A young Yemini girl shocked the world with her video, showing her bravery while raising awareness for child brides in the Middle East.
“Would it make you happy to marry me off against my will?” asks Nada Al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old girl whose parents were giving her away to be married at her young age, via CNN.
In the video, which went viral, Nada attacks her parents for trying to marry her off for money and says that she doesn’t want to be a child bride. She says that she would rather die.
Nada says this is a common occurrence in Yemen, and she speaks not just for herself but for all the girls who were given away by their parents to be married. “What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong so that you would marry them off like that?” Nada asked.
This video has received some skepticism. Nada’s parents have claimed they were not marrying her off. Even Yemen’s government said that she was lying, but how would they know? They just want to dismiss a vulnerable child.
Child marriage is, unfortunately, deeply rooted in Yemeni culture. Many girls are victims of it. Some young girls have killed themselves to escape the marriages or have suffered death because of childbirth, their bodies being too small.
“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.
She continued on to say, “It is critical that Yemen takes immediate and concrete steps to protect girls from these abuses, including setting a minimum age of marriage.” The Yemeni government claims they enforce a legal age of 17, yet there are still 10 and 11-year-old children who are married off to grown men within their borders.
“It’s common more in the poorer communities,” said Hind Aleryani, a journalist. “There is a proverb, a Yemeni saying: ‘Marry an eight-year-old girl, she’s guaranteed,’ which means the eight-year-old girl is surely a virgin. It’s a disgusting saying and inhumane, but it’s said by everyone, and it’s very well-known.”
As this video demonstrates, the Yemeni culture is being challenged, particularly by the young girls themselves.
Hopefully, with girls continuing to speak out, the Middle East will no longer force children to marry adults. These children want a better life, and they deserve it. My prayers and thoughts are with Nada and all other potential and current child brides.
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