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Yemeni females often ‘used’ in intermarriages with foreigners

Published on 21 January 2013 in Report
Nadia Haddash (author)

Nadia Haddash


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An increasing number of Yemeni women are marrying foreign men.

An increasing number of Yemeni women are marrying foreign men.

Recent statistics released by the Ministry of Justice highlight an increase in the number of intermarriages between foreigners and Yemenis.  These numbers have left people asking questions about why Yemenis have become more desirable to foreigners.

According to the report, more foreign men marry Yemeni women than foreign women marry Yemeni men.

Those at the Ministry who produced the statistics say a major reason behind this is the cost of dowries.  

In Yemen and many other Arab countries, men customarily give dowries to women in order to secure a marriage. In countries like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the price of dowries has increased significantly in recent years. This has resulted in men struggling to meet dowry demands and marrying later in life when they are more financially secure.

In Yemen, women typically offer a cheaper alternative to their gulf counterparts.  Men from these countries have often come to Yemen to find brides that won’t break their bank balance says Aref Ghaleb, the deputy of the Documentation and Registration Office in the Ministry of Justice.

The ministry’s report reveals 212 Saudi men married Yemeni women in 2012. In contrast, only five Yemeni males married Saudi females.

Huda Ba’aqeel, a Yemeni female, who married a Saudi two years ago says she believes her husband chose her over a Saudi bride because of her “affordable” dowry price.

Although Ghaleb says the Ministry of Justice checks marriages in Yemen before they are processed to makes sure they correspond with Islamic laws, many marriages between Yemenis and foreigners are unsuccessful, leading some to call for an awareness campaign that highlights the difficulties of intermarriage.

Bilquis Mohammed Al-Dhamari, a 22-year-old, married an Omani man, but ended up divorcing him.

“My family forced me to marry an Omani because he was rich, yet they knew nothing about him,” the young woman said.

Ghaleb asserted that the Justice Ministry attempts to ensure all legal proceedings are followed to guarantee the rights of Yemeni females who marry foreigners and live with them abroad.

However, despite the Ministry of Justice’s assurance, a lawyer, Abdulrahman Barman, claims many Yemeni families marry their daughters to foreigners without following legal procedures due to a lack of legal awareness.

Although the Justice and Interior Ministries oblige both partners to gain the approval of the two ministries and the foreign party’s embassy, many marriages are slipping through the cracks, often at the detriment of Yemeni females.

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