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Monday, August 22, 2011

GRANDMOTHER'S LIBRARY: "I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced" by Nujood Ali

When I think of arranged marriages, I think of loving father's trying to do best for their children. I think of Sleeping Beauty and how she is promised to Prince Charming.  I often think it would be wonderful if I could pick the husbands for my daughters!   And, I am sure that there ARE wonderful fairy tale endings. I picture the act of children being 'betrothed' or 'married' as more of a 'promise' to get together as adults. They would still continue to live at home, but grow up knowing they are promised.  I like to dream of a picture perfect world.

 I cannot imagine hurting children because I think they are life's greatest treasures. I think my children are my greatest asset -- I am greatly blessed because of my wonderful children, and as they grew up (and sometimes still) I have taken on the role of mama bear: I would do ANYTHING to protect my children and keep them safe.

I just finished reading a story about the plight of a ten year old girl who was married off against her will to an older man. It is a heart breaking story, because this girl was not treasured by her parents or her 'husband.' The father gives her to an unkind man who ends up being a child abuser. Nujood's mother-in-law stands idly by as her son molests an innocent child and also mistreats the girl.  When Nujood tells her family of her abuse, she is told to go back and honor her 'wifely duties.'

Luckily, Nujood has a strong spirit. She recalls watching court tv shows with a friend and runs away to a courthouse, where she tells the judge that she wants a divorce. The judges, who seem to be loving parents themselves, can hardly believe what she is saying, but they do believe her and quickly step in to protect Nujood.

Nujood is granted her divorce and makes national news, which gives other children the courage to run away and ask for divorces also.  She seems to have paved the way for other girls to speak up for themselves. And now laws have been passed making it illegal for anyone under the age of 17 to get married.

This book has a happy ending, but I am sure that this kind of abuse still happens. Just as child abuse happens everywhere, even here in America.  There are wicked people in all races, cultures, countries.  But I have to believe that Nujood's story is the exception to the rule and not the typical life of the children in Yemen. Nujood does talk about the judges who helped her, and she had an uncle take her in while the divorce proceedings were going on. Yes, I have to go on believing that most people are good!  But sometimes we have to hear the sad stories to remind us that life is not always a fairy tale.




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