Yemen is ranked number one in the world in gender inequality. One study found that rural women work 17 hours a day on average. Domestic abuse is not considered a crime nor is it socially unacceptable. Women are required by law to submit to their husband’s sexual demands-ie, there is no such thing as marital rape in Yemen. Rape is a largely under-reported crime because social mores blame the victim.
Nojoud Muhammed Nasser arrived at court by herself on Wednesday, April 2, looking for a judge to handle her case against her father, Muhammed Nasser, who forced her two months ago to marry Faez Ali Thamer, a man 22 years her senior. The child also asked for a divorce, accusing her husband of sexual and domestic abuse.
According to Yemeni law, Nojoud cannot prosecute, as she is underage. However, court judge Muhammed Al-Qathi heard her complaint and subsequently ordered the arrests of both her father and husband.
Nasser’s uncle, who does not want to reveal his name, is following the case now as her guardian. According to her uncle, after Muhammed Nasser, the girl’s father, lost his job as a garbage truck driver in Hajjah, he became a beggar, and soon after suffered from mental problems.
Thamer is in jail now. “Yes I was intimate with her, but I have done nothing wrong, as she is my wife and I have the right and no one can stop me,” he said. “But if the judge or other people insist that I divorce her, I will do it, it’s ok.”
So far, no accusations have been made against her father, who was later released due to health problems, or Nasser’s husband, who will remain in jail for further investigation.
“So far there is no case and no charges, as Nojoud arrived by herself to court asking just for a divorce,” said Shatha Ali Nasser, a lawyer in the Supreme Court who is following Nojoud Nasser’s story.
Nasser confirmed that Nojoud Nasser’s case is not the first of its kind in Yemen, but it is the first time that a girl went to court by herself to ask for a divorce.
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