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She got her divorce papers!
“I hated nights because they usually meant that my husband would come to my bed. I used to run from him and he would chase me and beat me and do his thing. I pray that my younger sisters do not face the same fate,” said Nojoud. Now the 8-year-old is living with her uncle and his family in relative safety."
According to research on early marriage in Yemen from Oxfam and the United Nations Population Fund, there are severe physical consequences that result from early marriage and subsequent early childbirth such as nutritional anemia, post-partum hemorrhages, obstetric fistula (a disorder that affects the bladder and causes leaking of urine or feces), plus mother and infant mortality. Additionally, many girls like Nojoud develop irreparable psychological complexes from early marriage and the forced sexual encounters that accompany it. Early marriage also contributes to divorce and family problems.
"On April 15, with support from her lawyer Shatha Mohammed Nasser and Judge Abud Al-Khaleaq Ghowber, Nojoud paid her way out of marriage with YR 100,000 from an anonymous donor in the Emirates and happily became an 8-year-old divorcee." “Although Nojoud does not know her real birthday, I believe this day she was born again and it would be apt to celebrate this day as the first day of her new life,” said Nasser.
“I am so happy to be free and I will go back to school and will never think of getting married again," Nojoud said joyfully. "It is a good feeling to be rid of my husband and his bad treatment.”
According to the International Center for Research on Women’s 2007 statistics, Yemen is one of 20 developing countries where early marriage is common. Nearly half of all Yemeni girls are married before the age of 18. Most women have their first child immediately after their first menstruation cycle and are likely to have a child every 12 months during their reproductive lifespan. Yemen's fertility rate is extremely high, with an average 6.3 children per each woman, and the country also has some of the highest mother and infant mortality rates worldwide.
Read the whole article here.
Here is the first part of the story about a girl who wants to divorce her 30 year old husband.
She was sheltered for 4 days in the judge's house and then was sent to her uncle's house who is helping and supporting her. Her husband rejected the proposal of divorce.
“I will not divorce her, and it is my right to keep her. No need to sleep with her, at least I can have her as a wife. No power can stop me."
“It is not a matter of loving her, I don’t, but it’s just a challenge to her. Her uncle thinks that they can put me in jail and also the judge has no right to bring me here. How did she dare to complain about me?”
She complained that he was sexually and physically abusing her for 2 months.
Shatha Mohhamed Nasser, a lawyer in the Supreme Court has taken the case. She wants to help Nojuud and her 6 year old sister who might end up in a similar situation soon.
A 2006 field study revealed that child marriage among Yemeni girls reached 52.1%, compared to 6.7% among males. The study, conducted by the Woman and Development Study Center, affiliated to Sana’a University, looked at 1,495 couples, concluding that there is a huge age gap between the spouses.
The study established a comparison between ages of spouses in their first marriage through three generations. It disclosed that marriage age raised gradually from an average of 10.24 years to 14.70 years for women and from 20.97 to 21.54 years for men. It indicated that the average marriage age varies from one geographical area to another; for example, it showed that girls in Hodeidah and Hadramout married at the average age of eight, while in Mukalla the average age was 10. ( from this article)
Jesus said, "You shall know them by their fruits" Matthew 7:20
8 year old, Nojoud Muhhamed Nasser, a brave little girl from Yemen, went to court eight days ago, by herself, to find a judge. She wanted to find out, if she could be divorced from her 30 year old husband, whom her father forced her to marry 2 months ago. By the Yemeni law, she is to young to prosecute, but her father and her husband have been arrested. This is 21st century, people.
“My father beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me. I refused but I couldn’t stop the marriage,” Nojoud Nasser told the Yemen Times. “I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced. They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by yourself.’ So this is what I have done.”
“He used to do bad things to me, and I had no idea as to what a marriage is. I would run from one room to another in order to escape, but in the end he would catch me and beat me and then continued to do what he wanted. I cried so much but no one listened to me. One day I ran away from him and came to the court and talked to them.”
“Whenever I wanted to play in the yard he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him. This lasted for two months"
"He was too tough with me, and whenever I asked him for mercy, he beat me and slapped me and then used me. I just want to have a respectful life and divorce him.”
Her husband says:
Yes, I was intimate with her, but I have done nothing wrong, as she is my wife and I have the right and no one can stop me," he said. "But if the judge or other people insist that I divorce her, I will do it, it's ok."
