10 Year Old “Divorced Woman”
One morning Arwa Abdu Muhammad Ali walked out of her husband’s house here and ran to a local hospital, where she complained that he had been beating and sexually abusing her for eight months.
She was the second child bride to come forward in less than a month; in April, a 10-year-old named Nujood Ali had gone by herself to a courthouse to demand a divorce, generating a landmark legal case.
Together, the two girls’ stories have helped spur a movement to put an end to child marriage. The average age of marriage in Yemen’s rural areas is 12 to 13 & not surprisingly The country has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world.
The issue first arose because of Nujood The trouble started on the first night, when her 30-year-old husband, Faez Ali Thamer, took off her clothes as soon as the light was out. She ran crying from the room, but he caught her, brought her back and forced himself on her. ( One of the ten year old )
Nujood complained repeatedly to her husband’s relatives and later to her own parents after the couple moved back to their house in Sana. But they said they could do nothing. To break a marriage would expose the family to shame. Finally, her uncle told her to go to court. On April 2, she said, she walked out of the house by herself and hailed a taxi.
When Nujood’s case was called the next Sunday, the courtroom was crowded with reporters and photographers, alerted by her lawyer. Her father and husband were also there; the judge had jailed them the night before to ensure that they would appear in court. (Both were released the next day.) “Do you want a separation, or a permanent divorce?” the judge, Muhammad al-Qadhi, asked the girl, after hearing her testimony and that of her father and her husband.
“I want a permanent divorce,” she replied, without hesitation. The judge granted it.
After Nujood’s case became public, Ms. Nasser said she received angry letters from conservative women denouncing her for her role. But she has also begun receiving calls about girls, some younger than Nujood, trying to escape their marriages.
One of them was Arwa, who was married last year at the age of 8 here in the ancient town of Jibla, four hours south of Sana. As with Nujood’s case, Arwa’s situation aroused a legal and social outrage.
A third girl, Reem is still waiting for the court’s decision and says her two ambitions are to get a divorce and go to college.
Married at 12, she describes the moment when her 30-year-old husband insisted on sex. When she resisted, he choked and bit her and dragged her by the hair, overwhelming her with force.
Just so we know who it is we are talking about. There is no underestimating the bravery of individuals. Of these three little girls – of the legal precedent they set. To me one or two girl saved from regular rape and beatings is less important to me than the precedent the Yemeni judicial system has set.
A precedent that might save hundreds of thousands of girl!! She became a heroine in Yemen.
As far as my limited knowledge goes – This was the first time a Child bride sought and got a divorce on her own because she was forced into a marriage.
And as far as I know – that still has never happened in Pakistan. Children given in marriage usually stay in that marriage despite any opposition they might have had to that marriage.
In the months since – that girls courage galvanized Yemen, in those months two more Children given into marriage sought legal help ( & were not killed ).
Nujood became a celebrity in the western world when her story became more popular. Appearing for Interviews and featured in Glamour Magazine voted women of the year by them. That one girl saved herself & that is why she is the exception.
When Ideas mix, better Ideas come from them!! Its what we call ‘awareness’
Granted what we say reaches too few people and too many of them already share our Philosophy – but those Ideas do make their way through society. Its just a question of time.
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