One Brave Little Girl

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Nujood Ali is ten, but unlike most ten-year-olds she’s already been married and divorced.  Also, unlike most

ten-year-olds, she’s suffered horrors almost unimaginable at the hands of her “husband” who beat her and

Nujood Ali was only ten when she was married off to a man in his thirties.

raped her, even though according to the deal struck with her parents he promised to wait until she was 20 to have any sort of physical relations with her.  Nujood describes the experience as a nightmare:

“When I got married, I was afraid. I didn’t want to leave home. I wanted to stay with my brothers and sisters and my mom and dad,” she said, I didn’t want to sleep with him, but he forced me to. He hit me, insulted me.”

This is a horrifying tale, but it is also a remarkable one.  CNN reports that:

In Yemen, there is nothing new or extraordinary about Nujood’s story because children have been married off for generations. The country’s legal minimum age for marriage was 15 till a decade ago, when the law was changed to allow for children even younger to be wed.

But what is most unusual is that this young girl took such an intensely private dispute and went public with it.

Nujood said she made up her mind to escape from her husband, describing how on a visit to her parents’ home she broke free and traveled to the central courthouse across town and demanded to speak to a judge.

“He asked me, ‘What do you want?’ And I said, ‘I want a divorce.’ And he said, ‘You’re married?’ And I said, ‘Yes,’” she recalled.

This is a victory for the modern world, and at the hands of a ten-year-old girl.  To show how far we have to go to overcome the brutality and anti-woman nature of Islamic Law (or Sharia) read on…

Nujood got her divorce, but based on the principles of Islamic Sharia law, her husband was compensated, not prosecuted. Nujood was ordered to pay him more than $200. The human rights lawyer who represented her donated the money.

“I did this so that people would listen and think about not marrying their daughters off as young as I was,” she said with a shy smile.

It’s heartbreaking and incredible all at once.  Nujood is my new hero.  She should be a hero to all the oppressed women in the Islamic world, many of whom are married off to older men as child brides, submitted to a life of oppression and inhumanity, and oftentimes much worse.

[photo courtesy of CNN]


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