It's not ok. You have ruined someone's life forever...Stephanie Sinclair
In Yemeni civil law, children under the age of 15 can not get married, but in 1998 an amendment was made, in order for parents to be able to make a marriage contract, if they wish so. Officially, the husband can not consummate the marriage until the girl is "ready" or "mature" ( I really do not know exactly, what that means in Yemeni law. Has her first period? Verbally agrees to have a sexual contact with her husband?)
Muslims are to follow Muhammed's example. After Muhammed's first wife died, he married his best friend's daughter, Aisha. She was six at that time, so he had to wait to consummate the marriage until she was about nine. (There are controversies about Aisha's age, some Muslim scholars are trying to convince the masses, that she was bit older than that).
Muhammed followed the cultural norm established in his land: marrying young girls and starting sexual interactions with them after their first menses was a norm at that time in the Arabic Peninsula (Jewish custom said the girl must be at least 12.5, the boy at least 13). Therefore Muhammed established this practice for his followers to come for the next centuries. Islam authoritatively and consequently follows His Prophet's example till today.
To make things easier for the men, there is a Fatwa (ruling on Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar) explaining Muhammed's sexual relationship with Aisha, which they can follow, if needed.
(...) answering the question about "thighing" of Aisha, (...)
After the committee studied the issue, they gave the following reply: It has not been the practice of the Muslims throughout the centuries to resort to this unlawful practice that has come to our countries from pornographic movies that the kufar (infidels) and enemies of Islam send. As for the prophet, peace and prayer of Allah be upon him, thighing his fiancée Aisha. She was six years of age and he could not have intercourse with her due to her small age. That is why [the prophet] peace and prayer of Allah be upon him placed HIS [MALE] MEMBER BETWEEN HER THIGHS AND MASSAGED IT SOFTLY, as the apostle of Allah had control of his [male] member not like other believers.. (from here )
If you can find another word then a word starting with "p" describing this act done to a child, send me a note.
Anyway, that's what and why Muslim men think about marrying young girls in some parts of the world still today.
The question to investigate would be: is this beneficial for the child-bride? Can the modern psychology, science change the approach of Muslims in this subject?
It is a proven fact that after the first menses, it takes between 1 to 6 years for a girl to be ready to successfully carry a baby full term. Younger girls are more likely to miscarry and their babies are facing higher risks during their developmental stage.
Mental, psychological, emotional and spiritual growth, and in consequences, beneficial engagement in the society is highly imparted also.
Early pregnancies are the leading cause of death for girls age 15 to 19 in the developing world, UN reports. According to UNFPA, at least 49 countries in the world are facing the problem of "child-brides". In Afghanistan, it is believed that between 60 and 80 percent of marriages are forced marriages.
Why are parents doing this to their children? The answer is almost always the same: financial or material benefits. Some are bought with money, some with material possessions, some with animals, some are the debts payments (officially it is a dowry, of course). Sad, but true.
You tell me, if girls so young are mature enough to handle life provided for them in such a way. You tell me, if you would like to volunteer and live through such life? You tell me, if you would allow your daughter/sister/mother to have a life story so traumatic? You tell me, if it should be still permissible in Islam to marry elementary age girls ?
Nojoud, you are a brave girl. I will remember you.
Last night I read a post in American Bedu blog about polygamy. It has over 100 comments.
I posted few of mine. Here they go.
If you are interested in this subject, please read the blog thread above to the end and leave a comment here or there.
Road in Qatar.
Comment number 1:
Let me say on the beginning, that I really like your blog. Living in different cultures myself, I know how different it is.
I also like a lot of things about Arabic countries, but today let me “vent out” on the issue that is often “spiritualised” and, I believe, explained in a way as to keep the realtionship/marriage system in tact in these countries.
I lived in Saudi Arabia for a very short time, and then in Qatar. You have no idea, how many women feel rejected, depressed and underestimated because their husbands chose to marry another woman.
I think that Arab men living in the strict countries are no different than men living in the rest of the world. Why do I say so? My husband was an English teacher and he would tell me almost every day the stories he heard form them.
I don’t even want to discuss that, for it is a private matter, but firmly disagree that Muslim morals based on Islam are really functioning very well in these societies.
Most of the men were cheating on their wives. Most of them were bragging about it. Fathers would include their sons from a fairly early age into the “secrecy of pleasurable life” conduct. The “stories from Dubai”, “renting apartments” etc., “bachelors outings” were more common than I ever expected. And most of the guys would do whatever they would like, and then go to Mecca (we lived in Jeddah), so what’s the big deal, right? The level of hypocrisy was enormous.
Young girls were terrified thinking about what the future brings. They are trapped in a system, without the possibilities of making personal choices.
