An avid reader, I tend to read a lot of true stories and biographies. Currently, I’ve picked up the book, I Am Nujodd; 10 and Divorced. It’s the story about a girl, aged 10 who was married and divorced in Yemen. Her age is an estimation due to the lack of registration of births in Yemen; there are some thoughts that she could have been as young as 9. Her mother having given birth to 16 children was, understandably, a little foggy on the exact dates and years for all of her children’s births.
As the story goes, Nujood is promised to an older man (three times her age), whom she refers to as the “monster”. Going back on his vow to not touch her until she grew older; the youngster was subjected to repeated rapes and abuse. A horrible story, worse yet knowing that it’s a true story. This young heroine ran away to a courthouse one day and in a show of solidarity for her well-being, some of the Yemeni officials sheltered her. A lawyer was provided for her and her divorce was granted.
Unfortunately the only thing that is uncommon in this story is the fact that this youngster stood up for her own rights. Child brides are very common in Iran and the MIddle East. Brutal deaths are heard of as well as miscarriages, death during childbirth and birth defects in these arrangements. In instances such as this, the parents of the child bride often apologize to the groom as though it were the child’s fault and in some instances offer a different daughter in the hopes of maintaining their family’s status in the community.
Nujood’s story has been pivotal in changing the laws of marriage with regard to age and has been a guiding force in recent times for at least two other girls to remove themselves from a damaging marriage.
A diminutive but powerful voice in educating people around the world and in her own country, Nujood had this to say of her situation.
“I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.”