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A 10-year-old divorcée takes Paris
February 3, 2009 8:00 PM   Subscribe

"In a dimly lit corner of a Paris bar a delighted young divorcée describes in a soft voice how she spent the day throwing snowballs for the first time in her life. That is not remarkable. This is: Nujood Ali is just 10 years old."
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey (36 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I don't know, I'd say that throwing snowballs for the first time in your life is pretty remarkable, at least for you.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 8:03 PM on February 3, 2009


France's Human Rights Minister is Rama Yade, not Yada. Come on, Time Magazine.
posted by nasreddin at 8:14 PM on February 3, 2009


I could have done with some rewording-- scare quotes, at least-- here:
That might be easier said than done, especially in cultures where a girl's honor is held as supremely important.

But wow. Getting away from the guy was awesome enough, and then she goes and starts setting her 10-year-old activist on.
posted by jinjo at 8:15 PM on February 3, 2009


Getting. Rats.
posted by jinjo at 8:17 PM on February 3, 2009


Wow, that girl is amazing. I'm always hopeful that things will change quickly for girls and women who suffer from these awful social customs and stories like this make me both very happy and deeply depressed at the same time.
posted by Salmonberry at 8:19 PM on February 3, 2009


The picture is heavy. Her eyes say so much. I see the sparks of a champion in them. I'm pretty sure people will be looking out for her until she's an adult. Score one for good.
posted by Flex1970 at 8:21 PM on February 3, 2009


This makes me have hope.
posted by Stewriffic at 8:24 PM on February 3, 2009


How wonderful that this girl remains unbroken by what she faced, that she in fact wishes to thrive and to fight against such deplorable injustice. It's strange to feel so much admiration for a ten year old, but she is a hero. I hope for her success and for her safety.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2009


She looks exceedingly clever in that photograph. Somehow I think she'll succeed with ease.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:29 PM on February 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


Not that it's not a good thing to raise the legal age for marriage from 15 to 18, but if the reason is because you're upset that someone managed to get married at ten, then I'm not sure it really addresses the problem.

When they outlaw child marriages, only outlaws will have child marriages?
posted by Naberius at 8:36 PM on February 3, 2009


She looks exceedingly clever in that photograph

The photo was much too small and cropped for me, so I googled... wow.
posted by dawson at 8:40 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


What an extraordinary and brave girl. I don't find it odd to look up to her at all.
posted by jokeefe at 8:58 PM on February 3, 2009


Wonderful stuff. And amazing that she possessed such courage at such a young age, since her religion - which, like her husband, was selected for her - indoctrinated her since birth to be submissive, obedient, and ashamed of her gender.

I attended the Christening of one of my brother's children many years ago, when I was still married. This was a very fundamentalist Catholic church where the services were held in Latin and the women (not just women, but girls) were expected to dress in a very particular manner. One of these particular requirements was a headcovering - a scarf tied over the head, or a veil or a mantilla - when inside the church. But not to worry if you've left it at home, because the church helpfully provided several "spares" near the door.

My eldest sister, a suitably brainwashed traditionalist Catholic, handed one to my wife, who held it in her hands and stared at it. Knowing the temperament of those around us, I nevertheless found the cajones to say "My wife covers her head for no one."

My point is, this story about young Nujood - who, I suspect, will likely grow up to become a neurosurgeon or a structural engineer - is doubly remarkable for the fact that not only was she not prepared to eat shit, but she was not prepared to eat shit in a religious culture where, for women, shit-eating is something they have had to do since infancy.
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:09 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I admire her. I hope she does become a lawyer. That a person of her strength and calibre is walking the Earth fills me with gratitude.

That a person of her strength and calibre was abused so heinously makes me sick. I wish for a million more passionate advocates, young and old, fighting all at once to stop the evil of non-consensual sex and domestic violence.