I wonder, if the guys would be happy knowing that their wives might find someone different some day, who would fulfill their desires much better than them. How it would be for a change to have a law about wives having possibilities to marry again. That would be a sight. I know it does sound outrageous, but why these man are thinking that woman’s emotional frame is so much different than their own. How in the world they can abuse them in the name of ….what?
I don’t think that the man in Arabic countries are much different that in any other region of the world. But they can legally do what in other countries would be unheard of. They can have 2 or 3 or 4 wives at the same time. Easy way out. (Oh, I know they have to provide for them all at the same level). Of course, they can divorce and some do. But some feel sorry for their wives and don’t want to be the “bad guys”, so…the religion provides a way out of the situation. How convenient.
I don’t think God would made the world a better place for one gender, just because they deserve better. And we all have the same emotional/spiritual/sexual needs. And we all deserve better. But, of course, I can not question the teachings of Islam, they are sealed. It’s just sad that women can be treated like that in the name of God’s will.
I could write more, these are just the symptomatic thoughts on the issue of polygamy in a Muslim society. I know I can’t say anything bad about the founder of Islam, but …what can you expect from the religion where the prophet-founder has several wives and the youngest one is an elementary school age kid? I am not being arrogant, just blunt about the facts.
By the way, I am not a feminist.
I hope I did not offend you.
Boats in Qatar
Comment number 2:
Wow, so many comments… Thank you.
Susie: Aisha was 6 (or 7) years old when she was married, and the marriage was consummated when she was nine years old. al-Tabari vol.9 p.130,131 (from http://www.muslimhope.com/WhyDidMohammedGetSoManyWives.htm#Aisha)
dalioness: I am sorry if you feel I have offended you. The fact is, 9 years old entering into marriage is very young, even for those times, when The Prophet lived, wasn’t it? I think what offended you, is the tone of my voice. As I said, I “vented out” my thoughts. I will try to be more sensitive.
By the way, I personally would have a biiiig problem if Jesus Christ would have several wives and consummate marriage with one of them being 9 years old. It amazes me continually, that Muslims do not feel nothing in that matter about The Prophet. Or maybe I don’t get something here…Enlighten me, please. (this is not sarcastic)
WM: I am thinking that whatever was/is permissible in the name of tradition/culture/religion (like concubines/young wives etc. even in the Bible, which I base my beliefs on) is not necessarily healthy for the individuals involved. I just can’t imagine that a 9 year old can be satisfied/happy (whatever that means)/fulfilled in a relationship involving sexual activity. No matter what millenium, continent, faith. I don’t know what the “church fathers” said about marriage to young women. You are right
But the main point of my post was not about Aisha…
Plus…I like you, people. I wish I could learn Arabic while living there…. I am grateful that I had an opportunity to live among Saudis and Qataris. Their hospitality is fantastic. Food is the best. I will never forget the nights under the skies in the deserts. Neither the sand duning adventures.
These signs you can see only in the Arabian Penninsula.
Comment number 3:
I will try to stay on the topic, although I’m itching to continue on the other themes we have touched.
I think the institution of marriage in Islam, as explained and understood by Quran, scholars and Muhhamed’s exemple of life, does not provide space for any other discussion regarding: what if. It is what it is. And now, because it seems that some part of it is wrongly established, or interpreted, we have a problem, which in the name of Islam we have to cope with.
In my opinion the foundation of Islamic marriage is nothing else than a contract. There is no mention about nothing else than obligations. And the pleasure for man. Sex being and act of love committed in that way is part of this contract.
In Christianity, when a man marries a woman, they become one.
“Have you not read, he replied, that at the beginning the Creator “made them male and female,” and said, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh”? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate. (Gospel of Matthew 19;4-6; Mark 10:6-9)
This is the biggest difference, I suppose, between this noble institution of marriage in Islam and Christianity. It is not my intention to put one superior to another. I am just trying to understand the whole concept. And we don’t understand marriage as a “lovy-dovy” infatuation start up, followed by years of coping with each other. But at least, we can talk to the guy more then three times before we get married.
Christian concept of love is mutual service, caring, charity, helping the spouse to become the best he/she can be and fulfilling their purpose and calling they were created for.
So, when we, Christians, get married (I am talking about believers, not the culture), we believe we are one. This union is forever. It is considered an intimate union in which the spouses give themselves, as equal persons, completely and lovingly to one another. It is intended to be a faithful, exclusive, lifelong union of a man and a woman joined in an intimate community of life and love. One to one. Otherwise, it does not make sense. In this concept of marriage, there is no place for the third party. Sorry. Otherwise, there is no sense in promising life longing love.
