I first met Lubna in 2010, when I was the project coordinator for Pathfinder's Safe Age of Marriage project, a pilot intervention designed to improve community knowledge on the social and health consequences of child marriage in Yemen. I was visiting a community member when Lubna's mother stopped by and asked me to talk to her daughter. Lubna was only eight years old, but like many other Yemeni girls, she was already engaged (her fiancé was 12). When I asked her how she felt about getting married at such a young age, Lubna grew very quiet and said she just wanted to "stay with her mom."
Stories like Lubna's are common in Yemen. I remember, when I was a child my grandmother told us about how she was married at nine and that we had no idea how blessed we were. At the time, we would just laugh and listen to her funny stories of those first years of marriage, never actually realizing what it meant to be married so young. My conversation with Lubna made the young girl's plight very real to me. Yemeni families want to protect their daughters from the temptation of premarital sex and to ensure their daughters have many sons, but they fail to see the devastating effects early marriage can have on the girls' education, health, and financial standing.
In the time it has taken to read this article 14 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
That is 23 girls every minute
Nearly 1 every 3 seconds