Woman of the Year, indeed. I believe she's enough woman for several years.
posted by batmonkey at 9:17 PM on February 3, 2009


Asked by a[n insensitive idiot] reporter in Paris if she hopes to meet her Prince Charming one day, Nujood sat back in her chair, crossed her arms and said bluntly, "I no longer think about marriage."
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:18 PM on February 3, 2009 [16 favorites]


pwnd
posted by turgid dahlia at 9:34 PM on February 3, 2009


A strong, smart and courageous little girl. My new hero.
posted by pianoboy at 10:07 PM on February 3, 2009


Okay, she is awesome, and I had the same reaction Naberius did - what the hell good does it do for the child brides to have the legal age of marriage raised from 15 to 18? But as the article says, this was in response to her tales of abuse and violence, so I guess they just decided that it was a good idea for no girls under 18 to be getting into that situation anyway.

The next question I had about that was: If it wasn't a legal marriage, is she actually divorced? Or can we call it what it was - that her family sold her into an unsanctioned sexual slavery that she was incredible and brave enough to find protection from?

I was reminded of a friend of mine from high school. She always seemed like the most naive, innocent, helpless girl you'd ever want to meet, but then one Christmas break when she was 15 her biological father - a convicted drug-trafficker from Germany - showed up in our small Oklahoma town and told her and her younger siblings to pack their bags. He had them on their way back to Germany within the hour.

My friend managed to secretly get a message to us about what was happening before the kidnapping had moved into the travel stages, and then once she had the first opportunity in Germany, ran for it, found the embassy on her own, and got herself and her siblings safely back home. That level of bad-assitude always amazes me, but even moreso in those who I'd never expect it from, or who never signed up for it.

Najood Ali's story is about a thousand times more impressive than my friends even, though, because my friend at least had custom and social opinion on her side. Najood had no one until she was brave enough to act. Damn straight she'd better become a lawyer.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:22 PM on February 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm thinking...HOPING she'll become a world leader...who studied law. A young Skywalker.
posted by Flex1970 at 10:40 PM on February 3, 2009


I am both happy and appalled that she was awarded "Woman of the Year." While she certainly deserves the acclaim, it's a pretty sick world when ten year olds have gone through so much that they can no longer be called children.
posted by arcticwoman at 10:42 PM on February 3, 2009 [7 favorites]


Minoui, who has spent considerable time with Nujood, says the girl still risks attacks from male relatives who believe she has sullied the family's reputation.

Effect of marrying a 10-year-old off to abusive 30-year-old rapist on Ali family reputation: None.

Effect of 10-year-old earning worldwide attention by divorcing husband on Ali family reputation: Harm, perhaps irreparably, thus deserving violent retaliation by other family members.

There's your problem right there.
posted by gottabefunky at 11:04 PM on February 3, 2009 [12 favorites]


"Asked by a reporter in Paris if she hopes to meet her Prince Charming one day, Nujood sat back in her chair, crossed her arms and said bluntly, "I no longer think about marriage."...and then hit him with a bat.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 3:49 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


I also applaud this girl for her bravery and resourcefulness, and I do hope she grows up to become a great lawyer and activist.

However... the cynical part of me expects that she will end up the victim of a revenge attack, or possibly even killing, from her spurned ex-husband or another male victim of her family. I just don't get that culture.
posted by starvingartist at 4:35 AM on February 4, 2009


I'm amazed and impressed that Nujood found the courage to just walk away from her parents' house and DO something to end this miserable existence they had mapped out for her.

I would really like to see the reporters that have made her such a celebrity now turn their focus on the monster her parents married her off to and make it their personal mission in life to keep this man from "marrying" again, so that we can be sure no more young girls are abused and victimized by him ever again.
posted by misha at 4:59 AM on February 4, 2009


I just don't get that culture.

If you are talking about asshole culture, I don't either. However, if you are talking about Arab culture, I don't think that's the problem. It's not monolithic, the judge at least had no questions about it.

As for our culture, we have stories of Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Christian Scientists, Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses sweeping stories about child abuse under the rug because they don't want to believe it's happening or confront it. I'm not blaming religion either; I've heard plenty of secular examples as well.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:03 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


Never mind that, ARRANGED MARRIAGE is coming soon to CBS!!!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:38 AM on February 4, 2009


Why doesn't the word "paedophile" crop up in news reports of cultures where [much] older men see it as their privilege to deflower a girl either pre- or barely out of puberty?

