A video of an 11-year-old girl from Yemen who claims she ran away to escape a forced marriage has been seen an astonishing 6 million times on YouTube since it was posted July 8.
“Go ahead and marry me off. I’ll kill myself, just like that,” declares Nada al-Ahdal, who says she was saved from the arranged engagement when her uncle rescued her.
The video was filmed in a car and translated by MEMRI-TV, the Middle East Media Research Institute.
“Don’t they have any compassion? … I’m better off dead. I’d rather die,” Nada pleads to the camera. “It’s not [the kids’] fault. I’m not the only one. It can happen to any child.”
“Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea. They’re dead now. This is not normal for innocent children.”
The outgoing and well-spoken girl explains why she ran away from her parents’ wishes, and sought to live with her uncle: “I would have had no life, no education.”
“They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle,” she continued. “What kind of people threaten their children like that? Would it make you happy to marry me off against my will? Go ahead and marry me off. I’ll kill myself, just like that.”
“They have killed our dreams, they have killed everything inside us. There’s nothing left. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, this is simply criminal.”
She recounts how her maternal aunt was a young teen when she was placed in an arranged marriage that lasted one year, ending with the teenage girl killing herself by dousing herself with gasoline and setting herself ablaze.
The 11-year-old Nada, who has her own Facebook page, concludes by directly addressing her mother and family, saying, “I’m done with you. You’ve ruined my dreams.”
According to the Mideastern publication NOW, Nada is from a modest family and has seven siblings. Her uncle, Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, is a video graphics technician at a TV station, and originally took her in when she was just age 3, to live with him and his aging mother, away from her parents.
She recently became entangled with her parents when a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia asked her parents if he could marry her. The couple agreed, but Nada told National Yemen she believed the marriage was merely for financial profit.
“But I’m not an item for sale,” Nada said. “I’m a human being and I would rather die than get married at this age.”
The girl’s uncle, Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, told NOW his view of the situation.
“When I heard about the groom, I panicked,” he explained. “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 burned 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.”
NOW reports that after Abdel Salam succeeded in warding off Nada’s first husband-to-be, her parents came to visit and asked for their daughter to stay with them until mid-Ramadan. Abdel Salam agreed only to learn from the parents days later that Nada had disappeared.
When her uncle found her again, he informed authorities of the situation, and Nada was eventually allowed to return to live with her uncle, and that’s when she posted the startling video online.