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8-Year-Old Bride Escapes Husband, Gets Annulment

If it takes three stories to make a trend, here's your third with an arguably happy ending.

Nojoud, an 8-year-old Yemeni girl forced to marry a man in his 20s, took her destiny into her own hands. She ran away from her husband, and took a taxi to a judge's office. Luckily for her, the forward-thinking judge granted her an annulment. Nojoud is living safely with her uncle, and looking forward to going back to school.

Economic conditions are dire in Yemen, which borders Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. Marriage laws are murky — there is no minimum age for marriage, but child brides are not allowed to live with their husbands until they reach puberty. To see what happened in this case,


Nojoud signed the marriage contract with the expectation that she would live with her parents, until she reached 18. Instead she was forced to consummate the marriage, and live with the man. Her father had arranged the marriage, after threats from the husband's entourage. Her older sister had been kidnapped and forced to marry her kidnapper.

Considering that Nojoud's tragic co-habitation and consummation were against Yemen law, how do you feel about Yemen's legal version of child marriage, which requires a girl to reach puberty before sexual relations begin? Is it hard for Western societies to accept a conception of marriage, which resembles a business transaction void of romance?


Join The Conversation
snowysakurasky snowysakurasky 9 years
off topic, but i did a search on the disgusting story that Zeze mentioned, and i believe that this is it. (but it says he was actually trying to have sex with a five year old, not a two year old, so there may be two sicko Florida attourneys? God bless the detectives who get these creeps behind bars
dootsie dootsie 9 years
I imagine that the real tragedy of this story hasn't even begun. She is going to be labeled as unwanted as a bride because she's not a virgin.
Jillness Jillness 9 years
"Why don't NOW or other Pro-Feminist Groups protest the mistreatment of women in Islamic Countries? Or do they secretly agree with the Koran that women are property of men?" They do work against the mistreatment of women world wide. There are many American women's organizations working against this and female genital mutilation. How could you possible suggest that NOW would agree that women are the property of men? What would make you suggest that? It just seems to come out of nowhere to me.
meenalaregina meenalaregina 9 years
Hello Citizen Sugar: I am disturbed by your final sentence, "Is it hard for Western societies to accept a conception of marriage, which resembles a business transaction void of romance?" It implies that the norma has been all marriages in the west are based on love and mutual consent. In fact, in "modern" western countries, well into the 20th century, women were chattel, with no legal personality of their own. Their marriages were arranged and they could not consent to a marriage without their father or warden's consent. The issue is that marriage brings with it a property regime, and to avoid having your family's property subsumed into another's, women were controlled. In agrarian/poorer economies, marriage is still what we westerners would dub a commercial transaction. People who are poor do not have the luxury to explore their feelings; they need to obtain the basics of food, clothing and shelter. Marriage is a vehicle through which families ensure that their daughters are cared for and at the same time they lighten their financial burden. It might sound cold but when you are faced with an empty stomach, these social constructs seem quite peachy. Also, I am disturbed that you have not taken the time to review Yemeni laws on marriage. It is quite possible that the judge was not so much forward thinking as he was upholding the law of this country, i.e. he was doing his job. The fact that you agree with what was done does not make the judge modern. Please, given the level of misinformation that is circulating about Islamic countries, take care to present the full story, instead of judging a country and culture of which you appear to have no knowledge. Thanks, Meena
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
I don't think that there's anything wrong with having marriage as a business decision. That's the way that things were done for hundreds of years and people did have more satisfied lives that way overall. The concept of marrying for love is very new and has not proven successful for long-term marriage. Now this is what I have heard for years throughout school and I believe it. Nowadays people do whatever they want because they feel they "deserve" it. Sometimes you just hafta bite the bullet and deal with it. People will spend thousands on plastic surgery or luxury vacations and even end up cheating on their spouses because they "deserve" better. For example, my grandma was from the old school with regards to marriage. Her family had had money but there was difficulties after her father passed, and she ended up getting married young(although a respectable age, compared with this young girl's story, maybe 18-20) because it was best for her family. My grandma did not marry for "love" but her marriage lasted very long and all was well because the focus was on the children and taking care of them and not how much they loved each other. Their love for each other was based on their love for their children. Things worked out well that way. But I applaud this young girl. She was very brave to do what she did. And Yemeni law seems very fair. They are protecting the children by not letting them be subjected to any possible abuse until an age where they are fully able to consent or refuse to marriage.