Culturally/religiously sanctioned or not, these men want to take on younger wives because the woman they got hitched to first doesn't look nearly as hot as the fresh young thing they've got their eyes on.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:13 AM on February 4, 2009


And amazing that she possessed such courage at such a young age, since her religion - which, like her husband, was selected for her - indoctrinated her since birth to be submissive, obedient, and ashamed of her gender.

No, no it didn't. Please stop confusing religion for social custom. I will bet you a cookie that the Judge who rescued her went to Mosque regularly. This is the same as hilbillies marrying off their 10 year old, which didn't come to an end here in the 'States until real recently. (Jerry Lee Lewis and his 13 year old cousin bride, anyone?)

Some people have this mental image of Islam as this murderous slave cult, and it's not terribly accurate - yes, there are practitioners who use it as an excuse to do all sorts of horrible things to people, but as Christians, with our notoriously bloody past, we should be painfully aware that this is true for all religions (atheism, too... orthodox monks being shipped off to the gulag to die by the thousands comes to mind, as do wholesale massacres of Tibetan monasteries by the PLA).

On the other hand, it also produces people of genuine faith like Dr. Martin Luther King and Al Khwarizmi.

This isn't the story of one girl's triumph over Islam. This is the story of one girl's triumph over man's inhumanity to man... a much larger and more important victory.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:16 AM on February 4, 2009 [14 favorites]


This isn't as religiously based as culturally. From the side-bar story attached the the above article 'Marcelino de Jesus Martinez was arrested in Greenfield, Calif., on suspicion of human trafficking and charged with a felony for selling his 14-year-old daughter to Margarito de Jesus Galindo".

My grandmother left her home in Ireland in the 1920's running away from an arranged marriage to a man over twenty years her senior. As the song says "Woman is the nigger of the world". This will only change with educational opportunities for women, which requires building and supporting schools for girls and supporting women's attempts at being able to make and keep their own money.

What an incredibly brave girl. I can't help but think she got out just in time. Eventually that moxie would have gotten beaten out of her and she would resign herself to the life that all the women in her family are forced to endure.
posted by readery at 6:51 AM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dear TIME,

A link to a slideshow of the great romances seems a little inappropriate. Please rethink.

Yours,
Good taste
posted by aaronetc at 7:16 AM on February 4, 2009 [2 favorites]


From aaronetc's link:
Bogart & Bacall...Taylor & Burton...Newman & Woodward...

Bill & Hillary

WHAT?!!
posted by wabashbdw at 7:39 AM on February 4, 2009


Ugh, the article about the bride prices. I get cultural relativism, but for me it goes right out the window when you're abusing children.

I remember a series the Dallas Morning News did on Women in 1993. I'll have to see if there's an archive somewhere. It talked about how women are treated around the world.

The one quote I remember, and that comes to mind every time I see this kind of thing: "If it happens to a man, it's a human rights violation. If it happens to a woman, it's culture."
posted by lysdexic at 7:56 AM on February 4, 2009 [16 favorites]


"She had never been inside a courtroom but had once seen one on television, she says, and knew it was a place where people went for help."

That's definitely one of the awesomest things that television's ever gotten the assist on.
posted by redsparkler at 11:21 AM on February 4, 2009 [4 favorites]


True, redsparkler, but I am also handing it to the judge for saying "wait, wait, WHAT?" and personally taking it upon himself to bring her home and help her out...not to mention grant the divorce.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 12:06 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


No, no it didn't. Please stop confusing religion for social custom.

I'll concede to this only up to a point. The social custom is a direct result of, and is justified by (rightly or wrongly), the religion.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:30 PM on February 4, 2009


The social custom is a direct result of, and is justified by (rightly or wrongly), the religion.

And the interpretation of religious scripture, the focus of new dogmata, and the emphatic lecturing of pulpit pounders, fatwa writers, and televangelists everywhere is heavily influence by culture. Cause and effect are somewhat inextricable.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:31 PM on February 4, 2009 [1 favorite]


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