Video of an 11-year-old girl apparently from Yemen making an impassioned and articulate online plea to her parents to stop pressuring her into an arranged marriage is gaining international attention.
In the video posted earlier this month on YouTube that has now been translated from Arabic by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the beautiful, brown-eyed Nada Al-Ahdal blasts her parents whom she calls “criminal” and says she would rather die than be married off and throw her life away at such a young age.
TheBlaze cannot verify the authenticity of the girl’s story, but since MEMRI posted the translation of her video on Sunday, it has been viewed more than two million times.
In the video, she says she ran away to live with an uncle to flee her parents’ matrimonial plans for her.
“I filed a complaint with the police against my mother. I told them that I am only 11 years old and she wants to marry me off,” the girl says while riding in a vehicle along with a companion filming most likely on a smartphone.
“I would have had no life, no education. Don’t they have any compassion? What kind of upbringing did they get?” she asks.
“I’m better off dead. I’d rather die. I’d rather live with my uncle than with these people. They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle. What kind of people threaten their children like that?” Nada asks.
“Would it make you happy to marry me off against my will? Go ahead and marry me off. I’ll kill myself, just like that. I won’t go back to live with them. I won’t. They have killed our dreams. They have killed everything inside us. There’s nothing left. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, simply criminal,” she adds.
Nada explains that her mother’s sister was 14-years-old when she was married off. “She lasted one year with her husband, and she poured gasoline over herself and set herself on fire. She died. He would beat her with metal [chains]. He would get drunk. Would it make you happy to marry me off?!” she claims.
She explains that she ran away from her family, because she “can’t live with them anymore.”
“What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong? Why do you marry them off like that?” she asks.
“My mother, my family, believe me when I say: I’m done with you. You’ve ruined my dreams.”
“I managed to solve my problem, but some innocent children can’t solve theirs, and they might die, commit suicide, or do whatever comes to mind. They’re just kids. What do they know? They didn’t have time to study, or anything. It’s not our fault. I’m not the only one. It can happen to any child. There are many cases like that. Some children decide to throw themselves into the sea. They’re dead now. This is not normal for innocent children,” the girl says.
The Daily Mail provides more information about Nada’s saga, reporting that she is one of eight children and that she was allowed to move in with her uncle at the age of three.
But recently when a citizen of Yemen living in Saudi Arabia asked her parents if he could marry her, “they readily agreed.”
The Daily Mail reports that Nada gave an interview to National Yemen in which she accused her mother of arranging the marriage for profit.
It also reports that the girl has an 18-year-old sister who has been engaged “many times.”
“Her parents accepted each new proposal and took a partial down payment for a bride price,” the British paper reports, providing evidence that the widespread practice is fueled by economics in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.
The Social Affairs Ministry in Yemen once reported that the practice of marrying off child brides is so prevalent that more than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before the age of 15.
In 2010, a 13-year-old girl in Yemen died of severe bleeding from a tear in her genitals four days after she was wed in an arranged marriage to a man almost twice her age.
The Daily Mail then quoted Sigrid Kaag, regional director for UNICEF, who released a statement saying that UNICEF was “dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen.”
Here is the clip courtesy of MEMRI: