Monday, October 3, 2011

An Absolute Stunner - I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

Author: Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
Publisher/Format:Broadway (2010), Paperback, 188 pages
Subject: arranged marriage, child abuse, women's rights
Setting: Yemen
Genre: memoir
Source: public library

This book left me speechless.  It was recommended by one of my LibraryThing group participants, and when I saw the cover, I was struck by the shy expression on this young lady's face that was so similar to my 10 year old grand-daughter's.

Thank the good lord that my grand-daughter lives in a country that  would never knowingly tolerate the abuse this young woman suffered. At the age of somewhere between 8 and 10 (there are no official birth records in poor villages where babies are born unattended at home), Nujood was married to a man in his 30's.  Her father signed the contract, claiming that the groom promised he would not touch the girl sexually until she reached 13 or puberty.  Ripped from the school and the childhood friends she loved, she was taken miles away to an isolated village, where she was immediately raped by her "husband" with the support and encouragement of his mother and the rest of his family.  For months she begged and pleaded to be left alone, to go back home to her parents (even though her mother had not prepared her at all for what would be involved in "being married" and her father was the one who put her in this position to begin with.)  Finally the husband took her back to visit her parents, where she daringly left home one morning when her mother asked her to go to the corner store, hopped a public bus, then used the bread money to pay a private taxi and asked to be taken to the court.

When she finally came before a judge, and was asked what she wanted, she answered "I want a divorce." The ensuing story of her journey through the legal system, her befriending by a prominent female attorney and ultimate triumph are a tribute to the strength of the human spirit.  Overnight, she became somewhat of a media darling (see for instance articles from the Los Angeles Times). Her life has improved, and she hopes by telling her story that other women will never have to suffer the trauma she went through.  She is back in school now and says she wants to become a lawyer to help other girls.

The book itself was published awhile ago, and her story may not be front page news in FOX or CNN land anymore, but the story is still compelling.  The writer Delphine Minoui who helped Nujood by putting her words onto paper did a splendid job of capturing the anguish of the young girl without making it a soap opera tear jerker.  It's factual, depressing, but hope filled.  It's short, clear text makes it easy to read in one sitting, but impossible to forget.  It's a must read.


  1. I recall this story when it was big news. Even knowing customs are different in other parts of the world, this was a horrible crime against this poor girl. She is unbelievably courageous and I hope she will become a lawyer and help others avoid such suffering.


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