Thursday, April 17, 2008

8 year old Yemeni child bride gets divorce

This 8-year old girl's face is alight with intelligence:

A Yemeni court has annulled an eight-year-old girl's marriage to a man in his 20s, after she filed for divorce.

The girl, Nojoud Mohammed Ali, took a taxi to a judge’s office on her own, after running away from her husband.

Lawyer Shatha Nasser told the BBC she heard about Nojoud by chance and instantly decided to represent her.

"Child brides are common in parts of Yemen, but this case received wider attention because it reached court," she said.

Yemen is one of the world's poorest countries.

Although it has no legal minimum age for marriage, the wife is only allowed to live with her husband once she has reached puberty.

Nojoud's unemployed father and husband were also present at the hearing.

The courtroom was packed with members of the press and human rights activists, who are using the case to highlight the need for more child protection in Yemen.

Nojoud told the court she had signed the marriage contract two-and-a-half months ago on the understanding she would stay in her parents' house until she was 18.

"But a week after signing, my mother and father forced me to go and live with him."

This is a big problem also in Iran. Most of these child brides occupy much of the women's prisons in the Islamic Republic of Iran. As these women get older, they end up killing their much much older husbands and find themselves on the death row because they are too poor to buy their freedom by paying the "blood money" (Islamic law) to the family of the husband.

There is a looming execution of such a child bride-- who is much older now-- if she does not come up with enough funds to buy her freedom. The convicted murderer of her 74-year-old husband, the 32-year-old Akram Mahdavi, is on the death row because she does not have the financial privilege to pay off the requested ransom. She killed her husband after a second arranged marriage was forced upon her by her family. Women’s rights’ activists describe her case as a very typical example of arranged marriages of teenagers to old men (her first husband was forty years older than her). Akram has a 17-year-old daughter from her first marriage (more information in Persian).

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This Sharia law blatantly favors the rich and the wealthy.

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