the first time in Yemen
8-year-old girl asks for divorce in court
Nasser YT Photo by Hamed Thabet
SANA’A, April 9 - An
eight-year-old girl decided last week to go the Sana’a West Court to prosecute
her father, who forced her to marry a 30-year-old man.
Nojoud Muhammed Nasser arrived at court by herself on Wednesday, April 2,
looking for a judge to handle her case against her father, Muhammed Nasser, who
forced her two months ago to marry Faez Ali Thamer, a man 22 years her senior.
The child also asked for a divorce, accusing her husband of sexual and domestic
According to Yemeni law, Nojoud cannot prosecute, as she is underage. However,
court judge Muhammed Al-Qathi heard her complaint and subsequently ordered the
arrests of both her father and husband.
“My father beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I
would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me. I
refused but I couldn’t stop the marriage,” Nojoud Nasser told the Yemen Times.
“I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced.
They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by
yourself.’ So this is what I have done,” she said.
Nasser said that she was exposed to sexual abuse and domestic violence by her
husband. “He used to do bad things to me, and I had no idea as to what a
marriage is. I would run from one room to another in order to escape, but in
the end he would catch me and beat me and then continued to do what he wanted.
I cried so much but no one listened to me. One day I ran away from him and came
to the court and talked to them.”
“Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the
bedroom with him. This lasted for two months," added Nasser . "He was
too tough with me, and whenever I asked him for mercy, he beat me and slapped
me and then used me. I just want to have a respectful life and divorce him.”
Nasser ’s uncle, who does not want to reveal his name, is following the case
now as her guardian. According to her uncle, after Muhammed Nasser, the girl's
father, lost his job as a garbage truck driver in Hajjah, he became a beggar,
and soon after suffered from mental problems.
Thamer is in jail now. “Yes I was intimate with her, but I have done nothing
wrong, as she is my wife and I have the right and no one can stop me," he
said. "But if
husband YT Photo by Hamed Thabet
the judge or other people insist
that I divorce her, I will do it, it’s ok.”
So far, no accusations have been made against her father, who was later
released due to health problems, or Nasser 's husband, who will remain in jail
for further investigation.
“So far there is no case and no charges, as Nojoud arrived by herself to court
asking just for a divorce,“ said Shatha Ali Nasser, a lawyer in the Supreme
Court who is following Nojoud Nasser’s story.
Shatha Ali Nasser confirmed that item number 15 in Yemeni civil law reads that
“no girl or boy can get married before the age of 15." However, this item
was amended in 1998 so parents could make a contract of marriage between their
children even if they are under the age of 15. But the husband cannot be
intimate with her until she is ready or mature,” said Nasser .“This law is
highly dangerous because it brings an end to a young girl’s happiness and
future fruitful life. Nojoud did not get married, but she was raped by a
30-year old man.”
Nasser confirmed that Nojoud Nasser’s case is not the first of its kind in
Yemen , but it is the first time that a girl went to court by herself to ask
for a divorce.
“We are not planning to return Nojoud to her family. Who knows? Maybe after a
few years the same thing will happen to her again," said Shatha Ali
Nasser. "We are planning to put her in Dar Al-Rahama [an non-governmental
organization that works with children], where she can have a better life and
education. We do not want her family to pay her expenses, as they are poor.”
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