Monday, March 15, 2010

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui. Many of us, myself included, take for granted the rights and privileges we have living here in the United States of America. I have a voice and opinions that when I feel the need and the appropriate time, I use without hesitation.

This true story takes place in Yemen, in 2008. Nujood, a little girl of ten years, loves to play with her brothers and sisters, go to school, draw with colored pencils, play hide and seek with her friends, and enjoys eating chocolate. Isn't that what children are supposed to enjoy doing? Not so in Yemen. Child marriages and child trafficking are common occurrences.

Nujood is born in a small village called Khardji, with only five stone houses. No grocery stores, no barber, no doctors or even a medical clinic, not even a mosque. She was brought up to never question a man, not even her own brothers. She was never taught how to make a choice. Her own mother, uneducated, was married off at sixteen years of age and bore sixteen children, some of whom died in infancy. The family was large and very poor.

The family suddenly moved to Sana'a, a larger community with grocery stores, taxi's, schools, hospitals and police. For the first time in her life Nujood was allowed to attend school, which she loved! Then, without any warning, in February of 2008, Nujood's father told her he had some good news--she was to be married!

Nujood did not want to be married, she wanted to continue with school, play with her friends, and draw with her colored pencils. All she remembered hearing were the words her father told her older sister Mona, "one less mouth to feed". Within days she was put in a wedding dress too big for her small body, and married off to a man over thirty years old. A man who promised Nujood's father he would not have relations with her until she had reached puberty. After the wedding, Nujood, Faez-her husband, and his family returned to Khardji where they lived. Despite making promises to Ali, Faez did indeed rape and beat Nujood that very night.

Nujood went from being a little girl to a married woman overnight. Faez regularly beat her and forced himself upon her each and every evening. Nujood begged to return to her parents and her family.

After several months Faez agreed to take her back home for a visit. She pleaded with her family to allow her to stay home and get a divorce. Absolutely not, she would not dishonor and shame her family, she was married now. Nujood desperately plans her escape. One morning Nujood was sent to the store for some groceries when she took matters into her own young hands. She went to the courthouse and demanded to see a judge. She waited and finally was allowed to see a judge who listened to her problem, she was ten years old, married to a man who was over thirty, a man who regularly beat her and raped her. She wanted a divorce.

The media hears of her story. Newspapers and television personnel want to interview her and listen to her story. Nujood is assisted in her quest with the help of a woman attorney, extremely rare in her country and two judges. She has her hearing and is granted her divorce. However, because there are no shelters in Yemen for young girls, Nujood is sent back home to live with her parents and her family. Not exactly the best scenario.

This story is not over. Nujood is twelve or thirteen years old today! She continues to live with her parents, although both are ill. She and her younger sister have returned to school. In November, 2008, Glamour magazine named Nujood, the youngest divorcee' in the world, as one of their "Woman of the Year" recipients. As a direct result of all the media attention, this book was written and Nujood and her family are living a bit more comfortably today. This story is a very quick read and one I promise you won't be able to put down easily.

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