When the Law’s an Ass but the court judges are not…

An eight-year old girl in Yemen, Nojoud Muhammed Nasser, is taking her father to court for forcing her to marry a thirty-year old man. She also wants a divorce from her husband who subjected her to domestic and sexual abuse. The law in Yemen used to prohibit the marriage of people under the age of fifteen, but was amended in 1998 to allow younger people to be married, although it states that a husband should not be ‘intimate’ with his wife until she is mature. Shatha Ali Nasser – a lawyer in the Supreme Court – points out that the amendment is ‘highly dangerous’ as it places young girls in situations where they likely to be raped and abused, which is what happened to Nojoud. The eight-year old arrived in court on her own in April 2008, asking for a judge to handle the case against her father. Yemeni law prevents those underage from prosecuting, but in spite of this, a judge ordered the arrest of her father and husband. Her father was later released when it transpired that he has mental problems, which he developed after losing his job and being forced to survive by begging. But her husband is still in jail. Nojoud will not be returned to her family, but will be placed under the care of an NGO that works with children. The Yemen Times article is here.