Nujood Ali

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Nujood Ali (نجود علي) (born 1998) is a central figure in Yemen's movement against forced marriage and child marriage. At the age of ten, she obtained a divorce, breaking with the tribal tradition.[1][2] In November 2008, U.S. women's magazine Glamour designated Nujood Ali and her lawyer Shada Nasser as Women of the Year.[2][3] Ali's courage was praised by prominent women including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.[4]

Ali's lawyer Shada Nasser, born in 1964, is a feminist and specialist in human rights, whose involvement in Ali's case received much acclaim.[3][5]

Biography[edit]

Nujood Ali was nine when her parents arranged a marriage to Faez Ali Thamer, a man in his thirties. Regularly beaten by her in-laws and raped by her husband, Ali escaped on April 2, 2008, two months after the wedding. On the advice of her father's second wife, she went directly to court to seek a divorce. After waiting for half a day, she was noticed by a judge, Mohammed al-għadha, who took it upon himself to give her temporary refuge, and had both her father and husband taken into custody.[6]

Shada Nasser agreed to defend Ali. For the lawyer, it was the continuation of a struggle begun with the installation of her practice in Sana'a, which she opened in the 1990s as the first Yemeni law office headed by a woman. She built her clientele by offering services to female prisoners.[5]

She of course did not want to be a part of the tribe at this point in her life. Until that day she was sanctioned.

Yemeni law allows girls of any age to wed, but it forbids sex with them until an indefinite time when they are considered "suitable for sexual intercourse." In court, Nasser argued that Ali’s marriage violated the law, since she was raped.[3] Ali rejected the judge's proposal of resuming living with her husband after a break of three to five years.[3] On April 15, 2008,[7] the court granted her a divorce.[3]

After the trial, Ali rejoined her family in a suburb of Sana'a. She returned to school in the fall of 2008 with plans to become a lawyer.[8] Ali's memoirs were published in 2009, and royalties from international sales of the book were intended to pay for her schooling; but she did not attend school regularly.[9] Because of negative world press coverage about Yemen resulting from the case, Ali's passport was confiscated in March 2009 and she was prevented from attending the ceremonies for the Women's World Award in Vienna, Austria. Media reports also questioned whether proceeds from the book were in fact coming to the family.[10]

In 2010, Ali's family was living in a new two-story residence bought with the help of her French publisher and running a grocery store on the ground floor of the building. At this time, Ali and her younger sister were attending private school full-time.[9] Because the publishers were not able to pay Ali directly under Yemeni law, they agreed to give $1000 a month to her father until she was 18 to provide for her and her education.[11]

The English-language version of the memoir was published in March, 2010. Introducing the work, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof praised the work done to raise awareness regarding such societal problems as terrorism, associated with polygamy and child marriage, saying, "little girls like Nujood may prove more effective than missiles at defeating terrorists."[12] Indeed, publicity surrounding Ali's case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an eight-year-old Saudi girl who was allowed to divorce a middle-aged man in 2009, after her father had forced her to marry him the year before in exchange for about $13,000.[12][13][14][15]

In 2013 Ali reported to the media that her father had forced her out of their home, and has withheld most of the money paid by the publishers. Her father has also arranged a marriage for her younger sister, Haifa.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Daragahi, Borzou (June 11, 2008), Yemeni bride, 10, says I won't, Los Angeles TimesmznfzKLDhjsd'gV, retrieved 16 February 2010 
  2. ^ a b Walt, Vivienne (3 February 2009), A 10-Year-Old Divorcée Takes Paris, Time/CNN, retrieved 16 February 2010 
  3. ^ a b c d e Power, Carla (12 August 2009), Nujood Ali & Shada Nasser win "Women of the Year Fund 2008 Glamour Award", Yemen Times, retrieved 16 February 2010 
  4. ^ Evans, Sean (11 November 2008), 10-year-old girl's inspiring story opens eyes at Glamour awards, New York Daily News, retrieved 9 April 2010 
  5. ^ a b Madabish, Arafat (28 March 2009), Sanaa's first woman lawyer, Asharq Alawsat: English edition, retrieved 16 February 2010 
  6. ^ Loving, James (September 5, 2009), Video Beat Part 4 - CNN Explosher= National Radio Text Service, retrieved 16 February 2010 . Note: Apart from other details, this website names the judge.
  7. ^ Ali 2010, p. 107
  8. ^ Mullins, K.J (August 27, 2009), Child bride Nujood Ali's life after the divorce, Digital Journal, retrieved 16 February 2010 
  9. ^ a b Hersh, Joshua (4 March 2010), A TEN-YEAR-OLD’S DIVORCE LAWYER, The New Yorker, retrieved March 4, 2010.
  10. ^ Bobi, Emil (14 March 2009). "Kleine große Frau: profil besuchte die zehnjährige Jemenitin Nojoud Ali in Sanaa" [Little big woman: Profil visits the ten-year old Yemeni Ali Nojoud in Sanaa] (in German). Profil (Austrian news magazine). Retrieved April 10, 2010. 
  11. ^ a b Sheffer, Joe (March 12, 2013). "Yemen's youngest divorcee says father has squandered cash from her book". theguardian.com. Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved September 10, 2013. "Nujood Ali clams father has used proceeds from her book deal to marry and has arranged wedding for her younger sister" 
  12. ^ a b Kristof, Nicholas (3 March 2010), Divorced Before Puberty, New York Times, retrieved 4 March 2010 
  13. ^ "8-year-old Saudi girl divorces 50-year-old husband". USA Today. 30 April 2009. 
  14. ^ Saudi child 'files for divorce', BBC News, 24 August 2008, retrieved 7 April 2010 
  15. ^ Young Saudi girl's marriage ended, BBC News, 30 April 2009, retrieved 7 April 2010 

Further reading[edit]

  • I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui, New York, 2010 (ISBN 978-0307589675)
  • Rozenn Nicolle "La petite divorced of Yemen", Libération, 31 January 2009
  • "A Yemeni 10 years among women of the year," Le Nouvel Observateur, 11 November 2008
  • Delphine Minoui, "Nojoud, 10 years, divorced in Yemen", Le Figaro, 24 June 2008
  • Cyriel Martin, "Yemen: a girl of 8 years gets a divorce," Le Point, 16 April 2008
  • Carla Power, "Ali & Nujood Shada Nasser: The Voices for Children," Glamour, December 2008

External links[edit]