Welcome to a country where you can get married, raped. and divorced by age 10 but can’t travel alone.
Yemen has barred a former child bride from being honored in Austria, saying she is too young to travel alone.
When she was less than 10 years old, the girl was forced to marry a man at least three times her age. After being raped and abused by him, she successfully filed for divorce and traveled abroad to talk about her ordeal.
Thursday evening, the girl will be commended for her courage at an awards gala in the Austrian capital. But she cannot attend because Yemeni authorities have confiscated her passport, saying she is too young to travel by herself.
Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, said Yemen’s ambassador in Vienna told him a 10-year-old was not allowed to travel alone within Yemen or anywhere else.
But Georg Kindel, the founder and organizer of the Women’s World Awards, said the girl’s father, brother and uncle had all offered to travel to Austria with her.
“We definitely don’t understand this,” Kindel told reporters. “She is with us in our hearts and we will watch very closely what will happen to this girl.”
The girl’s name is not disclosed in this report in line with Associated Press policy on sexually related cases. Conference organizers said she is now 10. Kindel told reporters she was forced to marry when she was 8.
Kindel said Yemeni customs officials took the girl’s passport when she returned home from Paris, where he said she had spoken “very openly” about what she went through.
Yemeni officials are probably embarrassed by this girl’s story and hope to put a lid on it by barring her from travel. Has anyone there heard of the internet?
Experts say thousands of underaged girls have been forced into marriages in Yemen, an impoverished tribal country at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.
Conditions aren’t likely to improve in the country as long as they continue to treat women like they do. That’s not Islam bashing by me and others like Thomas Barnett. A nation that doesn’t recognize basic rights for all its citizens is not likely to prosper.