Gulf News published this update, showing SIGNIFICANT problems with the family’s story, as well as eyewitness evidence of a cover-up of the girl’s death.
Like I said before, the whole thing smelled like a cover-up. More on this story as it develops…
A wedding, a funeral or a cover-up?
Controversy surrounding alleged death of child bride continues to shake Yemen
- By Saeed Al Batati, Correspondent
- Published: 22:30 September 14, 2013
- Image Credit: Saeed Al Batati/Gulf News
- I would like to say [to the people who say I am dead]that this is not true. I live with my parents, sisters and one brother. I quit my studies when I was in Midi and will go back [to school]this year. I would like to be a doctor in future, says Rawan.
Haradh, Yemen: The controversy surrounding the alleged marriage and death of an eight-year-old girl on her wedding night has continued to shake two small Yemeni towns where her family live.
The case came to light last week when local residents told the local media that a young girl named Rawan — who had just turned eight — was married to a man in his 40s. She died shortly after the wedding in Haradh, southern Yemen. While local residents confirm the incident, security officials say that girl is safe and sound.
“Rawan is alive,” Mosleh Al Ghouzi, the director of Haradh Criminal Investigation, told Gulf News as he pointed at a girl playing outside a small house. “Look, that is Rawan! She is playing. She is the girl that people claim to be dead.”
When Gulf News approached the house, her father showed up and agreed to speak about his ordeal. He strongly denied marrying off his daughter.
“My name is Mohammad Abkar Ebrahim Hattan,” said the middle-aged man. “These rumours [about the marriage and death of my daughter]are baseless. Those who fabricated the story intend to disturb the media and officials and to tarnish my image.”
According to Hattan’s neighbours in Midi, a small area near Haradh where he used to live, the man’s family come back to Midi but settled in Haradh when his daughter died.
“Yes, I [used to live]in Midi and travelled to Haradh because my house was ruined,” Hattan explained. “I stayed here with people who help me.”
When asked about his identification papers, he said that he used to have an election card, but he lost it and could not afford to obtain an official ID. But his neighbours confirmed his identity when Gulf Newsshowed them his photo.
“I am a father of three daughters and a son,” he said. “The eldest daughter is married and lives with her husband in Midi. The others live with me here.”
Then the cheerful girl confidently answered Gulf News questions about her identity, her alleged marriage — and death — and her future dreams.
“My name is Rawan Mohammad Abker Ibrahim Hattan,” the eight-year-old said. “I would like to say [to the people who say I am dead]that this is not true. I live with my parents, sisters and one brother. I quit my studies when I was in Midi and will go back [to school]this year. I would like to be a doctor in future.”
Like her father, the girl does not have any identification papers.
The family’s makeshift accommodation is in close proximity to the headquarters of the Criminal Investigation Department in Haradh.
To take photos of the father and his daughter, Gulf News had to obtain permission from the security officer who stayed around waiting for the newspaper to finish its interview and inquiries. Armed security escorts and some local residents surrounded Gulf News, creating a sense of fear in those being questioned — with little room for thorough checking or questioning interview subjects more deeply.