Child marriage – and divorce – in Yemen

A 10-year-old, Nujood Ali, also granted a divorce

The nine year old child lives with her parents and six brothers and sisters in a humble, two-roomed house overlooking the mosque built by her namesake, Queen Arwa, who ruled Yemen 900 years ago.

She knows nothing of wealth and power but, in her own way, she has helped make history.

Arwa is the youngest of three Yemeni girls who recently went to court complaining they were married against their will and asking for divorce – an astonishing display of defiance that has prompted the government to review its law on early marriage.

Earlier this year, her father announced she was to be married, ignoring her tears of protest. She claims to have forgotten her husband’s name and all she will say about him is that he seemed tall and old.

So why did he sell his daughter to a stranger?

“He gave me $150 and promised another $2,000. I was really in need of money and thought it was a solution for the family,” he explains…

With parliamentary elections next year, President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government may be reluctant to alienate the growing forces of Islamic fundamentalism, so women’s rights campaigners are preparing for a bitter fight. They are concerned that, with the global economic down-turn, more families will be under pressure to sacrifice their young daughters.

Read the details. Sad as they are.

Even considering that many of the freedoms withheld from Arwa are dramatically different from those withheld from others in our own society – freedoms that religious moralists are perfectly willing to decide for the rest of us is what I resent most about crap like this.

I’ll gladly leave you alone – if you leave me alone.

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