EU 'appalled' by 8-year-old girl's death in forced marriage

BRUSSELS - European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton on Friday demanded Yemen ban the forced marriage of children after the death of an eight-year-old from injuries on her wedding night.

Ashton said in a statement she was "appalled" by the girl's death from serious injuries including internal bleeding.

"I call on the Yemeni government to abide by its obligations under international law, including the UN Conventions protecting the rights of the child, of which Yemen is a member, and to immediately reinstate legislation setting a minimum age for marriage, in line with international norms, to prohibit such abuse of children."

Arwa Othman, head of Yemen's House of Folklore and a leading rights campaigner, has said the girl, identified only as Rawan, was married to a 40-year-old last week in the town of Meedi in Hajjah province, north-western Yemen.

"On the wedding night and after intercourse, she suffered from bleeding and uterine rupture which caused her death," Othman was quoted as saying in British daily The Guardian.

"They took her to a clinic but the medics couldn't save her life."

Othman said authorities had not taken any action against the girl's family or her husband.

But the paper quoted a security official denying any such incident had taken place.