Thursday, July 15, 2010

Book Review: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Nujood Ali

Book Title: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Author: Nujood Ali with Delphine Minoui
Genre: Memoir
ISBN: 978-0-307-58967-5
Pages: 192 
Source: Local Library

A quick look at the story:

Nujood is born in Yemen to a poor family and since her birth was not recorded in any hospital records, her mother guesses her age to be around 9 or 10 years (in 2008, when the story was written). Hers is a big family consisting of 2 elder brothers, 2 elder sisters and many more younger siblings.... One day in Feb 2008, a man in his thirties approaches Nujood's father and asks for his daughter's hand. Nujood's father agrees to the wedding without even asking for Nujood's consent thinking that it would result in one less mouth for him to feed. But in turn he extracts a "verbal" promise from his future son-in-law that he would not consummate the wedding until Nujood enters puberty. However, things are different post-wedding,  Nujood is forced by her husband into having sex and is also physically abused by both her husband and mother-in-law. Couple of months after her marriage, Nujood visits her parents hoping that they would free her from her hell-hole, but her father fails to take her side claiming that, post-marriage a girl is her husband's property and that she has to learn to adjust. The fear of having to bear any further torture at her husband's hands drives Nujood to the courthouse to file for divorce. The rest of the book describes the story of how Nujood manages to get her divorce and moves on with life, thanks to some kind-hearted people like the lawyer- Shada, the reporter - Hamed and the judges. 

My Thoughts:

I remember watching Nujood's story in the news in 2008 and I felt really sad at her plight but at the same time I was admiring her courage to stand up against her husband & father and file for divorce!! So when I saw the review for this book in bermudaonion's blog, I knew I wanted to read it and immediately requested it at my local library. 

I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, is a 1st person account of Nujood's life and the abuse she suffered at her husband's hands. It's the story of courage shown by a 10 year old girl in a highly male-dominated culture. There is a proverb in India which roughly translates as "A cornered cat is as dangerous as a tiger" and that is exactly how I would describe Nujood's case - married off against her wishes at the tender age of 10, to a guy who is three times her age, Nujood was not even aware of what sex was and she was repeatedly raped and abused by her husband, eventually leaving her with just two options - either silently bear the torture all her life or defy the laws of her society and file for divorce. She was a brave girl to have chosen the second option, but how many of us would dare to take that risky path especially at the age of 10??? 

Nujood's story sheds light on the practice of child marriage and marital abuse which is prevalent in most of the middle-eastern countries and even in lot of villages in India!! There are hundred's of Nujoods out there, with no courage or option to change their situations and hence, end up silently suffering all their life. Thanks to the media coverage, Nujood has become an international figure and also a source of inspiration for lot of young girls who are stuck in similar situations, she was named as 'Woman of the Year' in 2008 by "Glamour" magazine. She is now pursuing her education and is determined to become a lawyer who fights to save young girls from abuse. Here's wishing her luck for all her dreams to come true....  

My take on this book:

This book is a memoir written in simple easy-to-understand language and gives us an insight into the plight of children/women in Yemen. It is highly recommended for both young-readers as well as adults.

Rating: I don't feel it is appropriate to rate this book. It is a must-read. period.


Anna said...

Wow, this sounds like a very powerful book. My daughter turns 10 in a little over a week, and I can't imagine her going through what this young girl did.

Arch said...

@ Anna: Well, this book is written in the simple words of a 10 year old but the content is indeed powerful, more so because reading the book makes you realize that this is not just a one-off case but pretty common in the middle-east!! They even mention that, until Nujood's divorce, the legal age for marriage in Yemen was 15 years(!!!) and that now its been raised to 18... Parents don't seem to have any problem marrying off their daughters while their ages are still in single digits!! I guess a lot of it has to do with their standard of living...poverty is one of the main reasons for child marriages!!

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