In the above video, Nada al-Ahdal talks about her decision to run away from home after her family attempted to force her into marriage at the age of 11. What becomes apparent in the video is not only Nada’s outrage and eloquent defence of childhood, but also the violence involved in her life. She says straight into the camera that she would kill herself if she were forced into that marriage, that her maternal aunt at the age of 14 poured gasoline over herself and set herself on fire, all in order to escape a marriage to a violent drunk.
If you watch this video and find yourself shocked by its content, then prepare yourself for more bad news – this isn’t a one off case.
14 million girls are forced into early and forced marriage every year. According to Plan UK, this means that every minute 27 girls are put in the same position that Nada found herself in, and worse, most will have no means to escape their fate.
The consequences of forced marriages can be disastrous for the girls involved. Suicide is just one outcome; others include the increased likelihood of abuse and sexual assault, poor sexual health (child brides are at more risk of contracting HIV) and complete abandonment of the girls’ education.
All these statistics come from the Plan UK website, a charity dedicated to getting the UK involved in ending early and forced marriage around the world. If you would like to get involved, you can sign their petition by clicking on this link.
Nada was originally adopted by her Uncle when her parent’s were unable to care for her and her brother. She was later forced away from her Uncle when her parents wanted to marry her to a rich man from Saudi Arabia – there was also a hefty bridal price promised. Luckily, Nada’s uncle stepped in to save her.
“When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. 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 remain engaged to her.” – Sourced from NOW
Without her Uncle’s help, Nada could have suffered from the same fate as her Aunt and millions of other girls around the world.