Meike Meike 9 years
Bravo for her, though it's sad that success stories like this are rare. As for us with Western standards, it really isn't about whether we can accept such an outdated norm. It's a question of whether we can accept a human's personal rights violated. If a young 8 year-old girl doesn't want to be married to an older man, she should be allowed to make that decision for herself despite Yemen's marriage laws. She was coerced into marriage, pretty much sold to the highest bidder. I fail to see where women and children can be considered 'property'.
zeze zeze 9 years
Auntie Coosa can we please back up our information before we post these stories, and put them in perspective. 1 - child brides were a common thing during Byzantine Empire era 2 - this isn't specific to Islam, many texts claim the virgin Mary was married to Joseph at 12 years old. 3 - Not all texts are correct, so who really know how old the wife was, its not like you can look up a birth certificate, in this day and age and some older people have no records and don't know their birth years. 4 - this was common place back then because the life span was less than 40 or so (I am not 100% on the exact number, it might be even less). 4 - Its is completely wrong to claim Islam treats women as property. I won't doubt that some cultures engage in misogynistic behaviors, but this has little to do with the religion and more to do with ancient practices of uneducated, primitive societies. 5 - As late as the 1800s, possibly the 1900s, western law allowed for a man to sue a man who slept with his wife for tress pass to chattels (property). 6 - A law in Islam states women may not take her husband's name because she retains her identity in marriage and she is judges for her actions at death - I don't think property would retain its identity or be judged. These offensive and blanket statements are childish, ignorant, and sad.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Auntie Coosa, Thank you. Heartbreaking to read that. We had a family friend who married an Arabic man still follow the Koran. She said she read the whole thing. Nowhere in there does it say that a woman has to cover her face/head. She then found out that it was a king who made it law because he didn't like men looking at his wife. I try to study religions but I'm definately not educated in the muslim religion.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I think Cines point still applies though.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
I'm talking about people (above comment) who want to live in this safe sheltered bubble, and not know. That makes me crazy.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
OH my gosh Zeze! I have read about that sort of thing numerous times and it's almost unreal how we still are talking about it like it is unheard of. I'm meaning all of us the media, everyone. Where I live I only get cable news I don't get any local channels. So for me, I have to read about local stuff I have to get it from the paper, or other locals. Funny thing is, a lot of people say they don't want to watch the news because "it is so sad". "They are so negative all the time". While I understand about issues where things seem one sided about things the war, etc. And maybe that is what they are talking about. But the other things that we really need to be paying attention to. What is going on in the world as far as danger to our children etc. I want to shake them. You have to know what's happening around you.
Auntie-Coosa Auntie-Coosa 9 years
Yemen is a Muslim Country under Sharia Law. The Koran allows child marriage as long as the marriage isn't consummated until the child has one menstrual period. Mohammad married his last wife when she was nine. She was the child of his best friend. His best friend couldn't believe Allah would allow Muhammad to take such a young child for a bride. Muhammad went to Allah who assured him that in his case, it was approved. Then it got written up as being approved for older Muslim men to marry young children if the marriage wasn't consummated until the girl became a "woman" so to speak. I'm glad the child was given the divorce. Her father had to pay the groom $250. The judge decreed it with no reason given. "Loss of Property" probably. Women are not treated well in the Middle East in Islamic households. Why don't NOW or other Pro-Feminist Groups protest the mistreatment of women in Islamic Countries? Or do they secretly agree with the Koran that women are property of men?
IslandGirl IslandGirl 9 years
