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Hind Al-Eryani

Nada escapes child marriage

Nada from Yemen is a very lucky girl

A video, posted on YouTube, shows an 11-year-old Yemeni girl called Nada al-Ahdal recounting how she escaped her parents who wanted to force her to marry. Nada comes from a modest family and is one of eight siblings. Fortunately for her, her uncle Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, a montage and graphics technician in a TV station, decided to take her in when she was three years old, to live with him and his aging mother, away from her parents.

 

Nada was not an only child at home. Her uncle had also taken his other nephew under his wing, as the boy’s own father couldn’t afford his son’s medical requirements. Abdel Salam was thus responsible for bringing up two children. He personally took care of keeping them, and his frail mother, clean and well-fed.

 

Nada grew up in this caring environment, went to school, and learned English during the summer vacation. She has her own Facebook page, was a gifted singer, and took part in musicals. However, her happiness was cut short when someone came to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. The man, a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia, did not care about the girl’s age. Her parents were happy because the prospective groom worked abroad and was rich.

 

Abdel Salam tells NOW: “When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’ I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.”

 

The groom recanted the engagement and told the girl’s parents he did not want their daughter anymore. Nada’s parents, looking forward to a hefty bride price, were disappointed.

 

Nada had an 18 year-old sister who had been engaged many times. Her parents accepted each new proposal and took a partial downpayment for a bride price. They would then postpone the marriage until the groom had enough money, eventually ending each engagement, not returning the money. The same story would start all over again with another suitor, and so it was that she had had nine fiancés.

 

After Abdel Salam succeeded in warding off Nada’s first husband-to-be, her parents came from Zubaid on a visit to Sana’a and asked for their daughter to stay with them until mid-Ramadan. Abdel Salam agreed only to learn from the parents days later that Nada had disappeared.

 

At one point Nada escaped and tried to return to her uncle. When she got back to Sana'a, she was scared he would take her back to her mother. He found out afterwards that Nada’s mother wanted to marry her off again but did not tell him as she feared he would “scare away” the suitor as he had done the first time around.

 

Abdel Salam took Nada and went to the Ministry of the Interior’s family protection department. He explained to them what had happened and they carried out investigations with Nada, her uncle, and her parents. They discovered that there had been no kidnapping and that the parents wanted to marry their daughter against her will. The case ended with Nada’s father apologizing for fear of being sentenced for wrongful accusations and saying that he trusted his brother with bringing up his daughter.

 

In a message sent to NOW, Nada addressed every mother and father seeking to marry off their daughters, saying: “I am a child and I want to realize my dreams. My aunt was forced to get married so she burned herself to death, and I saw pictures of her with burns. Let me realize my dream. I want to go to school, become a star, and help other children. I am not thinking about marriage, I don’t want to now. I want to say to fathers and mother, ‘let us realize our dreams, do not kill them’.”

 

This article has been translated from the original Arabic.

Nada from Yemen is a very lucky girl. (Image via Nada al-Ahdal)

"'I want to say to fathers and mother, ‘let us realize our dreams, do not kill them’.”

  • goscuter1

    I have been offered many prepubescent girls by those looking to sell children (some as young as 6 or 7) and without exception, it was either the mother or an aunt selling a daughter or niece. I notice a universal tendency to overlook the mother's role in religious and misogynist crimes against children (or other women deemed a threat to the institution of marriage). This needs to change.

    July 28, 2013

  • rebeccafp

    Wow. A few of the comments here are really racist. I hope you guys try to work on that.

    July 25, 2013

  • Precious Pearl

    Yes, with good men like Abdel Salam, there is yet hope for girls in Nada's situation. More articles of this nature must be highlighted so that mind-sets can change. Men who marry child bride must be made ashamed of themselves, as see themselves as the kind of lechers they really are!!!

    July 25, 2013

  • binyamin

    "Early marriage fears of Nada Al-Ahdal are fabricated" Source : http://yemenpost.net/Detail123456789.aspx?ID=3&SubID=7048 Video evidence : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLcTFXbwZ0Q

    July 25, 2013

  • Teffie123

    I agree with the commenters who applaud the uncle. It's important to recognize that although this type of marrying off is a feature of a male-dominated barbaric culture, there are men within it with a sound mind, a kind heart and a sense of reason. It's people like this little girl and that uncle, willing to fight for what's right, that are going to change things.

    July 24, 2013

  • Brooksw1946

    So happy that she escaped, but so sorry she had to resort to such methods in the first place. May God help her and many others in fulfilling their dreams

    July 24, 2013

  • Meems84

    Her uncle has done a good job raising her that she is so confident when she is being wronged and won't silently give in. God bless the uncle and provide for this little girl to realize her dreams in a safe and happy environment. May God protect the helpless and change the heart of quiet bystanders to take action and protect the feeble & helpless.

    July 24, 2013

  • Eva Maria Nieves

    Un maravilloso testimonio de la valentía de una pequeña y su tío, un hombre yemení que tuvo el valor de respaldarla y apoyarla al enfrentarse no sólo a su familia, sino a toda una (equivocada) forma de vida. NADA, YOU´RE SUCH A BRAVE GIRL! May all your dreams come true and your actions become a guiding light for others. Blessings to you and your extraordinary uncle!

    July 24, 2013

  • e.nicole.daniels

    And bless her uncle, a Arabic man actually standing up for a female, there is hope for the world yet!!!

    July 24, 2013

  • MarP

    I'm incredibly glad she managed to escape that fate, but I feel horrible because there are too many girls who can't escape child marriage and desperately need someone to help them.

    July 24, 2013

  • veronica.noyce

    This little girl did a very brave thing, and the shame is, she shouldn't have to...no amount of money should be accepted in place of the life and welfare of a child. She is a smart one, and took action, and I applaud her. She should count herself as a revolutionary, along with Malala and all the girls and children that are learning to say "no" in order to follow their dreams. No matter one's religion and traditions, this is the 21st Century, and the world of tomorrow belongs to our children today.

    July 24, 2013

  • susan.hicks.330

    Such a brave girl, and what a fine man her uncle is.

    July 23, 2013

  • RogueFiccer

    Thank God for her uncle and that Nada is a strong girl who spoke out against child marriage and posted her words to YouTube for the world to hear. This needs to stop!

    July 23, 2013

  • sarahm53

    I want to comment on her amazing uncle, Abdel Salam! If all children had such an advocate, things would be very different for humanity.

    July 23, 2013

  • patricia.caldwell3

    my heart broke when i read her story..but now i will say..be strong nada, and may all your dreams be fufilled.

    July 23, 2013

  • MaryPeace

    Young ladies like this brave girl and the teenager in Pakistan should inspire us to all work towards peace and safety, regardless of our religion or countries.

    July 23, 2013

  • Socal515

    God almighty! Imagine this???? What is wrong with the world??? Nada, bless you always and you are a beautiful guiding light for all children of the world!

    July 22, 2013

  • Rezsia

    Blessings upon this young child and may she always have the support of the righteous against those who would harm her.

    July 22, 2013