“My mother got married when I was 14 and wanted me to be like her.”

“My mother got married when I was 14 and wanted me to be like her.”

BarcelonaNada Al-Ahdal, who was only 11 years old, posted a video on YouTube in which she complained that her parents wanted to force her to marry. The video went viral and her life changed overnight. Nada is now one of the leading activists against child marriage in Yemen, her home country, but also in many other countries. He speaks without poetry on the tongue, moves consciences and makes us see that, from here, we too can do our duty. The young woman traveled to Catalonia with the help of the La Roca Village shopping centre, which specifically contributes to funding UNICEF Spain’s educational projects against child marriage through its Do Good charity programme.

Your parents tried to force you to marry when you were just a girl.

— It happened in 2013, when I was 11 years old. I’ve never met a man who wanted to marry me. He saw me playing in the street with other girls and thought I could be his wife. My parents told me that I would be married in three days, when they returned from the capital, where they had gone to seek medical help for my sister who had tried to commit suicide.

Why did he try to commit suicide?

– Because they also wanted to marry her by force. I did the same thing as my aunt, who committed suicide when she was only 14 years old by burning herself alive because she could no longer take her husband’s abuse. She got married a year ago and has a daughter.

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Then you must have been shaking with fear when they told you that they wanted to marry you too.

— They tried to convince me by telling me that I would wear a very beautiful dress to the wedding, and that I would have a house to myself, but when I saw what happened to my sister and aunt, I realized that my life was in danger. Danger. That’s why I ran away to my uncle’s house, who is the only educated person in my family. But he was not there and a friend of his helped me. Then we shot the video.

Was the video your idea or his?

— It was mine. He held the camera for me. What I didn’t expect was that the video would have this effect. As a result, the government granted my uncle custody. I didn’t want to go back to my parents, because I knew they would be able to marry me easily in the village. In rural areas there are no police, no one to protect you.

I imagine your parents were angry.

— They were very angry because he broke traditions and rules. My mother got married when I was 14 and wanted me to be like her. It took me almost a year and a half for them to realize that child marriage was not the best option. If I graduate and then work, I can support my family financially. They don’t have to depend on the money a man can give them to marry me.

Then there is an economic reason behind child marriage.

— Poverty contributes, but there are also people in good economic standing who follow this practice. The main reason is ignorance.

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What do you mean?

Parents are guilty, but they are also victims of the wrong tradition in which they were raised. I believe that all parents want the best for their daughters and believe that marriage is the best way to protect them. But they are wrong. Therefore, it is necessary to raise awareness and educate them.

In other words, it is a cultural issue.

A culture that does not respect human rights is not a respectable culture. We cannot reduce it to a cultural problem if it is killing girls’ lives.

Have other girls made videos like you asking for help?

– Yes, many girls ask for help through social networks, and we at the Nada Foundation were able to save sixty-six girls from child marriage. Girls don’t have to risk their lives. The community must have its voice. Campaigns must be carried out to educate the population against this crime.

Has the Yemeni government taken any measures in this regard?

– Currently the situation in Yemen is very complex. Before the start of the war, a bill was pushed against child marriage, but with the conflict everything was paralyzed.

And what can we do?

— You can help by making donations to organizations working against child marriage.

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