YEMEN – Al-Ahdals an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who escaped her parents and an arranged marriage has taken to the internet to declare: “I’m not an item for sale.”
In an eloquent monologue posted on YouTube, Nada Al-Ahdals says she fled to her uncle’s house when her parents attempted to force her into marrying an older man for money.
“I would have had no life, no education,” she says in the video, dated July 8. “Don’t they have any compassion?”
“I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.”
In an interview with National Yemen, Al-Ahdals says she wants to continue her education.
“I have many dreams, I don’t want to be married now,” she says.
Al-Ahdals, who is one of eight children, accuses her mother of arranging her marriage marriage for profit.
“But I’m not an item for sale,” she says. “I’m a human being and I would rather die than get married at this age.”
Al-Ahdals says other children in her situation have turned to suicide.
“Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea, they’re dead now. They have killed our dreams, they have killed everything inside us. There’s nothing left. There is no upbringing.
“This is criminal, this is simply criminal.”
Fortunately for her, her uncle Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, a montage and graphics technician in a TV station, decided to take her in when she was three years old, to live with him and his aging mother, away from her parents.
Nada was not an only child at home. Her uncle had also taken his other nephew under his wing, as the boy’s own father couldn’t afford his son’s medical requirements. Abdel Salam was thus responsible for bringing up two children. He personally took care of keeping them, and his frail mother, clean and well-fed.
Nada grew up in this caring environment, went to school, and learned English during the summer vacation. She has her own Facebook page, was a gifted singer, and took part in musicals. However, her happiness was cut short when someone came to ask her parents for her hand in marriage. The man, a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia, did not care about the girl’s age. Her parents were happy because the prospective groom worked abroad and was rich.
Abdel Salam tells NOW: “When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage