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Yemeni Girl, 11: I Ran Away to Avoid Marriage

Nada Al-Ahdal says she won't be a child bride

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 31, 2013 7:03 AM CDT
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(Newser) – Nada Al-Ahdal came to the world's attention when she released a two-and-a-half-minute YouTube video railing against child marriage in Yemen—and claiming she ran away from home to avoid being forced to marry at age 11. "Death would be a better option for me" than becoming one of the country's child brides, she says in the video, in which she accuses her parents of trying to marry her off for money. "What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong so that you would marry them off like that?" she asks. Millions have watched, although there is some controversy over Nada's story (even Yemen's top child-rights organization thinks some portions may not be true).

She says that, after running away "from being bought and sold," she ended up with her uncle in Sanaa. That's where CNN found and interviewed her. "I'd rather commit suicide than get engaged," she said. But days later, she was taken from her uncle and moved to a women's shelter, where a women's rights activist was named her temporary guardian. This past weekend, Nada met with the guardian, her uncle, and her parents (who insist they never planned to marry her off) and it was decided that she, her parents, and her uncle would live together in Sanaa so Nada can be educated. "In the countryside, there's no English classes, there's no computer classes," she said of her home. "Please let me stay in Sanaa and study here."

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