I am Nujood, age 10 and divorced.

I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced – Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui (2010, Broadway Paperbacks, New York)

Despite the fact that Nujood Ali was honoured by Glamour magazine alongside Hillary Clinton as “Woman of the Year” in 2008 and all the international attention the young Yemeni girl’s marriage and divorce has garnered, I must admit I wasn’t aware of the details of her story until I recently read this English translation of her biography.  At the tender age of ten, Nujood was yanked out of school and away from her childhood games and forced by her cash-strapped father into marriage to a man in his thirties.

Confused and terrified, Nujood was subjected to the misery of her marriage, sexually and physically abused by her husband, until she one day summoned the courage to run away to the courthouse and declare her intention to obtain a divorce.  And, against all odds, aided by a progressive female lawyer named Shada Nasser and outraged, supportive media from Yemen and abroad, Nujood was ultimately granted her wish.   Nujood’s story is not easy to digest, and the suffering she endures is made even more horrifying by the fact that other girls her age have been subjected to the same atrocities.  Fortunately, Nujood’s divorce has set a precedent that may save some youngsters from a similar fate.

I did a bit more reading about Nujood and it seems that there was a downside to her triumph:  the international fame did little to help her or her family (with whom she returned to live after the dissolution of her marriage), and for a time, Nujood regretted telling her story to the media.  Apparently, once the firestorm of the press subsided, Nujood returned to her studies and some semblance of normalcy.   But what will the future hold for Nujood and other girls like her?

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