“I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced”

When her family would not help her escape the horror her life had become, this Yemeni child acted on her own.

“I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced”Photograph by Delphine Minoui
My head is spinning—I’ve never seen so many people. In the yard outside the courthouse, a crowd is bustling in every direction. No one sees me: I’m too small for them. I’m only ten years old, maybe not even that. Who knows?

People say judges are the ones who help people in need. So I have to find one and tell him my story. I’m exhausted. It’s hot under my veil, I have a headache, and I’m so ashamed.

I spy a group of men in uniforms. If they see me, they might arrest me. A little girl running away from home. Trembling, I discreetly latch on to the first passing veil, hoping to get the attention of the woman it conceals. “I want to talk to the judge.”

Two big eyes framed in black stare at me in surprise.

“What judge are you looking for?”

“Take me to a judge—it doesn’t matter which one!”

She stares at me, astonished.

“Follow me,” the woman finally says. The door opens onto a room full of people, and at the far end, behind a desk, a thin-faced man with a mustache. It’s the judge at last. I sit down, rest my head against the back of the chair, and await my turn.

“And what can I do for you?” A man’s voice rouses me from my dozing. It is a curiously gentle voice. I rub my face and recognize, standing in front of me, the judge with the mustache. The room is almost empty.

“I want a divorce.”

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