a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride and her baby after three days in labour underscores the urgent need to better protect girls against early marriage.

“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 said yesterday.

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 isThe younger the girl is when she becomes pregnant, the greater the health risks for her and her baby 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 in order to prevent tragic deaths like those of 12-year-old Fawziya and her baby.”


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