Nada al-Ahdal, the 11-year-old Yemeni girl who says in a viral YouTube video that she ran away from home to escape a forced marriage, told Radio Sawa that money is the main motive behind her parents' intentions.
In the interview, she talked about the details of her ordeal. “I thought a lot about escaping my parent’s house during the night, so at six a.m. I ran away by myself and I was not afraid,” she said, and added that she is now under the protection of Yemeni Women Union
, a nonprofit that empowers women and promotes their rights.
Nada has succeeded in attracting worldwide attention through her video in which she says “I would rather die than get married.”
She also asks in the three-minute clip, “What happened to childhood innocence? What have the children done wrong to get married off like that?”
Ahdal’s uncle, Abdul Salam al-Ahdal, told Radio Sawa his niece refuses to return to her parents because of their determination to marry her off.
He said attempts to persuade her parents to change their decision, especially the argument that she is too young to get married, have not succeeded despite the intervention of officials and humanitarian organizations.
He added that “radical Islamic parties” have threatened him and Nada because they want her and the whole case “to disappear” unless she submits to her parents’ will.
Nada Ahdal told Radio Sawa she is not planning to go back to her parents, whom she has not forgiven. She said she will solve her problem on her own, though she is not sure how.
She said that her parents want her to marry a 22-year-old for financial purposes, the fundamental reason behind child forced marriage in Yemen.
“After I solve my own problem, I will try to help any other young girl going through the same situation as mine,” she said.
Her uncle said Nada, who had been living at his house since she was two years old, fled her parents’ house just two weeks after going back to visit them.
“I did not have an idea that her parents were planning for this marriage,” he said.
According to a Human Rights Watch report,
widespread child marriage jeopardizes Yemeni girls’ access to education, harms their health and keeps them as second-class citizens.
The report also says there is no legal minimum age for girls to marry in Yemen and that many of them are forced into marriage as young as 8.