11-year-old Yemeni girl in anti-marriage video

Published July 25th, 2013 - 04:47 GMT
Yemeni children dressed in traditional wedding outfits (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Yemeni children dressed in traditional wedding outfits (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Nada Al-Ahdal's resilience, poise and conviction belie her tender years.

She may just be eleven years old, but in Yemen, a country where children are legally allowed to wed at any age, this makes Nada old enough to become someone's wife.

In Yemen, 52 percent of girls are wed before the age of 18. Although the law states that sexual intercourse is forbidden before a child has reached puberty, it is nearly impossible to enforce this in practice.

Upon learning that she was due to get married, little Nada fled her parent's home to her uncle's house for protection. A two minute online video she subsequently made, denouncing the cruelty of a system which plucks children from security into abuse, has since gone viral.

"What about the innocence of chilhood? What have the children done wrong?", she implores, her eyes seemingly searching the camera for any kernel of truth or justice that might ease her distress.

At one point in the video, Nada recounts how her mother's sister, who was married at 14, committed suicide by self-immolation after one year of marriage to a man who regularly beat her with metal chains.

That is the future that Nada fears would await herself if she were to marry.

According to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides. Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.

"I'm better off dead, I'd rather die", proclaims little Nada at the thought of returning to her parents.

Sadly, Nada's case is just one of many. 

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