Nada Al-Ahdal Fights For Her Childhood

Nada Al-Ahdal

Maybe I am the only one but I simply cannot read news stories without somehow envisioning the people in my world.  This is true for all stories.  Young boys become my son or nephew.  Young girls become my niece or my son’s best friend of nearly eight years.  Yes, I do this all the time.
Today I read the story of young Nada Al-Ahdal.  Nada is a young Yemeni girl who made a YouTube video about how she ran away from her parents because they were attempting to marry her off.  The truly sick part is, she’s only eleven.  She’s eleven!
I always strive to respect other countries and their cultures.  I adore the study of cultures but I simply cannot and will not understand the reasoning behind child brides.  There’s something so archaic and wrong about it.  These little girls are fighting for the right to be educated, to be free, and to be children.  That should never be something any little girl has to do.
Nada’s story is not unique, unfortunately.  In the deeply tribal Yemen, the issue of child marriage is extremely complicated.  In 2009, Yemen’s parliament passed legislation raising the minimum age of marriage to seventeen.  However, conservative parliamentarians argued the bill violated Islamic law, which does not stipulate a minimum age of marriage and the bill, therefore, was never signed.  Activist groups and politicians continue to fight the law but leading religious clerics have said restricting the age is un-Islamic.
In 2008, 10-year-old Nujood Ali shocked the world when she went to a court and asked a judge for a divorce.  The trial was highly publicized and in the end she was granted her divorce.  She quickly rose to the status of heroine for the young girls stuck in the Yemen cycle of child brides.
Human Rights Watch reports that more than half of Yemen’s girls are married before the age of 18.  “The consequences of child marriage are devastating and long-lasting — girls are removed from school, their education permanently disrupted, and many suffer chronic health problems as a result of having too many children too soon,” said Liesl Gerntholtz, director of the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch. “It is critical that Yemen takes immediate and concrete steps to protect girls from these abuses, including setting a minimum age of marriage.”
I don’t even need to tell you where I fall on this issue.  I am thinking of my niece and my son’s friend.  Is there any possible way that I could stand by and watch that happen to them?  These little girls should still be playing with Barbies and running around completely clueless to life’s issues.
I will sum the entire thing up, just to show you how sick this all is, with a Yemeni saying: “Marry an 8-year-old girl, she’s guaranteed.”  The sick part is, they believe this.  They believe that a little girl is guaranteed to be a virgin and something about that is absolutely stomach churning.

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