Nada’s Escape From Forced Marriage Highlights Child Marriage Epidemic

Nada Al-Ahdal must be one of the bravest people alive today. This 11-year-old Yemeni girl managed to escape the fate that befalls so many girls of her age: a forced marriage.

Her story is harrowing. Nada, one of eight children, lived with her uncle in Saudi Arabia since she was three. According to Nada, her uncle, Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, was the only thing standing between her and life as a child bride.

Abdel Salam told NOW:

“When I heard about the groom, I panicked. Nada was not even 11 years old; she was exactly 10 years and 3 months. I could not allow her to be married off and have her future destroyed, especially since her aunt was forced to marry at 13 and burnt herself. I did all I could to prevent that marriage. I called the groom and told him Nada was no good for him. I told him she did not wear the veil and he asked if things were going to remain like that. I said ‘yes, and I agree because she chose it.’ I also told him that she liked singing and asked if he would remain engaged to her.”

According to NOW, the groom then ended the engagement. When he told Nada’s parents that he did not want to marry their daughter anymore, they were disappointed since they would no longer receive the bride price.

Despite her tender age, Nada is no stranger to arranged marriages. Her 18-year-old sister has been engaged several times, and her maternal aunt committed suicide by self-immolation after being forced to marry an abusive man. Even though Nada made her preferences very, very clear, her parents tried to marry her off again. That’s when Nada made this haunting video.

The video cannot be independently verified, but ultimately I’m not sure it matters because it gets at a larger truth. Child marriage is a global epidemic; 13.5 million girls are married before they are 18, according to a World Vision study released earlier this year. Girls in the developing world are the most vulnerable. Half of girls in the least developed countries marry before they are 18, and one in nine marry before they are 15. According to the World Health Organization, there are 39,000 child marriages every day.

It’s not just Western sensibilities that make me think this is a very bad thing. According to the WHO, girls who marry young are effectively denied an education and are at greater risk of intimate partner violence and of complications from pregnancy and childbirth:

According to the UN, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 years in developing countries. Of the 16 million adolescent girls who give birth every year, about 90% are already married. UNICEF estimates some 50 000 die, almost all in low- and middle-income countries. Still births and newborn deaths are 50% higher among mothers under 20 than in women who get pregnant in their 20s.

The phenomenon of child marriage is a complicated melange of gender inequality, poverty and tradition. But it also violates the human rights and dignity of girls throughout the world. Nada’s story seems to have a happy ending for now, but millions of girls are still at risk, and our work is just beginning.

Photo Credit: Screenshot from YouTube / MEMRITVVideos


Jerome S
Jerome S5 months ago


Jim Ven
Jim V6 months ago

thanks for sharing.

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora O4 years ago

If it were so "OK and normal" for Muslims to sexually abuse children why did this protest happen? And why was there a trial and a conviction in the first place ... if it were "normal"? And why do Muslims go out in the street to get beaten up and wounded protesting the release of this criminal?

Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora O4 years ago

To Bryna – You say: „We must create petitions to demand that leaders put an end to dreadful laws that allow men to marry children”.

You’re mistaken, Bryna, if you think that the laws in the Islamic countries allow for men to marry underaged girls. Just to give you a few examples:

The marriage age is in:
Egypt for both 18 yrs
Bahrain for both 20 yrs
Lybia for both 18 yrs
Yemen for both 18 yrs
Nigeria for both 18 yrs

In Egypt (where I live at the moment) there are a number of women’s orgs in place – government run and NOG’s:

The National Council for Women, Chairperseon Mervet el Tellawy
The General Department of Women's Affairs
Arab Women 's Solidarity Association (AWSA)
Society for the Economic Liberation of Women
Regional Network on Arab Women (is networking all the Arab countries)

Similar organizations exist in most of the other Islamic countries and I’m sure they won’t mind getting some support. They’re easy to be found in the internet or via the respective Embassies.

That doesn’t mean that child marriages don’t exist – unfortunately they do exist despite laws in place to the contrary. But some Islamophobes want to make believe that this is normal praxis and that’s what I oppose to because it’s simply a fallacy.

If it where comon and normal why was there such a national outcry by women AND men when the few Salafists who where


Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora O4 years ago the Egyptian Parliament in 2012 tried to change the marriage age from 18 to ??? – the question marks being that they refused to specify. Thankfully the short lived Islamist government is ousted and the constitution suspended. This will NEVER be the case that such law will pass.

Look at the outcry in Nigeria created by the fact that a Member of the Senate, Senator Yerima, wanted to marry an underaged girl ( He tried in vain to argue with his religion (Islam). Those who are ignorant and/or brainwashed enough to argue with the Qur’an here’s a clear statement: Nowhere in the Quran or the Ahadith is it specifically allowed to marry a child. He lost his case.

Here’s the legal and constitutional reasoning which is straightforward: The legal provisions clearly require that the minimum age of marriage should be 18. This is covered by the Child Rights Act which Nigeria signed into law in 2003. From the Child Rights Act, 2003; the relevant sections are very clear: Section 21 states that "No person under the age of 18 years is capable of contracting a valid marriage, and accordingly a marriage so contracted is null and void and of no effect whatsoever.”


Eleonora Oldani
Eleonora O4 years ago

Section 22 goes further by stipulating the duty of the parents as follows, in subsection(1), “ No parent, guardian or any other person shall betroth a child to any person”; and in subsection 2 declares that "a betrothal in contravention of subsection (1) of this section is null and void."

I wonder if you‘re only bothered by Muslims marrying underaged girls or does it bother you in general? I’m asking straight because in (Hindu) India almost 50% (yes: Fifty Percent) of girls are married underaged. Some elope - others are forced. But this is nobody’s concern I must assume as it never makes headlines outside of India and inside the UNICEF. Is it because they’re not Muslims or is it because they’re value is even lower than the one of Muslims?

The Prohibition of Child Marriage Act states clearly that a girl in India can't marry before the age of 18, and a boy not before 21. 47% of girls are married underaged and 18% are married by 15 years of age. These marriages are often performed without the consent of the girls involved in the marriage (fig. by UNICEF).

IMO the key to eradicate child marriage as much as possible is 1) education and 2) severe punishment of offenders. Unfortunately poverty is often the bad advisor (at least here in Egypt it’s a fact) in that “selling” a child enables a family to continue to survive (see my posting further down in the thread).

Vivianne Mosca-Clark
Vivianne M4 years ago

All people need to live with justice and dignity.
To take half of a races people and subject them to cruel actions, is a species trying to kill themselves off.
Allowing men to have a female to use as he matter the age of the female, is totally wrong in natures balance. This also includes any males being subjugated as well.
Slavery is almost dead.
We need to finish it.

Nichola Mac Donough
Nichola M4 years ago

thanks for posting that video

pam w.
pam w4 years ago

Bryna...I appreciate your good intentions, you REALLY think these nasty pedophiles will give a FIG about a petition from ''infidels,'' demanding that they overturn their ''rightful place'' as PATRIARCHS of their world? Islam is first and BY men FOR men! And they seem to like it that way.

Have you heard of any protests by Muslims against this practice? Really?

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna P4 years ago

We must create world laws that protect children. Thank you for sharing Nada's story and her video. I wish I had the means to help her and young girls in every country where child marriage is practiced. We must create petitions to demand that leaders put an end to dreadful laws that allow men to marry children. It is positively sick!