Escaped Yemeni Child Bride Tells Her Tale

In impoverished Yemen, the forced marriage of young girls is not an uncommon practice. According to the UK’s Daily Mail, men will pay poor families a “bride price” for their young daughters, so marrying off girls as young as Nada al-Ahdal, 11, happens often. There is also a traditional belief that if girls are married when they are young, they will live away from temptation and will grow up to be obedient wives.

Nada al-Ahdal, however, had no plans to be forced into marriage by her family. She ran away from home to avoid being married to a much older man. Her maternal aunt had been married when she was just 14 and was so miserable with her husband, who used to drink and beat her, that she doused herself in gas and set herself on fire just to escape her own life. Nada made this defiant video — warning her mother, “I’m done with you. You’ve ruined my dreams! — to spread the word about the problem of forced marriage in Yemen. She also threatened that if her family forces her to marry on older man, she will kill herself, too. (The video, which appeared on YouTube on July 8, cannot be verified.)

Yemen once set the minimum marrying age at 15, but revoked the law in the 1990s, saying that parents should determine when their children marry. According to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry, a quarter of girls in Yemen marry before they are 15. [Daily Mail UK]