This whole story is so sad. One of the parts that really drove it home for me in that article is at the end when her uncle states that she is looking forward to going back to primary school. PRIMARY SCHOOL! My gosh, children should not be subjected to these sorts of things no matter what culture or part of the world you come from. And I think LibertySugar made the point about the economic conditions of Yemen because there was just a post about young brides being bargained off for food in Afghanistan, and maybe she wanted to show what dire economic conditions can lead some people to do. (I am fully aware that Afghanistan and Yemen are two totally different countries, but I'm just speculating/drawing a comparison). In any event, I'm happy that she managed to get away, but saddened that there are countless others who may not be as lucky as she is.
zeze zeze 9 years
I agree harstfull, I was answering Cine's question regarding this being more acceptable b/c of the religion. But I see your point exactly, living in middle class subs in the US and it's still amazing just how sheltered we are, I remember telling my mom about the case of the FL prosecutor getting caught by undercover agents after he made plans with them on the Internet thinking they were a mom selling her TWO YEAR OLD daughter to him to have sex with, for something like $5000! She would not believe it, she was like, "no way, why would a grown man want sex with a baby, that's too unrealistic."
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
The other point I meant to make and more so, it is often the more prosperous communities that encourage and partisipate in these things. They just don't do it in their nice lovely nieghborhoods.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Zeze, your point is well made. I don't think anyone would disagree with that. I guess I shouldn't speak for all. I think most people realize that in any religion there are extremes. I think that most people, are torn up about the fact that it is still happening. Even for those who know it's been happening for a very long time. I think that it doesn't matter if its rural or not it's still sick and discusting and I think people want to do something but a lot of times they aren't sure what to do or how. And anywhere in the world prosperous communities are hidden a lot from the harsh realities of the rest of the world. I mean they are often sheltered. Or, even ignoring. I definately am not putting all prosperous people or communities in a 'callus' bag though.
zeze zeze 9 years
There is a real big misconception about Islam and women, I believe. The thing is, these stories come from rural, poor, uneducated families (who probably follow Islam by tradition/culture - thus in name only) most likely they can't even read the Quran (and I am talking through out many generations here, not just one person. You will almost never find these stories among prosperous communities. Education is especially important, the more people follow intellectual religious interpretations the more liberal they are, the issue is with these ancient traditions that existed even before religion, which people have mixed into religion by some means.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Wow. Thanks for sharing your family history, hypno. Fascinating.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Yes it's hard for Western societies to accept a conception of marriage which resembles a business transaction. It's funny how we don't here about the U.S. pressure on our allies that practice such traditions pushing for greater human rights. My maternal grandfather Spanish born rode into Vera Cruz Mexico with a bunch of gangsters around 1914 burned part of the town down including part of the monastery where my 13yr. old orphaned grandmother lived. Kidnapped her got married and had 10 children. The ninth being my mother.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
That more than one post keeps happeing to me. I swear I'm not doing that on purpose. It also keep over scrolling. And sometimes it will go back to the previous screen. If I seem like I'm getting angry, it my stupid computer guys.
hartsfull hartsfull 9 years
Has anyone seen the Movie water? It's about all of this. The movie takes place in 1938 (or 39?). Deepa Mehta is the director. It is really sad. It's a beautiful cinematogrophy though.
kia kia 9 years
This little girl got lucky that she had an understanding judge and some place to go since she couldn't rely on her parents to help her.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
NYF, I was not really saying that the age of the child being married off is for religious reasons, but maybe to them it is not as big of an issue because they do not regard women in the same manner as men.
NYFashionista NYFashionista 9 years
"Also, is it just the culture that treats females like this, or is it also a religious influence?" I think it has to do with economic conditions. You won't find this happening too often (if ever really) in prosperous nations. Although you WILL find sexual abuse of minors everywhere- and since that occurs everywhere, we can't blame it on religious influences.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Rac I was not arguing with you. I was just posing some questions to think about. But for the sake of the community, I will say, "Rac! You have a point!"
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