Saturday, July 3, 2010

Uppity Women #4, A Double Header

Nujood Ali

Well, if you were married at age ten to a man in his thirties who repeatedly raped you and whose family regularly beat you, I'm thinking you'd have to be pretty uppity just to survive. But to go before a judge in Sana'a, Yemen and blurt out "I want a divorce!" and then get one? Majorly uppity. You've seen Nujood's face before on this blog.

Nujood was Glamour magazine's woman of the year in 2008 and she won the Women's World, World Hope Award in 2009 but Yemeni authorities seized her passport to prevent her attending the ceremony because Nujood's book, "I Am Nujood, Aged 10 and Divorced" made Yemen look so bad.

Lest you think that what Nujood stands for and what she endured has been in anyway overstated, just take a look back at how much Yemen protections of child brides has improved since 2008 here. Those Yemenis really learned from Nujood's situation. Poor Elham Mahdi...

Brave as Nujood was, the lawyer who represented her, Shada Nasser (sometimes shown as Nasir), is probably far braver. An attorney who appears in court unveiled, Nasser knows exactly what the stakes are in Yemen for putting up a fight for women's rights. She is one of the few female attorneys practicing in Yemen and in 1989 when she returned to Yemen from the Czech Republic, she was the only female attorney in the entire country. Nujood's case was not her first high risk and high profile one. In 2005 her representation spared the life of a 21 year old young woman, Amina al-Abduladif, who at age 14 was accused in the death of her husband (who had evidently actually been killed by his cousin) and whose confession had been extracted after being beaten and raped. A subsequent rape in prison left the young woman pregnant. She was to have been executed by firing squad but her execution was suspended by presidential decree. The case, however, remains active and Shada Nasser has continued to advocate on Amina's behalf.

Shada Nasser
(Image Credit: Attribution Unknown)

You can read more about Shada Nasser and the complex story of her present relationship with Nujood and her family in an excellent, brief New Yorker article.

From Shada Nasser:

This is my job. My job is very difficult. But this is how I am, and I’ll be like this forever.”

Shoutout to Dr. Maria New- are these all women you think shouldn't be like this forever?

© Bright Nepenthe, 2010

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