The question is, are we so dependable on the cultural/social/religious values and dogmas that we can’t agree on universal understandings of views?
Now we are entering into the field of anthropology, which I am not that familiar with, but the basic view and understanding of a human being must be analized. The question will be, of course, is the human knowledge without presuppositions possible?
But I found, that in Islam you also understand every human being to have: Jism (body, physique), Nafs (personality, character), and Rooh (soul, spirit).
My question is then: what happens to these “parts” of a human being, regardless the gender, when they enter into the union of muslim marriage? How different is it for a man than a woman? What are the psychological aspects of everything connected with getting married? Do you believe that something “spiritual” happens when you vow before God to stay with this person forever? Do you think that sex is “spiritual”? What are the consequences then of one spouse disregarding this union, which was established in God’s eyes?
If both, men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah, why men seem to have more opportunities to sneak away from their obligations legally, while women can’t or their actions would bring such repercusions that they just give up and suffer to protect their dignity or children.
To be frank with you, my personal opinion is (not that it matters to you) that Mohammed simply justified his sensuality by making remarks which now cause tremendous confusion for those under Islam. I can’t get over hurijas(sorry for spelling, don’t really know how to) in heaven (by the way, if heaven is so carnal, promising super extra virgins to all the guys, not much for the women again, I would not want to be there. Plus the hell is populated by women anyway according to the visions of Mohhamed, isn’t? Really clever). What about “Muta” marriages? Legalized prostitution I would call it. What about the sex slaves? I don’t even want to go into the subject of hadamas in present day Saudi. Partially related, but makes me mad anyway.
Well, enough of rumblings. Have a good evening everybody. Or night?
Comment number 4:
I can’t argue sacramental marriage here obviously.
In a plain language, for Christians marriage is a covenant. One time and forever. With one person. Theoretically that brings stability and assurance, doesn’t it? Does it do the same for a muslim woman? I would be terrified not knowing if I can trust my husband, bc he has another option down the road.
And living in the Middle East and hearing stories over and over form the men, I must say, they are not different from any other part of the world. Just married women are in worse position, especially considering the law about the kids after divorce, so…. is there a way out for them? In reality no, because a woman will not willingly leave her kids behind. How many women do you know who did that?
Celibacy is not ideal for Christians. Read the Epistles. It is a choice in order to be given completely to God’s works (practically: more time, possibilities etc). It is for men and women who want to sacrifice their whole life in the service for God.
Sex is not a punishment for Christians. It is an expression of love and commitment. It should be enjoyed within the marriage.
Why do you consider “marriages for pleasure” haram?
Narrated Abdullah: We used to participate in the holy wars carried on by the Prophet and we had no women (wives) with us. So we said (to the Prophet ). “Shall we castrate ourselves?” But the Prophet forbade us to do that and thenceforth he allowed us to marry a woman (temporarily) by giving her even a garment, and then he recited: “O you who believe! Do not make unlawful the good things which Allah has made lawful for you.” Bukhari: Volume 6, Book 60, Number 139.
And a known one: “You curse frequently and are ungrateful to your husbands. I have not seen anyone more deficient in intelligence and religion than you. A cautious sensible man could be led astray by some of you.”
No wonder they have to try hard. Seems, that even harder than the men, doesn’t?
What about the sex slaves? What about permissible rapes of the enemy prisoners? (Surah 4:24) What will women do in Muslim heaven?
I find it fascinating that millions of Muslim women are happy about these everlasting virgins surrounding their husbands in the future life forever. Plus, if this is SO important, it somehow makes me think that sexual pleasure plays an leading role in Islam, if THIS is what you will get there and THIS is what the men are talking about and hoping for. — Houris do not want wives to annoy their husbands, since the houris will also be the spouses [i.e. wives] of the husbands in the afterlife. —”Mu’adh b. Jobal (Allah be pleased with him) reported that Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, ‘A woman does not annoy her husband but his spouse from amongst the maidens with wide eyes intensely white and deeply black will say: Do not annoy him, may Allah ruin you.” He is with you as a passing guest. Very soon, he will part with you and come to us.’” Ibn-i-Majah vol.3:2014 p.212
Does that mean that even in heaven married women have to make place for tens of other women and live in submission to ….who? What is Muslim woman’s hope in the afterlife? Again to be a wife among about 70+ others? What a hope to live for.
I think that all of these sayings and exemples of The Prophet (there is more, many more) create the world in which a man has a better “start of” position than a woman. But one can’t argue that, right?
Rumblings again, but it’s getting late here too.
Added in June 08: blog of a polygamist wife