When she was 10 years old, her parents were pressuring her to marry a 26-year-old. That marriage was never consummated, but a year later they were pressuring her again to marry an older man, so she ran away from home.
“I can’t live with them anymore. What have the children done wrong?” Nada Al-Ahdal asked in a video posted shortly after she fled in 2013. “I would have no life, no education. I’m better off dead. I’d rather die (than get married). They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle. What kind of people threaten their own children? I won’t go back to live with them. They’ve killed my dreams. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, simply criminal.”
Nada fled to the house of her uncle, who took her in and agreed to raise her and make sure she received a good education. Nada filed a police report against her mother in her native Yemen. Her video hit 7 million views in three days, according to Wikipedia.
“I managed to solve my problem, but some children can’t solve their,” she said, according to MEMRI. “They might die, commit suicide or do whatever comes to their mind. Some children decide to throw themselves into the sea. They’re dead now. This is not normal for innocent children.
“My maternal aunt was 14 years old. She lasted one year with her husband, and then she poured gasoline over herself and set herself on fire,” she added. “She died. He would beat her with metal (chains). He would get drunk.”
Her uncle, a technician with a TV channel, filmed the video that went viral.
Yemen — like more than a few Muslim countries — has no minimum marrying age under existing law. According to Girls Not Brides, 15 million underage girls wed around the world, many of them in Indian and in Muslim countries. Mohammad himself married a 6-year-old named Aisha, though their marriage was not consummated until she reached puberty at age 9 or 10, according to historical sources cited by Wikipedia.
Now Nada, who will be 15 in March, is the president of the Nada Institute for Human Rights, which fights against child marriage, child soldiers, and child labor.
“This phenomenon is widespread in Yemen and in the Arab world in general. It’s a great problem which destroys the rights of girls. Child marriage is a heinous crime.”
The culprit behind this inhumane practice, according to Nada, is ignorance and “backwardness” although poverty plays a role because a bride price is usually paid. It is not uncommon to see little girls married off to 60-year-old men.
Nada’s parents have denied her claims they forced her to wed and threatened to kill her if she didn’t obey them. The Yemen Post tried to discredit her version of events, saying it was offensive to Islamic and Yemeni customs.
But the teenager is sticking to her guns. “We need to put an end to these problems as soon as possible,” she said.
Tailoni Jenkins studies at the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica.