- Every day I locked myself into the bathroom and hit my head at the wall until I fainted.
Movie director Khadija Al-Salami (45) tells about the time as a newlywed, but this is no giggling tale of a romantic honeymoon. When Khadija was a bride she was just 11 years old.
Khadija was married off to a friend of an uncle. Afterwards they traveled to Saudi Arabia, thousands of miles from her hometown Sanaa in Yemen. The groom had not been present at the wedding. After the wedding party Khadija went out to play with friends.
She still do not know how old the groom was, but she suppose he was in the late 20s. She had been furious when they told what had been decided. She would not know anything about him or see pictures of him.
For years she hated her parents for the betrayal.
Yemen has no minimum age for entering into marriage.
The groom had promised Khadija's family not to touch her until she was at least 14.
- But most men violate this, Khadija says angry.
Her uncle accompanied her to Saudia Arabia and left her with the man, a stranger.
She remembers that she was placed in a room, how she fought against him. Clawed him. How terrified she was.
- He was so much stronger than me, says Khadija about the assault that followed.
- It is not an arranged marriage. It is arranged rape!
The UN estimates that more than 142 million girls are going to be child brides during the next decade. In developing countries, one of three girls are married before the age of 18. One of nine is under 15 years. Khadija fate is shared by many, but the 11-year-old refused both to accept her fate and to behave as expected.
Khadija has always been upset by injustice. Even as a child the dark-haired little girl had decided not to suffer the same fate as her mother, who was still traumatized after having been married off only 8 years old.
Khadija protested so violently that her husband, after three weeks, took her back to Sanaa and demanded to get back the dowry. Her mother looked at her despairing daughter, who shouted that she would rather die than be with her husband.
The girl was skin and bones, she had stopped eating in Saudi Arabia and had already attempted to commit suicide.
- I wanted to live with dignity or not at all, Khadija explains.
Her uncle refused to contribute with anything. The girl had brought shame on the whole family.
So her mother sold everything she owned and had the marriage dissolved.
The movie "I Am Nojoom, Age 10 And Divorced", which is the story about 10 year old Nujood Ali from Yemen, based on the bestselling book with the same title, and directed by Khadija Al-Salami, is now ready for theaters.
Here is a trailer:
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