On April 15, 2008, Nujood Ali stood in a Yemeni courtroom and pleaded her case for a divorce from a physically, sexually and emotionally abusive husband. At the age of 10, her case caused shock and outrage around the globe. The marriage and subsequent divorce shed light on the old customs in the outskirts of Yemen. Born in the remote Yemeni village of Khardji, Nujood’s story is one of many that go untold each year not only in Yemen, but in countries across the Middle East. Married in exchange for the sum of US $750, her new life quickly becomes a nightmare as she is forced to leave her family and reside with her much older husband whom she does not know.
Her petition for a divorce catapulted her into international spotlight and her story gave hope to thousands of other young girls in other countries in which women are forced to marry at extremely young ages. The Yemeni government raised the legal consenting age for marriage to 17 but outside the major cities the old tradition of young brides is still practiced leaving human organizations with more work to do in reducing or eliminating the system of child exploitation. The belief system in which women are viewed as property extinguishes the dreams and hopes of education, success and freedom that many young women envision in their youth. Her courage is admirable, inspiring and an example that sometimes all it takes is one person to stand up to injustice for others to follow. Nujood’s story has been made into a feature film of the same name as this book. Directed by Khadija Al-Salami and filmed entirely in Yemen, the film was shown at the Dubai International Film Festival and won the award for the Best Fiction Feature. The filmmaker is still looking for a distributor for the picture in the hopes that it will be seen by international audiences. The book however, has been translated in 36 languages and sold in over 15 countries putting her story on the shelves of bookstores worldwide.
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