Focus on Yemen | Opinions on Early Marriage and Gender Quotas Topic Brief

Publication Date: 
7 Dec 2010

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Opinions on Early Marriage and Gender Quotas

One of the principal objectives of the SWMENA survey was to examine the level of popular support for law reforms that have the potential to eliminate discrimination against women and enhance their participation in the social and political realms. The problem of early marriage and forced marriage remains a hotly debated issue in Yemen. Public debate over marriage rights was recently brought to the spotlight following the case of the 8-year old girl Nojoud who was married to a 32-year old against her will and went to the court alone in 2008 demanding a divorce. The issue led to the introduction of a draft law in parliament that would set a minimum marriage age at 17. The draft law was however postponed for further deliberation after strong opposition from Islamist factions. This topic brief elicits respondents’ opinions about introducing a minimum marriage age for girls. It also explores opinions and attitudes towards gender quotas including knowledge of the concept of gender quotas and whether respondents are favorable or not to their introduction in elected bodies in Yemen. 

Opinions on Minimum Marriage Ages

Early marriage remains a widely spread phenomenon in Yemen and is believed to be one the main causes leading to high maternal mortality rates. Both girls and boys tend to marry young in Yemen, however, the implications of early marriage for women is understandably more serious due to the prevalence of teenage pregnancies which are most often coupled with short birth intervals, high fertility rates, and inadequate reproductive healthcare. Numerous women’s NGOs are trying to push for the introduction of a minimum marriage age at 17. In the SWMENA survey, respondents were asked a series of questions about their opinions of the minimum acceptable marriage age for girls and boys and whether they supported a law that would set a minimum legal marriage age.

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