Nada al-Ahdal seems especially prescient and articulate about her situation as a potential 11-year-old bride. The “gifted singer” ran away from her biological parents after they arranged for the second time to have her married off to a much older groom. The first time this happened, she turned to her uncle, who raises a nephew and takes care of his elderly mother. Her parents had sold her to a rich groom, something they had done with her sister as well, who resorted to death by self-immolation to protest the situation.
Nada seems a bit more canny than that. Her uncle helped her escape being married to the Yemeni expat in Saudi Arabia by calling him up.
“I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him,” the uncle, Abdel Salam, told the Lebanese paper NOW. “I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it. I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remained engaged to her.” The suitor chose not to be.
Not that the failure was the end of the parents’ scheming. They kidnapped her from her uncle and arranged another marriage. When Nada refused, they threatened to kill her, but she managed to escape, and finally landed back in the care of her uncle, who, upon calling authorities, got the father to back off on the marriage scheme.
“I managed to solve my problem, but some innocent children can’t solve theirs,” said Nada. “And they might die, commit suicide, or do whatever comes to mind… It’s not our fault. I’m not the only one. It can happen to any child.”
Such a precocious and confident voice against the practice might help alleviate this Yemen custom, which has concerned many.