While walking around Barnes and Nobles one afternoon, the cover of this book caught my eye. Set up at the table of popular school books for children and teenagers, I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced looked to be an incredible read. I’m glad books like this are being read in school. Our youth today need to know what goes on beyond our borders.
This young innocent girl was forced to marry and after a few horrible months, Nujood stood up, escaped and got help from judges and lawyers to get a divorce. The idea that a young girl would be forced to be a bride of a man three times her age sickens me. I can’t fathom it. I just can’t.
Here’s the description from amazon, because it describe the tale much better than I could:
“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.”
Forced by her father to marry a man three times her age, young Nujood Ali was sent away from her parents and beloved sisters and made to live with her husband and his family in an isolated village in rural Yemen. There she suffered daily from physical and emotional abuse by her mother-in-law and nightly at the rough hands of her spouse. Flouting his oath to wait to have sexual relations with Nujood until she was no longer a child, he took her virginity on their wedding night. She was only ten years old.
Unable to endure the pain and distress any longer, Nujood fled—not for home, but to the courthouse of the capital, paying for a taxi ride with a few precious coins of bread money. When a renowned Yemeni lawyer heard about the young victim, she took on Nujood’s case and fought the archaic system in a country where almost half the girls are married while still under the legal age. Since their unprecedented victory in April 2008, Nujood’s courageous defiance of both Yemeni customs and her own family has attracted a storm of international attention. Her story even incited change in Yemen and other Middle Eastern countries, where underage marriage laws are being increasingly enforced and other child brides have been granted divorces.
Recently honored alongside Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice as one of Glamour magazine’s women of the year, Nujood now tells her full story for the first time. As she guides us from the magical, fragrant streets of the Old City of Sana’a to the cement-block slums and rural villages of this ancient land, her unflinching look at an injustice suffered by all too many girls around the world is at once shocking, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable.
The book is a quick, yet powerful read. While she is definitely a young girl, she is also an extraordinary one. It was encouraging to read about her determination to get herself out of the situation, but also use it to help other girls. She one day hopes to be a lawyer like the one who helped her, so she can help other little girls in her situation. This quote from Nujood’s is pretty insightful for a 10 year old: “Compared to dreams, reality can be truly cruel. But it can also come up with beautiful surprises.”
Women and children’s freedoms and rights around the world (and the US) are something I feel strongly and am passionate about. With stories like Nujood’s, I’m reminded of the small victories I read, but also about all the work that still needs to be done. Sadly slavery and sex trafficking numbers don’t stop, but it needs too. Whenever I have the opportunity, I will use my voice, my platforms to share their story and do what I can to make a difference.
Here’s a couple organizations that are doing incredible work around the world if you are interested in learning more, getting involved, spreading the word or supporting their work.
World Vision – http://www.worldvision.org/
International Justice Mission – http://www.ijm.org/