You know how parents are always worried of what new trend their teenagers will throw at them?Well, the parents of Yemen have a radically different new trend to deal with. The country has managed to successfully get under the nerves of their young teenage girls who have now put their foot down and are filing for divorce!Yes, you read that right.In a country where young girls are forced into marriage and subsequently sexual relationships long before they even hit puberty, the child brides are finally heading to the court to get the marriages annulled.
The source of the strength can be traced down to the crusade of a little girl named Nujood who had been forced into a marriage with her family's thirty-something deliveryman at the age of ten. In her recently published brave autobiography I am Nujood,Age 10 and Divorced, Nujood, now twelve, recalls in horrific details about how her mother failed to voice her disapproval on the match, how her "husband" forced himself on her right after their marriage and how her mother-in-law encouraged her husband to regularly beat her up. When she heard that judges in court could grant divorces, she one day sneaked out of her home, jumped into a taxi and went straight to the courthouse to look for a judge. Soon she became a celebrity of sorts among the Yemeni intellectual circles and eventually won her divorce! Her fame spread so widely that Secretary of State, United States of America, Hillary Clinton addressed her as "one of the greatest women I have ever seen!" (It is safe to say she is the only third grader to have possibly received this honour!). Though initially accused by her family of bringing shame upon them, she is now a lot more loved and respected by her father and brothers for being the chief bread winner of the householder(she supports them with her book royalties)
Nujood's victory encouraged other Yemeni girls to follow suit. Her case was closely followed with that of an eight year old's who had been forcefully married off to man in his 50s to pay off her father's debt.The latest case is that of a twelve year old's who filed for divorce with her thirty year old cousin.Most of these young brides have been taken out of school, brutally raped and beaten up by their husbands, tortured by their in-laws and are too scared to refuse their fathers or go back to their homes for fear of shaming their family.However, the tide has been changing ever since the story of the brutal death of the 12-year old Yemeni girl (which I had mentioned here) hit headlines and brought international attention to the plight of Yemeni girls.
The brave young girls have started a revolution and till now have managed to raise the legal age for marriage to 17. While a lot of work still remains to be done, this change in the mindset of young girls is a much needed progressive change! Hopefully with time they will get what is only their natural right-a childhood.