Page last updated at 10:02 GMT, Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Yemeni child bride fights for divorce

Yemeni schoolgirl Nujood was divorced by the age of 10 having been married to a man of 30 when she was only nine. As the BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones heard when he met Nujood and her parents in the Yemeni capital Sanaa, she took her fate into her own hands, getting the divorce herself.

Yemeni schoolgirl Nujood
Nujood managed to break out of a forced marriage and get back to school

She had not even known she was to be married on the day of her wedding.

With her father's consent, she was brought by her future husband to his village where his family laid on a big ceremony.

Afterwards, when she saw everyone leaving, she wanted them to drive her back home but was told by her new husband that she was married.

After less than a week in the new village, which she spent doing household chores, her tearful pleas to the husband's family persuaded them to bring her back to her parents.

She told her father that she wanted to finish school but he refused to allow this and said she must return to her new home.

Two attempts to run away, hiding in her uncles' houses, failed when her father, husband and brothers came looking for her.

Getting to court

On the night before she was due to go back, her stepmother advised her to file for divorce at a court and that is where she went the next morning.

She took advantage of the absence of her father, her mother, her stepmother and her elder brothers to take a bus and a taxi to the court.

Nujood and her sister
Nujood says she hopes to go to university

A woman at the gate listened to her story and took her into the judge's office.

She told him that she wanted a divorce and that she wanted to finish school and stay with her family.

The judge took her home to his own house and family where she stayed for three days, being treated kindly.

He then sent her with an escort to her parents' house. Her parents were not in but one of her sisters passed on the message that she had gone to court for a divorce.

One of her uncles came to the court to collect her.

After her father and her new husband came to the court themselves, they were arrested and sentenced to 10 days and 15 days in prison respectively.

A few weeks later, the judge granted the divorce. Her husband was led into the court for the ruling but said nothing to her.

Nujood has been living at home again since the divorce. She is going to school again and hopes to attend university.

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