Nada Al-Ahdal with her uncle Abdulsalam al-Ahdal
By Alaa Al-Eryani- Sanaa
It has been five years since the young girl Nujood Ali escaped from home and went to court to demand a divorce. The story of Nujood’s bravery inspired us all and gave hope to other young girls who were also in similar situations. Today, another girl called Nada Al-Ahdal, breaks the silence by taking her story out to the world when she decided to run away from home as soon as she found out they were to marry her off to a man she didn’t even know.
Nada’s story goes back to when she was only two years old. At that time, her uncle, who lives alone with his mother, had expressed to her parents his wish to adopt her in which they agreed. And so Nada lived with her uncle in the capital city, Sanaa, and didn’t hear from her real family until about a month ago when they asked to see her. “They told my uncle that they wanted me back. He couldn’t do anything about it; they’re my parents. So he took me back to them.” Nada explains.
Being back with her parents after 9 years of separation was so difficult on Nada. The estranged girl was getting very uncomfortable with the different and, as she expressed, “bad” environment there in which everyone, including children, was just chewing Qat and smoking shisha all the time. When Nada tried to express her wish to go back to her uncle, she was shocked with the news that she was getting married. “They told me that I am engaged and that my fiance had already paid them money and brought the engagement ring. They said that I couldn’t leave and even threatened to kill me if I went back to my uncle.”
However, the young brave girl was not intimidated at all by her family’s threats. She was determined to get out of there no matter the consequences. “I decided that I have two choices; to leave or to die. So I chose the first,” Nada says. The morning after Nada knew the startling news about her marriage, she decided to run away. She went to her uncle’s house who was not there and didn’t pick up the phone when she tried to call. Since Nada is a singer in a band, she called her band manager, who was in the city of Hodeida, and told him the situation. Not knowing what to do, her manager Abduljabbar Ziad immediately sent for someone to take the girl from Sana’a and bring her to Hodeida.
After her uncle learned of what had happened, he went and took her from Hodeida back to Sanaa. Later on Nada and her uncle discovered that her parents have issued a statement that their daughter had been kidnapped by her uncle. “They said that my uncle kidnapped me but it’s not true, I am the one who ran away.”
“I want to continue my education and live my life. I have many dreams, I don’t want to be married now. My mother hates me, she just wants me to get married because she will get money from the man. But I’m not an item for sale, I’m a human being and I would rather die than get married at this age.” Nada expressed her frustration.
Nada’s uncle seems very determined to keep her safe from the death threats and the marriage that her parents are imposing on her. “I’m glad that she is safe now. I’m not fighting for her custody against her parents; all I want is just for her to be safe no matter who she’s living with,” he says, “Both Nada and I have faced death threats from her family and I’m worried about her safety.”
When asked if she was scared or not Nada answered: “I’m scared but I know as long as I have my uncle by my side, I will be safe.”
Nada is now waiting in hopes that journalists, human-rights activists and different local organizations will help her make a strong case against her parents who are trying to get her back so they can go on with the marriage process. “I want to thank all the journalists, activists, and organizations that have shown their support to me and hope that they will help me in my case so I can succeed and continue to live my childhood.”