Courtesy of Auntie’s Bookstore
Stellar. Stomach-turning. Non-fiction.
Born in 1998, Nujood Ali went through some hardships in her young life in Yemen’s capital as her father chewed khat and failed to look for work. She was one of a passel of poverty-stricken children (her mother had about 8 that lived and the second wife had five; the oldest handicapped). At the age of 9, Nujood was married off to a pervert in his 30s with predictable results, even though he promised her father he wouldn’t touch her until puberty.
But Nujood fought back. When her mother couldn’t help her and her father wouldn’t, she ran away and found a court of law and a brave female lawyer who helped her get a divorce…and then get back to the business of being a child. She then found out what had happened to her 2 older sisters, who didn’t fight back.
This was an incredible and a fast read. Told by Nujood herself with little sentimentality and a preface and epilogue by adult women, it glosses over the really bad stuff but still gets its point across.
Nujood was the first child bride in Yemen to win a divorce, but since her courageous act of defiance there have been others. At the time I am writing this blog, Nujood is 15 years old.
You just can’t believe that so many patriarchial societies around the globe have insitutionalized child rape — and which see little girls like Nujood who try to leave abusive situations (her “husband” also beat her and his mother used her as a slave) as staining their family’s honor. The little girls run away. They name names. And for that, they are vulnerable to being murdered by a man committing an “honor crime”.
The book still manages to give you an idea of some of the more palatable aspects of life in Yemen however — its history as Happy Arabia, the cuisine, some pastoral scenes with sheep nearby and computers far away.
Rating: Five Bleating Sheep.
I wouldn’t mind visiting Yemen, as long as I had a gender change first. (Nobody could know.)