In what can only be described as a rare touch of common-sense and good news, the еight-year-old I mentioned on the 14th, Nujood Ali, has had her divorce from her 30 year old husband finalised by the court. An anonymous donor paid about US $250 to her husband to divorce her.
Unfortunately, there are many other girls in Yemen in a similar position and the government does not seem to want to put a minimum age for marriage law in place.
Interestingly, here in Saudi Arabia we often hear of news like an 11 year old married to his 10 year old cousin. However, the good news is that at least Nujood is safe at the moment.
As noted in the Yemen Times
On April 15, with support from her lawyer Shatha Mohammed Nasser and Judge Abud Al-Khaleaq Ghowber, Nojoud paid her way out of marriage with YR 100,000 from an anonymous donor in the Emirates and happily became an 8-year-old divorcee.
“This was the first time a girl came to us for a divorce. We are going to do our best to push the parliament to change the marriage law,” said Judge Ghowber.
“I am so happy to be free and I will go back to school and will never think of getting married again,” Nojoud said joyfully. “It is a good feeling to be rid of my husband and his bad treatment.”
There are many early marriages in Yemen with the International Center for Research on Women noting in their 2007 statistics that Yemen is one of 20 developing countries where early marriage is common.
The Yemen Times notes from those reports:
Most women have their first child immediately after their first menstruation cycle and are likely to have a child every 12 months during their reproductive lifespan. Yemen’s fertility rate is extremely high, with an average 6.3 children per each woman, and the country also has some of the highest mother and infant mortality rates worldwide.
According to research on early marriage in Yemen from Oxfam and the United Nations Population Fund, there are severe physical consequences that result from early marriage and subsequent early childbirth such as nutritional anemia, post-partum hemorrhages, obstetric fistula (a disorder that affects the bladder and causes leaking of urine or faeces), plus mother and infant mortality.
The Yemen Times has been pushing for the setting of a minimum age and has been happy to receive support from anywhere. Really, this is something that we should all help in however we can. You can also see more at the International Center for Research n Women.