Yemen annuls 8-year-old girl's forced marriage
Forced to marry 28-year-old who beat her for sex
A Yemeni court on Tuesday granted a divorce to an eight-year-old girl on the grounds that she had not yet reached puberty after her unemployed father forced her into an arranged marriage this year.
The girl's lawyer and human rights activist Shatha Nasser said the minor had filed a suit in April asking for a divorce and told the court that her husband had been physically abusing her and forcing her to have "sex with him after hitting her".
"I am happy that I am divorced now. I will be able to go back to school," the young Nojud Mohammed Ali said, after a public hearing in Sanaa's court of first instance.
Her former husband, 28-year-old Faez Ali Thameur, said he married the child "with her consent and that of her parents" but that he did not object to her divorce petition.
In response to a question from Judge Mohammed al-Qadhi, he acknowledged that the "marriage was consummated, but I did not beat her."
Nojud was a second grader in primary school when the marriage took place two and a half months ago.
"They asked me to sign the marriage contract and remain in my father's house until I was 18. But a week after signing, my father and my mother forced me to go live with him," Nojud said.
Nojud's father, Mohammad Ali Al-Ahdal, said he had felt obliged to marry off his daughter, an act he claims she consented to.
Dressed in traditional black, Nojud said she would now go to live in the home of her maternal uncle and did not want to see her father.
Nasser said Nojud's case was not unique. "I believe there are thousands of similar cases," she said, adding that civil society groups are pressing parliament to set the minimum age for marriage at 18.