Sunday, April 20, 2008

Child Brides in Yemen

In Yemen an 8-year old girl is filing for divorce from her 50 year old "husband."

"Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him."

Nujood Ali is a child in a very adult world. Nujood's father forced her to marry
Faez Ali Thamer two months ago and since then she has suffered daily rape and beatings at her "husband's" hands. And she is refusing to take it anymore; after pleading with her reluctant mother, father, and extended family to help her leave the marriage, she filed for divorce, alone, from Thamer.

However, under Sharia law, which governs most Muslim nations, women can only divorce their husbands if he is, "i
nfertile at the time of marriage; insane; or has leprosy or another contagious skin disease." Because of this, Nujood has no legal standing in Yemen courts. She will most likely lose her case.

I could not find any information on a minimum age for marriage in Yemen; there probably isn't one.

Nujood Ali is so incredibly brave. She has my greatest admiration and hopes. How can we, those so far from her world, help her and other child brides? Does anyone have any ideas?


Goose said...

How about introducing democracy, freedom, and civil rights for all citizens to the middle east. Oh wait... we as a nation are trying, and being undermined by those on the left.

Jen said...

Pedophilia knows no borders. From the recent bust all over the American news to stories like these, I think something in the sexiness of youth and submission draws deviant men of all ethnicities to children.

Amelia said...

Also, "Goose" I think it's wrong to assume that American "democracy" is the right answer all the time. In Iraq, we're supposedly helping free women, bombing them. I don't really feel that your ideas of "introducing democracy, freedom, and civil rights" will really accomplish anything (IMHO).

Kate said...

I agree with Amelia. And in America we don't "introduce" democracy, we imperialize democracy.

Anonymous said...

Goose, under the ideals of democracy, those ruled choose in what manner they wish to be ruled. Forcing democracy is a philosophical conundrum. The people of the Middle East will have to internally decide they've had enough theocratic rule themselves. They will some day have their own Enlightenment and by their own merit and self-determination, will they assemble democratic rule. No one can make them take it.

Furthermore I think you have taken a rather dangerous step. Your train of thought implies that you believe that this act is justification to condemn millions of people in a region to death and suffering (as the 2003 invasion has cost some hundred thousand Iraqi's their lives [1] and Iraq has populous neighbors such as Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Yemen and Saudi Arabia).
It's to easy to lump all the people together; the ethnocentric view is to see brown skinned people who follow some form of the teachings of the Qua'ran.
In reality there are Arabs, Persains, Kurds, Turks, Tajiks, Kyrghiz, Punjabis, Kazahks, Armenians, and many many others all of whom identify themselves and their people as independently as we would catagorize the Russians, Germans, French and English. While it is easy to transfer the wrongs of several people in one group, and apply them to the whole region it is wrong.

Also regarding the Middle East, I believe that the focus of our efforts as free people should be on human rights, in general. I make no accusations here, I believe all the young women who contribute to this blog are compassionate informed individuals, but there are those out there who carry the same banner for women's rights, who forget that people in that region are suffering regardless of sex and gender.


Kate said...

The Female Impersonators are advocates of human rights for all, fully and indefinately. However, this is a feminist blog, so we do emphasis the suffering of women. We do not mean to negate the horror of living without rights, no matter gender, but write to highlight the plight of a certain group.

Anonymous said...

Oh I understand, and I did not mean to undermine; sorry if I came off this way. I certainly feel that you Aimee and Lindsey (sorry if I missed any others) seem well informed on human rights. I just wanted to make my feelings known about individuals who embrace bandwagon politics and in doing so, miss the point regarding human rights abuses.

Jewaira said...

To correct some facts:

* The husband of Nujood Ali was close to 30 years old not 50.

* Nujood Ali's marriage was annulled by the court. She now lives in the care of her maternal uncle (her choice)

* Some people donated money towards costs and other money was put in a bank account for Nujood's own use towards her education.

* Nujood's case was taken on by a sympathetic judge and a human rights activist lawyer Shatha Nasser

* According to Wikipedia entry on Marriageable age:

"Yemen: 9 ("In 1999, the minimum marriage age of fifteen for women, rarely enforced, was abolished; the onset of puberty, interpreted to be at the age of nine, was set as a requirement for consummation of marriage"

Activists are working to raise the age to 18.

* Appeals can be sent to addresses here:

Sociology Major said...

I'm in a cultural anthropology class right now, and in all of the different cultures we studied, women were married as soon as they reached puberty. More often than not, the husband would only be 10-15 years older than the wife, but there are exceptions. However this case of an 8 year old wife and 50 year old husband (or 30, as later clarified) is extremely rare, and that's the only reason it got anyone's attention.

Furthermore, the case against such young marriage ages in other countries is largely ethnocentric (which means members of a cultural group tend to think that their norms are right and those which are different or wrong in their own society should be wrong in other societies as well). In lesser developed countries, there is a strong emphasis on having many children. Because of this, it makes sense for them to think it's ok to start having children as soon as possible. Fifteen is not a bad age to start having children, because the girl is developed enough at that time for giving birth to not harm her or the child. If you step back and try to look at this culture without having the bias of our own culture, you'll realize that it isn't all that bad, and that there are problems with our society's approach to getting married and having children. They probably think us Americans are crazy for having children so late in our lives, because fertility gradually decreases with age and the risk of birth defects increases with age.

As for the divorce, from what I've studied of Islamic societies, divorce is possible for a woman, but there is almost no chance for her to be able to get married again because she is "used merchandise".

I'm not saying that this 8 year old girl's situation is not sad and upsetting. I'm saying that because of stories like this, people get a distorted idea as to what really goes on in those countries where these things happen. This is NOT a common example of a marriage, this is a worse-case example of marriage. Just because this one girl had a horrible marriage arrangement does not mean that all marriages in Islamic countries are bad.