A powerful film tells her story in all its complexityby Sameer Rahim / March 15, 2016 / Leave a comment
In 2008, a 10-year-old girl Yemeni girl called Nojood Ali was married by her parents to a man three times her age. For two months, she was beaten and raped by her “husband” before she managed to escape. Remarkably, she took the man to court and obtained a divorce on the grounds of her age and maltreatment. A new film that fictionalises this true story, I am Nojoom, Age 10 and Divorced, was shown at the opening of the 18th London Asian Film Festival, earlier this month.
Not only is this an important story—there are 16 million child marriages each year round the world—it is also significant because of who is telling it. The director Khadija Al Salami is a Yemeni woman now based in France, who was herself the victim of a child marriage at the age of 11. As she told the audience during a Q&A after the screening, she had been desperate to get hold of the film rights to the book Nojood wrote after her ordeal. (Nojood has since changed her name to Nojoom—hence the film’s title. Her original name means “hidden,” while her new name means “stars.”)