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22 Yemeni girls went missing in two months.

Sana'a: Twenty-two girls went missing in the last couple of months in the Yemen province of Ibb, two local security officials told Gulf News.

Most of the missing girls eloped with lovers and police managed to locate 85 per cent of them and brought them back to their families.

Colonel Ahmad Daham, the head of the Morality Crimes at Ibb's Criminal Investigation Department, said the number of missing girls has reached a "worrying scale", attributing the increase to some factors like family disputes and social media.

The age of the missing girls is from 13-22. He did not give any details of girls who went missing in the previous months.

"We have a case of a girl who eloped with her lover last week to the province of Sa'ada when she learnt that she would get married to her cousin whom she doesn't love." As the girl escaped from the house after the marriage contact, she cannot wed her lover until her husband divorces her.

"We identified their location in Sa'ada and we are trying to bring her back to her family," Daham said.

Daham maintains that there is a similar number of missing girls which remain unreported by their families. "Some families think that reporting disappearance of their girls will bring disgrace to them. So they keep silent when their girls disappear for any reason."

Daham mentioned the case of another girl who fled her home when her father-in-law began harassing her.

Colonel Anwar Hatem, the director of Criminal Investigation in Ibb, told Gulf News that some girls go missing because they are kidnapped by some people who want to extract money from their families. "Not all missing girls eloped with lovers. A few of them were kidnapped by some people who have a feud with their families." he said.

In Yemen, escaping with a man who is not a relative can lead to the death of the girl. Local Yemeni press have often reported on young girls who were murdered by families for eloping with men.

Shaker Qaid, a journalist from Ibb, said girls elope with people whom they love because they do not have a say about the man whom they wed. "The long-standing traditions and media play an important role in forcing girls to flee their home. "he said, adding, "Some girls copy actors on TV who escape with lovers, get married and force their families to accept their marriage. They do not know that we live in a conservative society."

Poverty is also blamed for girls' bid to elope with men. "Some men seduce poverty-stricken girls by giving them mobiles and gifts and then ask them to desert their families if they refuse to let them marry," Qaid said.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7YEME
Date:Sep 18, 2013
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