Yemen is one of 20 "hot spot" countries for child marriage, a conservative Muslim nation where a seventh of all girls are married by age 14 and nearly half by age 17. In rural districts, girls as young as 9 are often betrothed. Most "hot spot" countries are clustered in central Africa, with other pockets in Southeast Asia and Central America.
Various factors have institutionalized child marriage. For some, it is a tribal custom. For others, exchanging daughters without dowries in "trade marriages" makes economic sense.
Regardless of its causes, child marriage represents a human rights infringement and a public health problem. It deprives young girls of a childhood, enhances their risk of domestic abuse, and entraps them in a cycle of poverty.