I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced (Ali)

Author Bio 
Nujood Ali, born in 1998, is a figure of Yemen's fight against forced marriage. At the age of 10, she obtained a divorce, breaking with the tribal tradition.

In November 2008, U.S. women's magazine Glamour designated Nujood Ali and her lawyer Shada Nasser as Women of the Year. Nujood's courage was praised by prominent women including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice. Nujood's lawyer and fellow recipient Nasser, born in 1964, is herself a feminist and specialist in human rights, whose involvement in Nujood's case received much acclaim.

Nujood Ali was only 10 years of age when her parents arranged a marriage to a man in his 30s. Regularly beaten by her in-laws, raped by her husband, she escaped on April 2, 2008, only two months after the wedding. On the advice of the second wife of her father, she went directly to court to seek a divorce. After one half a day of waiting, she was finally noticed by the judge, Mohammed al-għadha who took it upon himself to host her temporarily and had her father and husband taken into custody.

Shada Nasser agreed to defend Nujood. 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 and the first female law office where she built a customer base by offering services to women prisoners.

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

After the trial, Nujood rejoined her family in a suburb of Sana'a. She returned to school in the fall of 2008 with plans to become a lawyer. After the 2009 publication of her memoir, I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, revenues from international sales of the book were supposed to help pay for her schooling, but she didn't attend on a regular basis. Due to subsequent negative press coverage about Yemen, Nujood's passport was confiscated in March 2009 and she was prevented from attending the Women's World Award in Vienna, Austria. Media reports also questioned whether proceeds from the book were making it to the family.

However, as of 2010 the family is living in a new two-story home bought with the help of her French publisher, and running a grocery store on the first floor. Nujood and her younger sister are attending private school full time.

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 the societal problems associated with polygamy and child marriage, saying, "little girls like Nujood may prove more effective than missiles at defeating terrorists." Indeed, publicity surrounding Nujood's case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an 8 year old Saudi girl. (From Wikipedia.)

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