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YEMEN - Nojoud al-Ahdal, the former child bride that made headlines back in 2008 for demanding a divorce from her 30-year-old ex-husband, leads a fight to help 12-year-old Sally al-Sabahi divorce her 21-year old husband. Nojoud al-Ahdal announced that she will be donating YR 100,000 for this cause.
Nojoud felt sad that no one had make efforts to help Sally divorce her husband. Nojoud expects to receive compensation from the French publishing company that published her biography and the challenges she faced during her early marriage and divorce. The money she is donating will go for half of the YR 200,000 dowry the husband paid for the girl, buying back her freedom.
Sally intends to file a divorce case against her husband, but she said her parents are so poor so they cannot pay back the YR 200,000 dowry to her husband.
Sally got married to her husband 2 years ago. “I felt happy that I would get married and have new dresses and toys to play with and have money, however I was surprised when my husband asked me to sleep with him on the evening after the wedding party. I told him that was shame,” she said.
Her husband raped her because he believed she was his wife and she had to obey him. He believed he had legal rights to have non-restricted intercourse with his wife, no matter her age.
Sally said she was horrified and was in horrible pain, so she cried and ran away from his room. “When I ran out of the room I found my mother-in-law (and aunt as well) in the hall. She forced me back into the bedroom, yelled at me and told me it was natural to make love with my husband, ” said Sally. She added that there was going to be no phone to call her father, mother or brother to complain.
Ten days after her marriage, she came back from Hajjah city to her parents’ home in Sana’a, where she complained to her parents about the sexual abuse. They told her that it was normal.
Her father said that according to the Yemeni traditions, having intercourse with a young bride was normal, however he said that his daughter’s husband failed to treat her nicely. “It seems he scared her the first night and that’s why she got horrified and now is suffering from a sex complex,” said the father.
The husband, Sally’s cousin from her mother’s side, his parents, and the bride’s father all used to give Sally pain killer tablets and other drugs to make her sleep, so as her husband can sleep with her.
However Sally did not sleep. “I would hit my head with glass bottles so as to not sleep and lie awake all night long,” Sally recounts.
The parents of Sally and her husband agreed that Sally could stay in her parents’ home for a year or two until she grows up and starts to like her husband. The husband and his parents came back to Sana’a two weeks ago, wanting to take Sally with them to her husband’s home in Hajjah province.
When Sally knew they came to Sana’a, she stopped eating for three days and had psychological problems. “I don’t want him. I don’t want a husband,” said cried Sally. Now Sally is suffering from mental instability and psychological problems. When talking to men, her eyes twitch erradically.
Nojoud said that it is a shame on the whole society to keep silent of a rape crime. “Please free Sally from this unfair marriage and let her go back to play with her friends, brothers and sisters,” protested Sally.
“We are not toys. We are children,” said Nojoud.
Human Rights Lawyer, Shatha Nasser, expressed her willingness to be Sally’s lawyer and said she would meet with Sally and her father in the Eastern court of Sana’a, so as to start the process of filing a divorce case to free Sally of this unfair marriage. Shatha Nasser was the lawyer of Nojoud and other child brides.
This story is to be continued.