Health support for girls in forced marriage

Photo does not depict the person featured in the story. UNFPA.

‍Yemen | 2021 | CERF

Yemen. Of the 4 million girls married before the age of 18 in Yemen, 1.4 million were married before they were 15.

Sixteen-year-old Ibtisam* was married when she was 14. “Since I was young, I’ve dreamt of becoming a doctor of obstetrics and gynecology because of the increasing number of deaths due to early marriage. When war erupted, and the conflict escalated, many families suffered, losing their jobs and becoming displaced. I moved with my family from another district near relatives in search of safety.”

As a result of their displacement, Ibtisam’s parents married her to a cousin ten years older than her. Ibtisam was forced to leave school and soon became pregnant. “When circumstances became stable enough, my parents moved back to our old house, leaving me alone with my husband, who started to mistreat me and attempted to end the pregnancy.”

Ibtisam reached out to a UNFPA-supported safe space, where she accessed psychological support and health care, and was referred to a safe shelter.Ibtisam explains: “I did not want to go. Instead, the safe space contacted my parents and provided me with a case manager to accompany me on my move home.”

UNFPA helped Ibtisam – and other girls in her situation – to prepare for the birth of her first child. Ibtisam also took part in a vocational training programme where she learned tailoring. She then went on to became a trainer, teaching other women the new skills she had acquired.

At a UNFPA-supported hospital, Ibtisam delivered her baby via emergency Caesarean and, with help from a lawyer provided by UNFPA, she was granted a divorce and monthly child support.

With the support of CERF and other donors, UNFPA supports 51 safe spaces, 9 shelters and 8 mental health centres across Yemen.

Photo does not depict the person featured in the story.

Original story (UNFPA)

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