Mother Said Elham Mahdi al Assi Was Butchered
Why did 13-year old child bride Elham Mahdi al Assi die 5 days after her wedding to a man approximately twice her age? We know that she died from severe haemorrahaging resulting from the rupture of internal organs from sexual activity. But now a forensic report disclosed further information on the extent of Elham Mahdi al Assi’s injury. And Nijma Ahmed, mother of Elham Mahdi al Assi retold what her daughter said at her deathbed. She described her daughter as having been butchered.
Swap Marriage – Pathway To Child Bride’s Death
Why did Elham Mahdi al Assi become involved in a swap marriage? Among all the countries in the Middle East, Yemen is probably the poorest. And it seems that a prospective husband must pay an expensive bride price if he wishes to marry a Yemeni girl. A swap marriage, in which the brother of the bride marries the sister of the groom, is the most economical way to get married. This is because the bride price can be avoided under a swap marriage arrangement.
And that’s how Elham Mahdi al Assi found herself forced into a swap marriage after her brother agreed to marry the sister of her future husband. But this child marriage has become the pathway to Elham Mahdi al Assi’s death.
Elham Mahdi al Assi Resisted Sex Demands Of Her Husband
From what Nijma Ahmed said, it seems that Elham Mahdi al Assi was resisting the sexual demands of her husband. Nijma Ahmed said she told Elham Mahdi al Assi not to shame the family by refusing to have sex with her husband. But apparently daughter Elham Mahdi al Assi did not heed her advice. Now she is dead.
Husband Abed al-Hikmi Wanted To Consummate The Marriage
Abed al-Hikmi, husband of Elham Mahdi al Assi, was frustrated at not being able to consummate the marriage due to the resistance of his wife. Out of desperation, Abed al-Hikmi took Elham Mahdi al Assi to the neighborhood doctor. Abed al-Hikmi wanted the doctor tranquilize his wife so that she would not resist his sexual advance. But the doctor refused to administer the tranquilizers to Elham Mahdi al Assi.
The Butchering Process
Speaking after viewing the extent of Elham Mahdi al Assi’s injuries, Nijma Ahmed said: “She looked like she was butchered.” This butchering process started after the neighborhood doctor refused to administer tranquilizers to Elham Mahdi al Assi. Abed al-Hikmi decided to buy some sex performance enhancing pills.
According to Nijma Ahmed, daughter Elham Mahdi al Assi told her that Abed al-Hikmi tied her up and then forced himself upon her in rough sex as she screamed. The sex performance enhancing pills apparently was effective as Elham Mahdi al Assi could not walk the next day. So Abed al-Hikmi took Elham Mahdi al Assi back to the same neighborhood clinic for medical attention.
At the clinic, female doctor Fathiya Haidar determined that Elham Mahdi al Assi’s vaginal canal was ripped. Dr Fathiya Haidar said: “I told him not to go near her for at least ten days.” But it seems that Abed al-Hikmi did not heed Dr Fathiya Haidar’s advice. And Elham Mahdi al Assi is now dead.
A forensic report on Elham Mahdi al Assi showed that Elham Mahdi al Assi had more extensive injuries that when she first visited the clinic. This points to the possibility that the sexual assualt continued right after the visit to Dr Fathiya Haidar.
Nijma Ahmed then described what daughter Elham Mahdi al Assi, with life fast ebbing away said to her. Nijma Ahmed said: “She whispered in my ear that he had tied her up and had sex with her violently.” Then describing the last moments of Elham Mahdi al Assi, Nijma Ahmed said: “She asked me to stay beside her.” And so Nijma Ahmed stayed with Elham Mahdi al Assi when she died.
Reaction Of Husband Abed al-Hikmi
Did Abed al-Hikmi feel any guilt or remorse about the death of his young wife? Apparently not. Nijma Ahmed said: “I said to her husband, what have you done, you criminal?” And what was Abed al-Hikmi’s reaction to this? Abed al-Hikmi said that Elham Mahdi al Assi was merely possessed by spirits. He said he would bring Elham Mahdi al Assi to a folk healer who could cast out spirits from her body.
But as it turned out, Elham Mahdi al Assi died before any folk healer could visit her. And Abed al-Hikmi is now in police custody.
Reaction From UNICEF
Sigrid Kaag, Regional Director of UNICEF said: “Early marriage places girls at increased risk of dropping out of school, being exposed to violence, abuse and exploitation, and even losing their lives from pregnancy, childbirth and other complications.” In the case of child bride Elham Mahdi al Assi, this is certainly true.
Think About It
Should child marriage be banned? Should there be a minimum marriageable age? Some may argue that there is no minimum marriageable age, but sexual activity should be postponed until the child bride reaches puberty. But since girls can reach puberty at a young age, the wider question is whether her body is ready for sexual activity and child birth. Can the death of child bride Elham Mahdi al Assi bring about any change in Yemen concerning child marriage? And what about her husband? Will Abed al-Hikmi be punished for causing the death of his child bride Elham Mahdi al Assi? If not, why not?