Nujood Ali (Arabic: نجود علي) (born 1998) is a central figure in Yemen's movement against forced marriage and child marriage. At the age of ten, she obtained a divorce, breaking with the tribal tradition.[2][3] In November 2008, the U.S. women's magazine Glamour designated Nujood Ali as Women of the Year, and associated her lawyer Shada Nasser to the same tribute.[3][4] Ali's courage was praised by prominent women, including Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice.[5]

Nujood Ali
Born1998 (age 23–24)
Other namesNojoom[1]
Known forYoungest ever divorcée
Notable workI Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced
Faez Ali Thamer
(m. 2008; div. 2008)

(m. 2014)
AwardsGlamour magazine's Women of the Year (with Shada Nasser)

Ali's lawyer Shada Nasser, born in 1964, is a feminist and specialist in human rights, whose involvement in Ali's case received much acclaim.[4][6] Ali has also written a book together with French journalist Delphine Minoui called: I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.


Nujood Ali was nine when her parents arranged a marriage to Faez Ali Thamer, a man in his thirties.[7] Regularly beaten by her in-laws and raped by her husband, Ali escaped on April 2, 2008, two months after the wedding. On the advice of her father's second wife, she went directly to court, alone, to seek a divorce. After waiting for half a day, she was noticed by a judge, Mohammed al-Għadha, who took it upon himself to give her temporary refuge, and had both her father and husband taken into custody.[8]

Shada Nasser agreed to defend Ali free of charge. For the lawyer, it was the continuation of a struggle that had begun with the opening of her practice in Sana'a in the 1990s as the first Yemeni law office headed by a woman. She built her clientele by offering services to female prisoners.[6]

Yemeni law at the time didn't set a minimum age for marriage, and families stipulated in the marriage contract that sex with these young brides was forbidden until an undefined time when they are considered "ready." In court, Nasser argued that Ali’s marriage violated the law, since her husband raped her.[4] Ali rejected the judge's proposal that she resume living with her husband after a break of three to five years.[4] On April 15, 2008,[9] the court granted her a divorce (and 250 dollars of compensation to her now former husband which he had given at the time of marriage for breaking the contract).[4]

After the trial, Ali rejoined her family in a suburb of Sana'a. She returned to school in the fall of 2008, for the first time since her marriage, with plans to become a lawyer.[10] Ali's memoirs, ghostwritten by Delphine Minoui, were published in 2009, and royalties from international sales of the book were intended to pay for her schooling; but she did not attend school regularly.[11] Because of negative world press coverage about Yemen resulting from the case, Ali's passport was confiscated in March 2009, and she was prevented from attending the ceremonies for the Women's World Award in Vienna, Austria. Media reports also questioned whether proceeds from the book were in fact going to the family.[12]

In 2010, Ali's family was living in a new two-story residence bought with the help of her French publisher and running a grocery store on the ground floor of the building. At this time, Ali and her younger sister were attending private school full-time.[11] Because the publishers were not able to pay Ali directly under Yemeni law, they agreed to give $1000 a month to her father until she was 18 to provide for her and her education.[13]

The English-language version of the memoir was published in March 2010. Introducing the work, New York Times op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof praised the work done to raise awareness regarding such societal problems as terrorism, associated with polygamy and child marriage, saying, "little girls like Nujood may prove more effective than missiles at defeating terrorists."[14] Indeed, publicity surrounding Ali's case is said to have inspired efforts to annul other child marriages, including that of an eight-year-old Saudi girl who was allowed to divorce a middle-aged man in 2009, after her father had forced her to marry him the year before in exchange for about $13,000.[14][15][16][17]

In 2013 Ali reported to the media that her father had forced her out of their home, and has withheld most of the money paid by the publishers. Her father has also arranged a marriage for her younger sister, Haifa.[13] He used the money earmarked for Ali's education to buy two new wives for himself, and, according to, sold Haifa into marriage with a much older man. Ali's ex-husband only pays her $30 a month alimony.

