Tell me if the title does not shatter your heart into pieces. I hate to tell you this but this is a true story from a radiant girl with a gigantic courage, Nujood. When her family would not help her escape the horror her life had become, Nujood acted on her own. " I want a divorce" - are words that who would have ever thought will ever come out from a girl who's supposed to be at school and playing "tea party" or making a scrap book with you. But it did.
|Nujood with Shada. "I'll do my best to keep him from hurting you again," the lawyer said, "but you must be strong." Photo: Hamed Thibet|
This is her story:
My head is spinning – I’ve never seen so many people. In the yard outside the courthouse, a crowd is bustling in every direction: men in suits and ties with yellowed files tucked under their arms; other men wearing the zanna, the traditional ankle-length tunic of northern Yemen; and all these women, shouting and weeping so loudly that I can’t understand a word. It’s as if I were invisible. No-one sees me: I’m too small for them. I’m only ten years old, maybe not even that. Who knows?
People say judges are the ones who help people in need. So I have to find one and tell him my story. I’m exhausted. It’s hot under my veil, I have a headache, and I’m so ashamed.
I notice a man in a white shirt and black suit walking towards me. A judge, perhaps, or a lawyer? “Excuse me, mister, I want to see the judge.” “Over that way, up the steps,” he replies with hardly a glance at me, before vanishing back into the throng. My feet feel like lead when I finally step onto the marble floor.
I spy a group of men in uniforms. If they see me, they might arrest me. A little girl running away from home. Trembling, I discreetly latch on to the first passing veil, hoping to get the attention of the woman it conceals. “I want to talk to the judge.”
Two big eyes framed in black stare at me in surprise.
“What judge are you looking for?”
“Take me to a judge – it doesn’t matter which one!”
She stares at me, astonished.
“Follow me,” the woman finally says. The door opens onto a room full of people, and at the far end, behind a desk, a thin-faced man with a mustache. It’s the judge at last. I sit down, rest my head against the back of the chair and await my turn.”
“And what can I do for you?” A man’s voice rouses me from my dozing. It is a curiously gentle voice. I rub my face and recognize, standing in front of me, the judge with the mustache. The room is almost empty.
“I want a divorce.”