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Women in Yemen rally in support of a child bride law

Yemeni schoolgirl Nujood
Former child bride Nujood Mohammed Ali was at the rally

Hundreds of women have rallied outside Yemen's parliament to show support for a law banning child marriages.

The law being proposed would set a minimum age for girls to be married at 17 and 18 for boys.

But some conservative Muslims are against the law being passed. The rally comes days after thousands of women protested against it.

The government proposed the law after the marriage of an eight-year-old girl to a 30-year-old man was annulled.

The girl, Nujood Mohammed Ali, was outside the parliament in Sanaa among the women at the rally.

She was quoted by news agency Agence France Presse saying she was protesting in the hope that the law would go through without any changes.

But some MPs have submitted requests for the law's review.

Deaths in childbirth

On Monday a group of Islamic clerics issued a decree condemning the law, and said its supporters were apostates.

Some of the signatories of the decree were lawmakers sitting on the committee charged with amending the law, it was reported.

The speaker of parliament, Yehya al-Raei, said it was possible that the law would be changed to maintain the age limit, but punishments for breaking the law including prison sentences and fines would be cancelled.

The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation in April.

Campaigners say young married girls having children is a factor in high maternal mortality rates.

The practice is also the cause of high illiteracy rates among women, as young girls' studies are interrupted.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. More than a quarter of women there are married before the age of 15, campaigners say.



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