8-year-old girl asks for divorce in court (Yemen)

Brave Nojoud Muhammed Nasser YT
(Photo by Hamed Thabet)

SANA’A, April 9 – An eight-year-old girl decided last week to go the Sana’a West Court to prosecute her father, who forced her to marry a 30-year-old man.

Nojoud Muhammed Nasser arrived at court by herself on Wednesday, April 2, looking for a judge to handle her case against her father, Muhammed Nasser, who forced her two months ago to marry Faez Ali Thamer, a man 22 years her senior. The child also asked for a divorce, accusing her husband of sexual and domestic abuse.

According to Yemeni law, Nojoud cannot prosecute, as she is underage. However, court judge Muhammed Al-Qathi heard her complaint and subsequently ordered the arrests of both her father and husband.

“My father beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me. I refused but I couldn’t stop the marriage,” Nojoud Nasser told the Yemen Times. “I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced. They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by yourself.’ So this is what I have done,” she said.

Nasser said that she was exposed to sexual abuse and domestic violence by her husband. “He used to do bad things to me, and I had no idea as to what a marriage is. I would run from one room to another in order to escape, but in the end he would catch me and beat me and then continued to do what he wanted. I cried so much but no one listened to me. One day I ran away from him and came to the court and talked to them.”

“Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him. This lasted for two months,” added Nasser. “He was too tough with me, and whenever I asked him for mercy, he beat me and slapped me and then used me. I just want to have a respectful life and divorce him.”

Nasser’s uncle, who does not want to reveal his name, is following the case now as her guardian. According to her uncle, after Muhammed Nasser, the girl’s father, lost his job as a garbage truck driver in Hajjah, he became a beggar, and soon after suffered from mental problems.

Thamer is in jail now. “Yes I was intimate with her, but I have done nothing wrong, as she is my wife and I have the right and no one can stop me,” he said. “But if t

The husband YT Photo by Hamed Thabet

he judge or other people insist that I divorce her, I will do it, it’s ok.”

So far, no accusations have been made against her father, who was later released due to health problems, or Nasser’s husband, who will remain in jail for further investigation.

“So far there is no case and no charges, as Nojoud arrived by herself to court asking just for a divorce,“ said Shatha Ali Nasser, a lawyer in the Supreme Court who is following Nojoud Nasser’s story.

Shatha Ali Nasser confirmed that item number 15 in Yemeni civil law reads that “no girl or boy can get married before the age of 15.” However, this item was amended in 1998 so parents could make a contract of marriage between their children even if they are under the age of 15. But the husband cannot be intimate with her until she is ready or mature,” said Nasser.“This law is highly dangerous because it brings an end to a young girl’s happiness and future fruitful life. Nojoud did not get married, but she was raped by a 30-year old man.”

Nasser confirmed that Nojoud Nasser’s case is not the first of its kind in Yemen, but it is the first time that a girl went to court by herself to ask for a divorce.

“We are not planning to return Nojoud to her family. Who knows? Maybe after a few years the same thing will happen to her again,” said Shatha Ali Nasser. “We are planning to put her in Dar Al-Rahama [an non-governmental organization that works with children], where she can have a better life and education. We do not want her family to pay her expenses, as they are poor.”

Congratulations to this young girl for standing up for herself and her rights as a human.

Article source: Yemen Times

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4 Responses

  1. Thanks for this post.

  2. […] through my Tag surfer, I found a post pointing to a story from Yemen. Are you ready for this? I […]

  3. OH MY GOD, WHAT I READ IS SO SAD.. MAY GOD KEEP YOU HAPPY!!

  4. Present time, child marriage is a curse in the global society. Child marriage is a violation of human rights. In most cases young girls get married off to significantly older men when they are still children. Child marriages must be viewed within a context of force and coercion, involving pressure and emotional blackmail, and children that lack the choice or capacity to give their full consent. Child marriage must therefore always be considered forced marriage because valid consent is absent – and often considered unnecessary. Child marriage is common practice in India, Niger, Bangladesh, Pakistan Guinea, Burkina Faso, Africa and Nepal,where mostly girls are married below the age of 18.
    Child marriage has its own worse effect on the young girls, society, her children and health. Young girls who get married will most likely be forced into having sexual intercourse with their, usually much older, husbands. This has severe negative health consequences as the girl is often not psychologically, physically and sexually mature. Child brides are likely to become pregnant at an early age and there is a strong correlation between the age of a mother and maternal mortality and morbidity. Girls aged 11-13 are five times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than women aged 20-24 and girls aged 15-19 are
    twice as likely to die.

    The above is an extract from Arun Kumar essay “Child Marriage as an Human Rights Issue”. This essay was ranked among the top ten essay in Human Rights Defence’s Essay competition 2008. If you would like to read more, visit: http://www.humanrightsdefence.org

    Yours sincerely,

    Tomas Eric Nordlander
    HumanRightsDefence

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