11-Year Old Child Bride Threatens Suicide After Escaping Arranged Marriage in Yemen: 'Go Ahead and Marry Me Off - I'll Kill Myself' (PHOTOS/VIDEO)
Jul 22, 2013 11:38 AM EDT
Eleven-year old Nada Salam al-Ahdal was intended to be married off to a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia, and in a disturbing new video, the young girl speaks out against the arranged marriage she narrowly escaped and accuses her mother of organizing it for profit, the Daily Mail reports.
"Go ahead and marry me off - I'll kill myself," Nada said in a video posted to Youtube on July 8 that she filmed while in a car. "Don't they have any compassion?' I'm better off dead. I'd rather die. It's not [the kids'] fault. I'm not the only one. It can happen to any child.
"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." She finishes the video stating (presumably to her family): "I'm done with you. You've ruined my dreams."
Nada, one of eight children, including an 18-year old sister who has been engaged many times, was recently interviewed by the National Yemen. "I'm not an item for sale," she told the newspaper, explaining she felt her mother had essentially sold her off for money. "I'm a human being and I would rather die than get married at this age."
Her parents would accept a partial down payment for each new proposal as part of a bride price for their children. They would then post-pone the engagements until the groom had enough money before terminating the engagement and keeping the money as profit before repeating the process.
Although Nada al-Adhdal grew up in a caring environment after being taken in by her uncle at the age of three, her happiness was cut short when her parents found a potential groom for her, a man who worked abroad and was very wealthy.
Horrified by what was happening to his niece, her uncle Abdel Salam, a montage and graphics technician in a TV station, stepped in to rescue Nada and stop the engagement in its tracks.
"When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old," he told NOW. "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. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said 'yes, and I agree because she chose it.' I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her."
After Salam succeeded in warding off the engagement, Nada's parents were disappointed. They attempted to get their daughter back, but Salam took Nada to the Ministry of the Interior's family protection department and explained what had happened. The case ended with Nada's father apologizing, backing off for fear of accusations and saying he was fine with his brother raising Nada.
The practice of marrying off young girls is common in Yemen, according to the Daily Mail, attracting the attention of several international human rights groups who are pressuring the government to put an end to allowing children to become brides. Abject poverty in the country is one of the driving forces behind the practice, and more than a quarter of Yemen's women marry before age 15.
"I am a child and I want to realize my dreams," Nada told NOW. "My aunt was forced to get married so she burned herself to death, and I saw pictures of her with burns. Let me realize my dream. I want to go to school, become a star, and help other children. I am not thinking about marriage, I don't want to now. I want to say to fathers and mother, 'let us realize our dreams, do not kill them'."
Click here to see additional screenshots from Nada Salam al-Ahdal's video.