Nada al-Ahdal was just 11-years old in July of 2013 when she fled her family home in Yemen to avoid a forced marriage with a 26-year-old man. As she was escaping, she made a video explaining how a marriage at this age would have destroyed her prospects of getting an education and ruined her life as it had for so many other children.
The video went viral and received over eight million views in the first months after it was posted.
Watch the original video below:
Two years after her escape, she also appeared on Lebanese TV where she debated a Muslim cleric. In the TV debate, which aired on Al-Jadid, Nada tells of how her parents presented marriage to her as a game, but in reality, she says, “It isn’t. It turns you into a servant and places a burden on you greater than you can bear on your shoulders.”
Nada’s uncle, who took her in, appeared with her on the show. He related how Nada lived with him for the past two years, even spending vacations with him, so that more time could be devoted to her education. “If she had been living with them [her parents],” he said, “she would have ended up just like her sisters,” who were married at ages 12 and 14 after Nada escaped.
Now 15 years old, Nada established an institute for the protection of children’s rights. In an interview on Yemini TV, Nada spoke about the the importance of raising awareness of the dangers of child marriage – even more so than passing legislation which is easily disregarded.
Watch the interview below:
Comments to her original video included:
“Wow, if this girl doesn’t end up doing something remarkable I will be surprised.”
“This girl’s bravery makes me feel embarrassed a bit as a man.”