At 11-years-old, Nada Al-Ahdal of Yemen was destined to marry a stranger twice her age through an arrangement made by her estranged parents. Saved at the last minute by her uncle, Nada has since created a video explaining why she would rather kill herself than be married.
Nada is one of eight children and has grown up under the care of her uncle since she was 3 years old. Without her knowledge, Nada’s parents recently arranged a marriage for her with a Yemeni ex-patriot living in Saudi Arabia.
In an interview with online political publication NOW, Nada’s uncle (pictured above) shared, “When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said, ‘Yes, and I agree because she chose it. I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.’”
Nada’s parents immediately demanded their daughter return home to them after the engagement was cancelled, and upon her arrival, arranged for her to be married to another suitor. Nada quickly disappeared and was found by her uncle who has since informed authorities. Nada now currently lives with her uncle and has documented her struggles in a candid video that has since gone viral on YouTube.
Nada is not the first girl in her family to be married off without her consent; her 18-year-old sister is often used as bait to capture the hearts and income of potential suitors. With each engagement, Nada’s parents take a down payment for their daughter’s hand, and right before the wedding, break the engagement and keep the original payment for themselves.
In a study conducted in 2010 by the Social Affair Ministry, more than a quarter of Yemen’s female population will marry before they are 15 years old. In the early 1990s, Yemen attempted to pass a bill to establish a minimum marriage age for girls but it was annulled by parliament on the basis that parents should keep control of their daughters’ marriages.
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