YEMEN: Child divorcee Nujood Ali takes Manhattan


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Sharing the bright lights with such luminaries as Sen. Hillary Clinton, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and movie star Nicole Kidman, 10-year-old child divorcee Nujood Ali and her attorney Shada Nasser were in the big city of New York this week as winners of Glamour magazine’s 2008 Women of the Year award.

The trip completes Nujood’s journey from a poor daughter of an unemployed laborer in the slums of a teeming city on the southern edge of Arabia to an international celebrity and women’s rights symbol.


Nujood was married off earlier this year to a man three times her age. He sexually assaulted and physically abused her. But unlike other child brides in Yemen, she didn’t suffer silently.

Spunky and precociously self-assured, she went to court and eventually found Nasser, who helped her get a divorce in what is widely considered the first such incident of its kind.

Nujood’s ordeal, triumph and her eventual return to some semblance of normalcy as a schoolgirl were chronicled in the Los Angeles Times.

Arriving at Manhattan’s Carnegie Hall after a long trip from Sana, Yemen, Nujood wore a colorful violet tribal gown and a yellow headband. She shyly took the stage alongside Yemeni human rights attorney Nasser to accept her award.

The pair were also featured in the November issue of Glamour magazine and have become cornerstones of a charity drive to raise funds to fight child marriage. Check out the video below, courtesy of Glamour’s website, which gives you a sense of an event sparkling with stars like Tyra Banks and the camera flashes of the paparazzi.

A Reuters account of the event cited Glamour’s statement about the award:

‘With the help of human rights lawyer Shada Nasser... Yemeni child bride Nujood Ali took the stand against her husband in court, and was granted a historic divorce. ...Together Nasser and Ali are committed to saving other little girls from early marriage.’

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

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