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More Child Brides in Middle East Seek Divorce, But Judges May Be Reluctant

Posted Oct 30, 2008 4:52 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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A 10-year-old Yemeni girl, Nujood Ali, made international headlines earlier this year when she went to court on her own in a successful effort to seek a divorce.

But now that other girls are following her lead, it appears that at least some judges are reluctant to grant divorces to preteens, even though the required age to marry in Yemen is 15—and some are suggesting that it should be raised to 18, reports the London Times.

A 12-year-old girl identified by the newspaper as "Reem" is threatening to kill herself if she isn't granted a divorce, in a high-profile follow-up to the case of Nujood Ali, who has returned to school and hopes to become a lawyer. However, Judge Mohammed Alqadhi says he will postpone his ruling until she is 15, when she can make a mature decision about divorcing, because the facts of her case are different. Until then, Reem will live with her maternal grandfather.

“Some extremists have complained about Nujood's case,” says attorney Shada Nasser, who represented Nujood and has now added three other child brides, including Reem, to her client list. “They think the judges should not interfere with tribal life,” she tells the newspaper.

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