Friday, July 11, 2008

Divorced at 10

Today on there is a story of a girl in Yemen named Nujood Ali who was has already been married and divorced by the age of 10. Nujood's parents married her off to a man three times her age but claims Nujood's husband promised not to touch her until she was 20...ummm... I'm finding that a little hard to believe.

Nujood was raped and beaten by her husband. She begged her parents to help her but they said there was nothing they could do since she now belonged to her husband. (Let me repeat that : "she now BELONGED to her husband")

One day while visiting her parents Nujood escaped to the central courthouse and demanded to speak to a judge. She told the judge she was married and desperately needed a divorce to which the judge responded, "You're married?"

Nujood's husband and father were jailed before the hearing to ensure they would appear in court. She was given a human rights lawyer and was granted her divorce.

Nujood was returned to her parents (yes, she was returned to the people that enslaved her) and her husband was not prosecuted - instead he was COMPENSATED! Yep that's right Nujood had to pay HIM over $200.

Nujood now says she doesn't go out and play because she is ridiculed by neighbors and family members because they believe she shouldn't have challenged the system. Apparently this happens all the time in Yemen.

Not surprisingly Nujood said she will never marry again.

Obviously a witty response to this tragic news story wouldn't be appropriate (not that I could even fathom a response). All I can say is next time you're having a bad day and someone cuts you off in traffic or messes up your Starbucks coffee order just be glad you live in a culture that give you many opportunities that other cultures don't have.

10 year old bride



pyewacket said...

Oh, that poor child. She was so brave to do what she did. I am surprised we even got to hear her story...that her family and community let this come out.

Recently, the different network news orgs have been reporting more and more about how as a matter of course a poor family will sell off a young daughter to work for another family who has more money (or more goats).

I saw practically the same story play out both in Asia and in Africa. These smart (and yet uneducated) and brave young girls who speak out to foreign reporters about their story. Even though they are have been beaten by the woman of the house if she didn't think the girl (on average around age 8) was working hard enough.

Their stories break my heart...but we don't hear enough about these girls and others who are enslaved one way or the other throughout the world (even here in the US) because it is easier to "report" on the gossip of pseudo-celebs personal lives.

Alice said...

My heart is broken.
You are caring, smart, funny and important.

imthey said...

Wow, that story certainly does put things into perspective, doesn't it?

I do indeed feel blessed to live in America... a country that may certainly have its own faults but I'd still take most of our "faults" over those of many other countries.

The sad fact of course is that this young girls story is only one of so many similar ones in many countries... this is of course only one more reason that everyone should attempt to educate themselves on the atrocities that occur all over the world we live in (including in our own country) and let others know too... after all Gandhi said "be the change you wish to see in the world".

It was Pastor Martin Niemöller to whom was attributed this wonderful poem "First they came" that has been rewritten many times over to include other passages, but its powerful statement stands no matter the group included to show that if no one ever does anything and the time comes, who will do anything for you?

"In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

ash said...

Sadly this is just one of the many horrific stories young girls face daily in impoverished countries all over the world. Sadly these countries are governed by fragmentary laws, where money and power overrides every bit of common sense or humanity.

A few years back I had heard a similar story about a 9 year old Egyptian girl who was married off to (sold off to) a 75 year old man. I was so enraged that I actually flew to Egypt and found her parents (if you wish to call them that), I asked them to tell me where the girl is, they refused and proceeded to kick me out of their house. These people lived in a situation worse than miserable; they had no electricity or fresh water and would go for days without food because they had 8 other children. Their situation was heart wrenching that I could no longer be enraged with them, my anger on the other hand became directed at the entire world for allowing this to happen. Uneducated, poor and hopeless these people didn’t know any better. I found no way but to offer them a wad of cash in return for the girl’s whereabouts. The 75 year old man (monster) had taken her to a village far from theirs and they hadn’t seen or heard from her for months. Needless to say I travelled to his village and found out that he was regarded as the most powerful man in it and was feared by all. I had to knock on so many doors and make many money offers to the people before I had finally found out where he lived. Considering the nonexistent financial situation of the villagers he was considered wealthy and many warned me that I could get seriously harmed if I were to face him with what I had come to do. So I went to the local authorities who seemed less than interested in what I had to say and told me to leave town, that I was no longer welcome there(obviously he owned them too). I tracked down the girl and saw her sitting on the dirt in the village center where the children played. She was not playing or even speaking, she just sat there watching people walk by, a stranger in a town. I cannot begin to explain the feelings that raged in me when I saw her. I walked up to her and attempted to talk to her. She was afraid of me at first and then she told me her name and that she was not from here and missed her family. When I asked her how she got here she fell silent and refused to talk to me anymore. I told her that I was going to leave now but that I would come back for her. I travelled back to the capital Cairo and informed the authorities there, they told me that these things happened in villages everywhere daily and that while the laws are trying to stop it, many of these situations go unreported and therefore nothing could be done. They were reluctant to help me at first and started making up excuses saying maybe the guy adopted her etc. After some more wads of cash and threats of sues and lawyers they agreed to investigate and said that if this girl was indeed married to this man then he would be arrested. To spare you the 2 months hassle, he is now behind bars and the girl, that sweet little girl is now adopted by a great Egyptian couple who have given her a loving home.

Ever since then, I have taken it upon myself to do what I can to help these girls and I have. My friends and family think I’m insane (a 29 year old girl who thinks she can save the world on her own) but I have rescued girls from Russia to China and will continue to do so on until I no longer can. It is quite sad that most of the work has to be done privately and personally financed by myself but in many times it has worked. Organizations have too many legal matters to worry about and take so long to make something happen so I’m glad to do is this my way.

Bridget I am a big fan of yours. Thank you for putting this issue out there. You are a great comedian and an even greater soul.


TheWeyrd1 said...

I'd heard of this story, but hadn't heard the resolution. Very unfortunate that she was not only wronged, but then had to pay actual money on top of her loss of innocence (not that there's much innocence to be had in such a culture)...sigh.

startattoo said...

I am saddened that this poor child had to endure such harshness in her young life. I just hope that she will be able to grow up understanding that life is so much more than she has been shown so far.