Clinton: Yemeni child bride her 'hero'

2011-01-11 21:20

Sana'a - US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described as "my hero" a young Yemeni girl who broke with tribal tradition to obtain a divorce two years ago, as she spoke at a town hall meeting in Sana'a.

"I want to acknowledge one of my heroes, Nujood Ali, who is with us today," said Clinton. Ali was married off as a 10-year-old to a considerably older man and forced to drop out of school.

Ali took the stand in court, aided by her human rights lawyer Shada Nasser, and was granted a historic divorce.

"She was one of the many, many young girls in Yemen who wanted to continue her education," Clinton said.

"Today Nujood is back in school where she belongs, learning English along with her other studies. And I really see her as an inspiration."

The girl's case had highlighted a phenomenon, quite common in the poverty-stricken and tribal country, where barely pubescent adolescent girls are forced into marriage, often to older men.

Her story was the subject of a book and a Yemeni filmmaker, Khadeja Sallami, is currently shooting a film on the same subject.

In November 2008, Glamour magazine named her and Nasser "Women of the Year," alongside Clinton and her predecessor Condoleezza Rice.

Clinton on Tuesday made the first trip to Yemen for a chief US diplomat in 20 years, with the declared aim of helping the country cope with a growing al-Qaeda threat through political, social, and economic reforms.

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