Age 10 and Divorced
by Nujood Ali
with Delphine Minoui
This is a sad and courageous story of a girl from Yemen whose father married her off to a thirty-year-old man. Her village small and isolated, Nujood had left school at an early age, could barely write and didn\’t even know her own age for certain- she was at best guess nine or ten years old when the events in the book happened. She was shocked when one day her father announced that he had married her off- without her consent needless to say- and she was unceremoniously packed into a stranger\’s car to move into her new household. Her new husband had promised to avoid intimacy with her at least until she had gone through puberty, but he didn\’t. When she tried to resist him, she was beaten. When she screamed for help, the other women of the household did nothing. She was no longer allowed to go to school, or play outside, but must work in the kitchen. She was miserable, abused and afraid.
This went on for weeks. And then one day she decided -having been obedient all her life to the men in the family- to say NO. She ran away, found the courthouse, located a judge, and plainly stated that she wanted a divorce. It wasn\’t easy. The judge was in disbelief at first. The proceedings took months. Her own family was angered- said her actions brought shame on them. It was hard to read the reasons her father gave for marrying her away in the first place, and very distressing to learn that her older sisters had also gone through rough times at the hands of men. Nujood stuck up for herself, and eventually moved back to live with her parents, and was able to return to school again. Difficult to imagine what she went through. She was the first child bride to successfully get a divorce in Yemen, and other young girls who had been married against their will, were later able to follow her example. She was swamped with media attention after the court date, but managed to find some normalcy again, to return to her childhood. Very sobering to read from her account, the other ways that women around her suffered silently. I admire such a brave young girl.
Rating: 3/5 188 pages, 2009