Emirates: No more adolescent brides

Trends are changing, average woman now marries at an average age

29 October, 20:25

UAE female voter casts her ballot for the Federal National Council Elections in Dubai, on 24 September 2011 UAE female voter casts her ballot for the Federal National Council Elections in Dubai, on 24 September 2011

(ANSAmed) - DUBAI- Women living in the Persian Gulf oil monarchies are among the most powerful in terms of rights and progress made. The trend for child-brides has almost disappeared and represents one of the most significant victories of the last 20 years.

When the economy of these monarchies was based on pearl fishing and sheep-farming, child-bride marriages were the norm. Two generations later, this trend has been completely reversed. The latest statistics reveal that Abu Dhabi's inhabitants now marry after their twentieth birthday - men at an average age of 26,5 , while 25,9 is the average age for women. The changing economic trends of the country acted as the first catalyst for this change. The discovery of oil has seen more investments in facilities and infrastructure as well as in education and in additional empowerment among residents. Precocious and combined marriages that were once forced upon young brides is a widespread trend in developing countries.

According to a recently-published UN report, one third of girls in countries throughout the Middle East, Africa and Asia get married before reaching the legal age. Among the Arab-Muslim countries, Yemen has the largest number of child-brides, with over 40% of women marrying before the eighteenth birthday. The trend for combined marriages also continues in Saudi Arabia, with mature men marrying girls as young as nine and ten years of age. This conservative tradition is being challenged by a growing concern among citizens of Saudi Arabian countries, who have launched various mouvements and initiatives to address the problem of child-brides, as well as by pressure on behalf of international organisations. Even though there are no existing statistics for the UAE, the child-bride trend began to decline, even among the federation's socially and economically poorer countries, starting from the early nineties. This is mainly thanks to the higher literacy rates among its citizens, with a higher attendance recorded in both secondary and university education, and for the sheikhs adopting a policy of inserting women in all productive spheres, both administrative and political . Nowadays, it's the women's father themselves who want an education and career for their daughters before seeing them married. (ANSAmed).

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