Nojoud, 8, gets divorce granted after forced marriage

A Yemeni court on Tuesday granted a divorce to an eight-year-old girl whose unemployed father forced her into an arranged marriage this year, saying he feared she might be kidnapped.”I am happy that I am divorced now. I will be able to go back to school,” Nojud Mohammed Ali said, after a public hearing in Sanaa’s court of first instance.

Her former husband, 28-year-old Faez Ali Thameur, said he married the child “with her consent and that of her parents” but that he did not object to her divorce petition.

In response to a question from Judge Mohammed al-Qadhi, he acknowledged that the “marriage was consummated, but I did not beat her.”

Yemen, one of the world’s poorest countries, has no law governing the minimum age of marriage.

Nojud was a second grader in primary school when the marriage took place two and a half months ago.

“They asked me to sign the marriage contract and remain in my father’s house until I was 18. But a week after signing, my father and my mother forced me to go live with him.”

Nojud’s father, Mohammad Ali Al-Ahdal, said he had felt obliged to marry off his daughter, an act he claims she consented to.

He said he was frightened after his oldest daughter had been kidnapped several years ago and later married to her abductor. He said the same man then kidnapped another of his daughters who was already married and had four children, resulting in him being jailed.

Dressed in traditional black, Nojud said she would now go to live in the home of her maternal uncle and did not want to see her father.

The girl’s lawyer, Shadha Nasser, said Nojud’s case was not unique. “I believe there are thousands of similar cases,” she said, adding that civil society groups are pressing parliament to set the minimum age for marriage at 18.

Although this will not right the abuse against her it has put a stop to it. I hope others in her position can learn from her example to stand up for their own rights.

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One Response

  1. 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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