The Story: Nada al-Ahdal, an 11-year-old Yemeni girl, explains how she fled from her parents in order to escape an arranged marriage with an adult man.
The Background: In a video posted by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), Nada says, “It’s true that I ran away from my family. I can’t live with them anymore. Enough. I want to go live with my uncle. What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong? Why do you marry them off like that?”
Why It Matters: “I have managed to solve my problem,” says Nada, “but some innocent children can’t solve theirs, and they might die, commit suicide, or do whatever comes to mind.” Nada is right: abuse and death are not uncommon to Yemen’s child brides. In 2010, Ilham Mahdi al Assi, a 13-year-old Yemeni girl, died as a result of rupture in her sex organs and hemorrhaging following her first sexual intercourse with her husband, a 23-year-old man.
According a U.N. report, 14 percent of girls in Yemen are married before age 15, and 52 percent are married before age 18. In some rural areas, girls as young as 8 are forced to marry much older men.
Attempts to prohibit the exploitation of child brides have repeatedly failed. A 2009 law setting the minimum age at 17 was repealed the following day, after sharia (Islamic law) opponents tarred it as an un-Islamic Western agenda. But such setbacks shouldn’t stop Western Christians from lobbying the international community to support legislation to end child rape disguised as “marriage.” Laws can’t change hearts, but they can reign in satanic customs.
Ultimately, though, change will only come about in Yemen as the gospel is spread throughout that land. Pray for the missionaries who are doing the dangerous and important work of bringing God’s Word to Muslim countries. And pray for the oppressed young girls who aren’t as fortunate as Nada.