11-year-old Yemini girl flees forced marriage

Last updated 15:34 23/07/2013

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Middle East

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An 11-year-old Yemeni girl is making international headlines after she fled her family to avoid being forced into an arranged marriage.

In an impassioned video Nada al-Ahdal says would die than be forced into marriage.

In the video, released on YouTube on July 21 by the US-based Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the young girl said she had filed a police complaint against her mother.

"I told them that I am 11-years-old and that she wants to marry me off," she said in Arabic.

Nada criticised a society that married girls off at young ages, saying her aunt was married at 14, and took her own life after a year.

"What about the innocence of childhood?" Nada said. "What have the children done wrong?

"They have killed our dreams. They have killed everything inside us."

Nada told the National Yemen she had been adopted at the age of 2 by her uncle, but had been taken back to her parents about a month ago at their request.

"They told me that I am engaged and that my fiance had already paid them money and brought the engagement ring," she said in the interview.

"I decided that I have two choices; to leave or to die. So I chose the first."

In MEMRI's video, Nada said that she ran away to her uncle to avoid the marriage.

"I'd rather live with my uncle than with these people," she said. "They threatened to kill me if I went to my uncle. What kind of people threaten their children like that?

"I'm better off dead. I'd rather die. Go ahead and marry me off. I'll kill myself, just like that."

In the video, dated July 8, she says why she did not want to have to leave her family home.

"I would have had no life, no education. Don't they have any compassion?

"There is nothing left. This is no upbringing. This is criminal, simply criminal." The video, which had not been independently verified, finishes with her stating: "I'm done with you, you ruined my dreams."

The video has received nearly 3.5 million views.

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- Fairfax Media

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