I am Nujood, age 10 and divorced

Reviewed; 17/11/10,

Nujood Ali; William Heinemann, 190pp, $24.95; The Sydney Morning Herald; No Internet Text

If you want to understand the damage done by the infamous Norma Khouri Forbidden Love hoax, here is a perfect example. This book is almost certainly true but, given that it feeds into anti-Islamic stereotypes, how does anyone know it is not fraud?

The story is sad, courageous and horrific. In 2008, aged 10, Nujood Ali was married to a man 20 years her senior, according to ancient rural customs in her homeland of Yemen. But Nujood, who was raped and beaten by her husband, rebelled.

Her family refused to help but her father’s second wife told her to go to the courts and plead for a divorce. Fortunately her case was taken up by a committed local lawyer and, although both her father and husband lied in court, Nujood was granted a divorce.

The case attracted international media attention and was supported by women’s organisations eager to bring some semblance of modernity to Yemen’s harsh patriarchy.