As of June 2015, Ali, now sixteen, has unofficially changed her name from Nujood, which means "hidden," to Nojoom, which means "stars in the sky."[1]

According to the Huffington Post, she married in 2014 and now has two girls. Her education wasn't advanced as originally planned. Her family has been said to have pressured her to demand more money.[18]


2010 - I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, New York, 2010 (ISBN 978-0307589675)


  1. ^ a b Boitiaux, Charlotte (June 10, 2015). "'I Am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced' tackles tradition". France 24. Retrieved 25 March 2016.
  2. ^ Daragahi, Borzou (June 11, 2008), Yemeni bride, 10, says I won't, Los Angeles TimesmznfzKLDhjsd'gV, retrieved 16 February 2010
  3. ^ a b Walt, Vivienne (3 February 2009), A 10-Year-Old Divorcée Takes Paris, Time/CNN, archived from the original on February 5, 2009, retrieved 16 February 2010
  4. ^ a b c d e Power, Carla (12 August 2009), Nujood Ali & Shada Nasser win "Women of the Year Fund 2008 Glamour Award", Yemen Times, archived from the original on 5 April 2011, retrieved 16 February 2010
  5. ^ Evans, Sean (11 November 2008), "10-year-old girl's inspiring story opens eyes at Glamour awards", New York Daily News, retrieved 9 April 2010[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ a b Madabish, Arafat (28 March 2009), Sanaa's first woman lawyer, Asharq Alawsat: English edition, archived from the original on 11 May 2011, retrieved 16 February 2010
  7. ^ Borzou Daragahi (June 11, 2008). "Yemeni Bride, 10, says I Won't". Los Angeles Times.
  8. ^ Loving, James (September 5, 2009), Video Beat Part 4 - CNN Explosher= National Radio Text Service, archived from the original on 5 June 2011, retrieved 16 February 2010. Note: Apart from other details, this website names the judge.
  9. ^ Ali 2010, p. 107
  10. ^ Mullins, K.J (August 27, 2009), Child bride Nujood Ali's life after the divorce, Digital Journal, retrieved 16 February 2010
  11. ^ a b Hersh, Joshua (4 March 2010), A TEN-YEAR-OLD’S DIVORCE LAWYER, The New Yorker, retrieved March 4, 2010.
  12. ^ Bobi, Emil (14 March 2009). "Kleine große Frau: profil besuchte die zehnjährige Jemenitin Nojoud Ali in Sanaa" [Little big woman: Profil visits the ten-year-old Yemeni Ali Nojoud in Sanaa] (in German). Profil (Austrian news magazine). Retrieved April 10, 2010.
  13. ^ a b Sheffer, Joe (March 12, 2013). "Yemen's youngest divorcee says father has squandered cash from her book". Guardian News and Media Limited. Retrieved September 10, 2013. Nujood Ali claims father has used proceeds from her book deal to marry and has arranged wedding for her younger sister
  14. ^ a b Kristof, Nicholas (3 March 2010), "Divorced Before Puberty", New York Times, retrieved 4 March 2010
  15. ^ "8-year-old Saudi girl divorces 50-year-old husband". USA Today. 30 April 2009.
  16. ^ Saudi child 'files for divorce', BBC News, 24 August 2008, retrieved 7 April 2010
  17. ^ Young Saudi girl's marriage ended, BBC News, 30 April 2009, retrieved 7 April 2010
  18. ^ "Here's What Happened to the Yemeni Child Bride Hillary Clinton Wanted to Help". HuffPost. 5 November 2016.

Further readingEdit

  • Rozenn Nicolle "La petite divorced of Yemen", Libération, 31 January 2009
  • "A Yemeni 10 years among women of the year," Le Nouvel Observateur, 11 November 2008
  • Delphine Minoui, "Nojoud, 10 years, divorced in Yemen", Le Figaro, 24 June 2008
  • Cyriel Martin, "Yemen: a girl of 8 years gets a divorce," Le Point, 16 April 2008
  • Carla Power, "Ali & Nujood Shada Nasser: The Voices for Children," Glamour, December 2008

External linksEdit