Lawyer Nasser: Nujood is under pressure
Written By: Mohammed al-Kibsi & Zaid al-Alaya’a
Article Date: Dec 2, 2008 - 12:09:23 AM
Nujood and her lawyer Shatha accept the Glamour Woman of the Year Award in New York.
In an expected move, the winner of the Glamour Prize for the woman of the year for 2008 Nujood Ali al-Ahdal has announced she is cancelling her representation by lawyer Shatha Nasser. The cancellation was announced by Nujood in the same court in which she divorced her husband several months ago. Ten year old Nujood said her lawyer used her to collect donations from different organizations as well as local and foreign donors, but she had not seen any of the money from these donations.
She said that her lawyer, who accompanied her to New York to receive the Glamour Prize, told her that she had received no money from the prize organizers- not even transportation or pocket money. She said that she has the Glamour contact number, but she can't speak English to verify the truth. Nujood added that she learnt the truth from a foreign woman who had came to her home 8 months ago representing an international organization, saying they would pay her a monthly amount to allow her to live, and provide her with spending money for her living expenses and studies. "This lady told me through a translator that they would give me this aid through my lawyer Shatha Nasser. Shatha has not given me a penny of this aid which she has been collecting from different local and foreign donors until now," said Nojoud. "I go to school and stay the whole day without food because I don’t have money, while my lawyer is spending my money which she receives from charity organizations for herself," said Nojoud. She added that she was exempted from school fees like all other girls in the school, but her lawyer has been announcing that she has been paying for her school. "For this and other reasons, I decided to announce to the press, to donors and to local and international organizations that lawyer Shada Nasser has no connections or relations with me, and that if any organization would like to help me continue my studies they can contact me directly or through the Yemen Observer," said Nojoud.
Nojoud added that her lawyer and her translator as well as human rights activist Iman Mashour used her case to garner fame and make money from international organizations.
She said they threatened her and her family to not ask about money or aid from them, or they will change the focus of the media and international organizations from her to the two other child divorcees- Reem and Arwa. Nujood added that Shatha Nasser had done nothing for her, even during the trial. "Lawyer Shatha Nasser came to the court after I had convinced the judge to provide me with a divorce because the judge sympathized with my unfair and illegal marriage to an old man," said Nojoud. I went to the judge directly, without the help of anyone else and told him I wanted a divorce. The judge asked me "Are you married?" I said yes. He asked me to wait until the end of the court session. When he finished he came to me in his office and heard my story. He then asked Judge Mohammed to take me with him to his home so I could stay with Judge Mohammed's daughters because I went to court on Wednesday, and the courts do not work on Thursday's and Fridays. I stayed in their home util Saturday. Over the weekend, the judge brought my father and ex-husband to the court jail and jailed them until Saturday. On Saturday he started pressuring my ex-husband to divorce me, but my ex insisted on getting his dowry back. During the session Sheikh Naji al-Ghadir was there and he donated 200 thousands Yemeni Rials, from which the judge paid my ex his 50 thousands Yemeni rials to reimburse him for the dowry, and we were divorced. During the session, lawyer Shatha Nasser exploited the situation and asked the judge to accept her as a volunteer lawyer for me. The judge asked me if I accepted her, and I didn’t mind having a volunteer lawyer. But she did nothing or said nothing other than that, said Nujood.
In a phone call with Lawyer Shatha Nasser she said she would not comment on what happened. The only thing she said is “Beware of evil acts from those for whom you have done good.” I still love Nujood as a child, and I am not mad at her because I know she is under pressure from her parents and people surrounding her," said Lawyer Nasser. "I believe that Nujood's father is under pressure from some influential officials," said Nasser.
According to the Yemennews website, Shada Nasser affirmed that the American 'Glamour Magazine' had only awarded Nojoud a title, but had given her no money. However she told the website that the Mercy International Association for female orphans has granted Nujood a financial grant to enable her continue her studies. Nujood said she has not received any money from this or any other organization. "Maybe lawyer Shada and her friend the human rights activist Iman Mashour have been receiving this grant, but I have not," said Nujood. "I learnt that they have been receiving Euro 1300 a month from this association for the past 8 months, but I have received nothing," said Nujood.
Both Nojoud and Shada Nasser had won Glamour Magazine’s Woman of the Year Prize for 2008 along with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in November in New York.
"Together, Nasser and Nujood are committed to saving other little girls from early marriage," Glamour said. The magazine also said it picked Rice for putting "women's issues on the front burner of US foreign policy." The top ten list released on November 10 also included Hillary Clinton, actress Nicole Kidman and Chanel CEO Maureen Chiquet.
Yemen's 10-year-old bride Nujood took a stand in court with human rights lawyer Shada Nasser and was granted a historic divorce. Nujood, however thanked Judge Mohammed, head of the Western Court in the capital Sana'a, who she said should be awarded a prize rather than her lawyer Shada Nasser.
Nujood has 15 brothers and sisters along with her sick father. Her mother and step mother all live from what her younger brothers and sisters beg from people at the gates of mosques. Her younger brothers and sisters beg bread from houses and they pay the rent of their home and bills for electricity and water.
The family receives 2000 Yemeni ryals (US$10) monthly as social security aid from the government. That is their all income.
Nujood announced she will hold a press conference in the coming week to explain the whole story of her divorce and her case with lawyer Nasser.
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