Nada al-Ahdal said she was only saved after her uncle intervened
- Yemeni girl produced YouTube clip threatening to kill herself if married
- Parents also deny wanting to do so – but Nada still stands by her story
- Crunch meeting results in deal for Nada to live with parents and uncle
Millions of YouTube viewers were shocked by the harrowing video of an 11-year-old Yemeni girl who said she ran away to escape an arranged marriage.
But questions are now being raised about the authenticity of the claims by Nada al-Ahdal, who said she was only saved from the forced engagement after her uncle intervened.
Yemen’s children’s rights group Seyaj now believes portions of the girl’s story were made up, and her parents have been keen to stress that they never wished to marry her off.
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The truth? Questions are now being raised about the authenticity of the claims by Nada al-Ahdal, 11, of Yemen, who claimed she was only saved from the forced engagement after her uncle intervened
But in a crunch meeting that saw Nada face her parents, the girl tearfully asked a mediator, Yemen Women’s Union president Ramzia Al-Eryani: ‘Why do you believe them and don’t believe me?’
In the dialogue captured on CNN cameras, Ms Al-Eryani said ‘We need to protect this child.’ She added: ‘I don’t care about what’s best for the mum or dad or uncle, just what’s best for the girl.’
Following the meeting, which saw Nada and her uncle maintain that her story was definitely true, an agreement was fixed that means Nada, her parents and uncle are going to move in together.
Ms Al-Eryani had been appointed Nada’s temporary legal guardian until the dispute was settled.
The drama follows the release of the video, dated July 8 and filmed by one of the girl’s friends, which saw Nada tell the camera: ‘Go ahead and marry me off – I’ll kill myself.
Horrifying: The drama follows the release of the video, dated July 8 and filmed by one of the girl’s friends, which saw Nada tell the camera: ‘Go ahead and marry me off – I’ll kill myself’
Claims: Nada poses on July 21 after she threatened to kill herself if her family tried to force-wed her
‘Don’t they have any compassion?’ I’m better off dead. I’d rather die.’ She continued: ‘It’s not [the kids’] fault. I’m not the only one. It can happen to any child.’
‘Why do you believe them and don’t believe me?’
‘Some children decided to throw themselves into the sea, they’re dead now. They have killed our dreams, they have killed everything inside us.
‘There’s nothing left. There is no upbringing. This is criminal, this is simply criminal.’
In the video filmed in a car, she explained why she does not want to leave her family home, saying: ‘I would have had no life, no education’.
‘I ran away from marriage,’ she told CNN in an interview after the video had been viewed millions of times. ‘I ran away from ignorance. I ran away from being bought and sold.’
The schoolgirl, one of eight children, was taken in by her uncle Abdel Salam al-Ahdal, when she was aged three.
In the middle: In a crunch meeting that saw Nada face her parents, the girl tearfully asked mediator, Yemen Women’s Union president Ramzia Al-Eryani (pictured) why she didn’t believe her story
But it is claimed that when a Yemeni expatriate living in Saudi Arabia asked her parents if he could marry her, they were said to have readily agreed.
The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen.
‘We need to protect this child’
Ramzia Al-Eryani, Yemen Women’s Union president
It has drawn the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.
Yemen’s gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars for their daughters.
More than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before the age of 15, according to a report in 2010 by the Social Affairs Ministry.
Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.