An 8-year-old girl in Yemen died of internal bleeding on her wedding night after marrying a man five times her age.
"On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death," Arwa Othman, head of Yemen House of Folklore, told Reuters of the child bride, whom she referred to as Rawan. "They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn't save her life."
The girl was married to a 40-year-old man in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province in northwestern Yemen.
A local security official denied that the girl's death had taken place.
Two Meedi residents told Reuters that the girl had died on her wedding night and that the local tribal chiefs tried to cover up her death when the news broke. A local journalist was reportedly warned to not cover the story.
Due to the extensive poverty in Yemen, it is not uncommon for poor families to arrange marriages for their young daughters in exchange for a dowry.
Othman said authorities have not taken action against the husband or the girl’s family.
In 2013, Human Rights Watch reported that nearly 14 percent of Yemeni girls were married before the age of 15 and 52 percent before the age of 18.
The marriage of young girls to older men is not uncommon in many parts of the world, including the United States.
According to Statista, some states allow girls to marry at the age of 12, which is matched by only two other countries, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, where the consent for marriage ranges between 9 and 13 years old.
It was, until recently, legal for a girl under the age of 13 to wed in Virginia, as long as she had parental consent and was pregnant, The Washington Post reported. Between 2004 and 2013, the state had nearly 4,500 minors marry, including more than 200 who were 15 or younger.
Of the underage spouses, about 90 percent were girls, and in many cases they were married to men aged 21 or older. In some cases, the man was decades older than the girl.
Virginia changed the law in July to the age of 18, or 16 if a child is emancipated by court order.