"My head was spinning. I had never ever seen so many people at one place. It was the front side of a court where many people were coming from different directions. Many of them were wearing the western dress; others were wearing the traditional Yemeni dress. People were crying, they were shouting and talking in loud voices but no one was noticing me. I was a just a kid. Around 10 years old. She took a deep breath and started again. People told me that judges are all good people and are responsible for providing justice. I was also in search of one, I had been wandering around for 3 hours and really tired, I was also wearing a black scarf which was increasing the summer heat. I was also having severe headache and at the same time was nervous. Suddenly a man dressed in white came to me; I thought he might be a judge or lawyer. "
"Excuse me Sir. I want to see a judge. "
"Go that way, see that way up the stairs." He told me without looking at me and hurriedly went away lost in the crowd.
"I went up the stairs and reached a fully furnished room. There were guards outside it and I was afraid they'll catch me thinking I'm someone who has run away from her home. There was a woman in the room and I asked her If I can meet a judge."
"What type of judge you want to meet?" she looked at me in amazement.
"Just take me to a judge, I replied, any judge. "
"Come with me", she said.
"She took me in an other room, it was filled with many people, there was one man sitting on the main chair with many people waiting for their turns. I sat on a chair waiting for mine."
"How may I help you?" I heard these words half asleep. It was such a sweet and caring voice and made me comfortable. The room was almost empty. "
"I want divorce, I replied. "
The story of Nujood Ali is that of a brave girl who stood against the ferocious laws against women. She was eight when her parents arranged a marriage to Faez Ali Thamer who was in his thirties. She belonged to a village in Yemen where women had no rights at all. Her father was a poor man who could not earn much money to support his 16 people family. One day while he was playing cards with his street mates one of them asked him if he wants some help with the family. After talking more they agreed he agreed in no time to marrt Faez to her youngest daughter Nujood. He mother tried best to stop the marriage telling his husband Nujood was too young for marriage.
"What If someone rapes her some day?" he replied. The best way to help our daughter and make her more secure is to marry her.
Nujood was married according to the Yemeni tradition. Her mother advised her to stay covered as she is the "Izzat" of her husband now. The day she entered her new home she new, life had changed. The In laws were not in favor of her studying in school so she was restricted to do so. She missed her school too much. She was not allowed to leave the house after evening prayers, always forced to stay covered in home as well.
"I had to change myself. I was forced not to leave home without permission, I was not allowed to talk with anyone, I was not allowed to say NO at anything, I had to cut vegetables, cook food, wash utensils, and everything my mother in law wanted me to. When I stopped to take rest, she used to pull my hairs. Once I asked her to let me go play with the kids, but instead of replying she started beating me. My husband always came late at night and without any reason beat me with a stick almost everyday. All my day was passed in fear of getting beaten and I used to cry a lot."
One day while she was visiting her home, her stepmother encouraged and told her the only way she could get rid of her husband and all the beating was to contact a judge. She also gave her some money for that. You've heard the story up till she reached the judge, lets continue with the rest.
"I want divorce, I replied. "
..... "I want divorce, I replied. "
The judge was shocked.
"You want divorce? you mean are you married?!" Judge asked.
"YES, I replied firmly."
Judge asked me a few questions regarding about me and my marriage and what was the reason I wanted a divorce, I told him everything."
"I will help you", he replied. Abdur Rehman was his name. After much thinking he called some one. It was the chief judge Muhammad Laghari.
"My Child, we will help you as much as we can, but remember it will be a tough way ahead and no guarantee that you will win the case." Laghari Said.
Its a long story after that. A famous social worker, lawyer was appointed for Nujood. The case began. The point of conflict was Faez had promised Nujood's father that he won't touch her before she is mature enough, but a total different story was the reality. After some negotiations Faez agreed to divorce Nujood on the condition that her father must pay the girl's price. Faez was proved a lier here as her father told he did not sell her daughter, after all the proofs against Faez, he divorced Nujood.
She is spending a normal life now, enrolled in a school, staying with her family. Many NGO's have been funding her education and she wants to become a lawyer when she grows up. In April 2011, Yemeni parliament passed a law increasing the marriage age of girls to 17. One little girl, brought a change, a big one, saving the life of many perhaps.