The recent death of 13-year old Yemeni child bride Elham Assi, who reportedly bled to death last week after being tied down and forced to have sex with her 23-year-old husband, has sparked outrage among rights activists in Yemen.
They are now stepping up their lobbying efforts to push for the implementation of a child marriage ban.
But that may prove a daunting challenge since fierce opposition against a ban on child brides still runs high among some religious leaders and conservatives.
Sheik Mohammed Hamzi, an official of the Islamist Yemeni opposition party Islaah and the imam of the Al-Rahman mosque in the Yemeni capital of Sana, is one of those who staunchly opposes a legal ban on child marriage.
Although he emphasizes that a woman should not get married before she is physically and mentally ready and that she herself needs to accept the marriage, he believes a law that prohibits child marriage constitutes a rights violation.
“I am against the child marriage law because it restrains the freedom of others. When a certain age [for marriage] is set, it violates the rights of others. For example, imagine a young man of 13 or 14 years of age who wants to have sex. … This is a violation of his rights,” Sheik Hamzi told The Times in an interview at his Sana home last week.