Man Marries 12-Year-Old Child in NSW, Australia; Police File Child Sex Charges

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By Reissa Su | February 7, 2014 5:15 PM EST

A 26-year-old man from New South Wales in Sydney was arrested and locked behind bars after reportedly having sexual relations and "marrying" a 12-year-old child bride in a religious ceremony.

According to a report by NineMSN, the man, who will be left unnamed to protect the child's identity, met the young girl in Hunter in 2012. Since then, the NSW man became involved with the girl and had sex with her.

Authorities had claimed the two lived together in a house on Sydney's southwest and continued their relationship as a couple. They were allegedly married in a religious ceremony held in NSW earlier in 2014. The girl has just turned 13 years old.

Police charged the man with 25 counts of sexual relations with a child between 10 and 14 years of age. The offender appeared briefly at Burwood Local Court on Feb 7 and communicated with the aid of an Arabic interpreter. The man did not request for bail and the court also denied bail formally.

Taking child brides a Yemeni practice

Unlike in Australia, child brides are common in Yemen. According to Yemeni laws, girls of any age are allowed to marry. Statistics reveal that 52 per cent of Yemeni girls are married before they reach 18 years of age. The law also prohibits sexual intercourse until young girls have reached puberty. This law is often ignored by many, based on cultural practice.

Sophie Ghaziri of Al Arabiya said in relation to Yemen's cultural practice that girls even younger than eight years old are married. By the time they reach puberty, they already have children of their own. Ms. Ghaziri said child marriage in Yemen is driven by poverty and deeply-rooted tradition.

A YouTube clip of 11-year-old girl from Yemen, Nada Al-Ahdal, became viral in 2013 after a Reddit user posted the link on the popular Web site. In the video, the young girl described the reason why she was running away from home, leaving her parents behind to stay with her uncle.

According to the video translation of some users in Reddit, the girl ran away from home because she was being forced to marry at her young age. She questions the loss of innocence of childhood and why Yemeni children are forced to enter into arranged marriages by their parents.

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