.Tell us about yourself and about your early childhood?1
.I was like any child, her dream is to complete her education and become a doctor or a teacher, but the day came when my life has changed, the day my family told me that I will be a bride at the age of 10 and I was a replacement for my sister who refused the marriage by burning herself and almost died
2.Then at the age of 10 you were chosen as a wife for a man instead of your sister. How did you escape from that marriage? Your aunt and your sister seemed to think that death was the only way to escape from their situations, what made you believe there was a better way to escape?
I wasn’t aware about the consequences of child marriage but through the victims I saw in my family, when I saw that my aunt’s way to escape early marriage by burning herself to escape her husband’s violence, that did not save her from marriage and she died. So because of that I didn’t take her steps,
The way my sister tried to escaped from being wife didn’t work despite Her threat to my family that she will burn herself, Unfortunately, no one believed her, so she burned her body. Even while she was recovering from her injuries, my family tried to replace me as her intended husband’s bride. This is when I decided to run away. I managed to escape child marriage and ran to the Ministry of Interior and recorded a video explaining to the world what I was going through
4. 3.The video you made was posted on YouTube and hit 8 million views. How did that publicity make you feel?
I did not expect this interaction from the world. My goal for the video was to reach my uncle so that he can see and come to save me, but I was very glad and happy that my voice arrived for everyone who does not know more information about child marriage.
I felt that what happened to my aunt and sister and almost happened with me , wasn’t a family problem as I thought, but it is a global problem and generations suffered from it before and still our generation suffers from it until now
5. 4.You were taken from your parents and then supported by your uncle. Why was your uncle willing to support you and what was your relationship with him like?
I chose my uncle from among my seven uncles, as he was known in my family for his support for girls ’education and he was also the only one who completed his education. I had hope that he would understand my case and would protect me and actually he did not disappoint me.
5.You were also imprisoned by the Ministry of Interior in Yemen. Why was that and what was that like?
At that time, I was coming back from Lebanon. I had an interview on Al-Jadeed channel tv upon my return to Yemen. My passport was taken and I was detained and forced at the Ministry of Interior to sign a document that I will not appear in the media, in order to hide my story from the media, and in order to cover up the child marriage crimes in Yemen
6.When you tried to travel, they took your passport and tried to get you to sign a document saying you wouldn’t talk to the media. How did you handle that? Did their threats and intimidation affect you at all?
It affected me miserably and I felt unsafe, and also that despite the victims of this crime in Yemen, there are those who work to cover this crime and threaten all activists or who trying to show the truth, but I managed to get out of this crisis and turned it into strength and I became a fighter against this crime with all power and faith
7.You were also abducted by AQAP for 14 days while trying to travel to Aden airport. Why do you think they got involved in your case? How did they treat you and how did you regain your freedom?
My story has been turned into a book and printed in French, German and Dutch.
When I was invited to sign my book in France, I tried to fly through Sanaa airport but the war forced the airport to close.so, l had to fly through Adan (the capital of Yemen at the time). When I arrived, I was kidnapped with my uncle by ISIS for 14 days. For the first 3 days I didn’t see the light because I was blindfolded.
It happened that after the assassination of the governor of Adan, ISIS was forced to change its location and subsequently, I was released and went out of Yemen
8.At the Nada Foundation you launched a program to raise awareness about Children’s Rights, the dangers of child marriage, recruitment of child soldiers, and the importance of education. Tell me a story about a girl that this has been impacted by this program?
Many girls have been affected by these programs, one of them is the girl Shaima who was violated by her parents we contacted the public prosecutor and her responsibility was moved from the father to the grandmother and right now she lives with her grandmother as she receives an educational grant in private schools annually and she fascinates us by having the first rank annually in all the results She is now in the third year of having an education, and she is a very brave girl
Also, through our dreams come true to teach girls the English language, we were surprised by the reactions of society and the villages that targeted education and its quality because we are working on the practice of language and not only education, and the girls have transferred their experience in the language to their families and society and practice it on a daily basis which made most of the people practice the language with them and are affected by the girls,
Community feedback made us happy with their influence in society and the positive impact of the program on them, and this pushes us to continue efforts and improve the programs more and more.
9.Is there a law in Yemen criminalizing the marriage of minors? You have said that raising awareness of the dangers inherent in child marriage is more important than legislation. Tell us why you believe that.
Currently, there isn’t. and we were close to introducing a law that criminalizes the marriage of minors through the comprehensive national dialogue conference that was to build a new constitution for Yemen, but Civil war halted this project and all the conference outcomes.
I think the two are important, but if there is a law without awareness that no one will apply it and people they will marry their doughters out of the law ,so it should be with each other so that the outcome is better by stopping this crime,
10.You have a safe haven project that aids girls forced into marriage as minors and those who have suffered domestic violence. The lives of women and girls in Yemen are so closely monitored by their families, and especially those who are in these types of abusive situations. Tell us, how are you able to reach these girls or how are they able to reach out to you to get help?
If the girl start with the first steps to contact us or reach to the foundation We communicate with her family through volunteers to access confirmed information and change family’s ideas try to return her with security guarantees and with the help of the police, but if we cannot reach a solution with her family, and we start to feel the risk of her return to her family, we accompany her to another family that is trained and learned how to deal with girls who are looking for a safe place to stay. With the help of the police we keep her protected and keep her location confidenshal so that she will not be harmed by her family, and we register her to the nearest private school, then we continue to follow up the family of the girl and send messages to them annually, without mentioning her location or mentioning our institution, and if we find her return is safe to her , the police will keep in touch with her family and to ensure that she is safe and we keep checking on her news and her education.
11.You also launched a project to educate 10,000 girls in the English language in IDP camps. Tell me about this. How is that going and why did you choose to focus on English
it was implemented in schools and in the villages in which we were able to provide volunteer teachers in which to implement the project
and we chose the English language because it is the first portal for the future of girls and their aspirations, and girls in the future can have jobs opportunities easier,
Secondly, girls can speak up about their suffering to the world, and we can build women leaders for the future, who will convey the suffering of girls to the world
12.What keeps you motivated to continue doing this important work in spite of all the odds and dangers?
I believe that as long as I have the opportunity to survive, the other girls need to be given the same opportunity, so I decided to make my life and all my efforts to defend girls who die because of this crime, and I won’t stay and watch the girls lose their lives as what happened to my aunt and sister